Bluegrass: The Best Medicine

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Bluegrass: The Best Medicine

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Hydrocephalus…it has its drawbacks. You never know when the shunt doctors place inside you, to drain the fluid off your brain is going to fail. When it does, especially during a growth spurt, you have back to back surgery. Well, that’s at least what happened to me. One of my most recent I can remember well; Boston Children’s Hospital in 2013. It was the recovery that stuck with me, though.

I had recorded one of my favorite shows the night before not knowing how instrumental it would be in my recovery; Larry’s Country Diner is a show where the host, Larry Black, showcases well known and non-mainstream country and bluegrass talent. The show airs on RFD-TV, a cable and satellite channel. 

This episode featured The Church Sisters, a country and bluegrass band hoping for their big break. Their harmony, I am convinced, is what healed my soul, and my body slowly followed. I replayed two songs over and over again, their versions of well-known country and bluegrass songs: “Homecoming” and “Angels Rejoice.” These two songs took my pain away completely. After my recovery, I wanted to meet The Church Sisters. That dream has come true for me two times in the past three years. 

June 2014: I had attended the Jenny Brook Family Bluegrass Festival, which is located in Tunbridge, Vermont, for three years. During this time, I became great friends with Candi Sawyer, the event producer. I suggested The Church Sisters as a possible act a few times. However, she said she was not able to book them. I can still remember my shock and surprise when I read a Facebook post telling attendees that The Church Sisters would be making their Jenny Brook debut, “Some of you may have heard that James King has been ill the past few weeks. He is doing better but not quite ready to be here with us this year. The Church Sisters from Virginia will be joining us for their very first Jenny Brook appearance and I’m looking forward to hearing their show.” I was lucky enough to get tickets because I volunteer every year. 

Fast forward to the festival: I had my chair in the front row. I was so excited to actually get to see The Church Sisters live. During the act, I was saying to myself, “I hope they sing, “Homecoming,” or I hope they sing “Angels Rejoice.” I’ll tell you, it was like they were reading my mind. That made it all more special. After the first set, I went back to their table to get a picture. On our way back to our seats, Candi Sawyer happened to be walking by, I took this opportunity to show her the picture. I can still remember her saying “awwww.” 

This spring: I took a trip to down to Galax, Virginia. I wanted to see The Church Sisters perform on their home turf. I selected HoustonFest. This festival is special to the city of Galax, Virginia; it honors the memory of a prominent teenager, Houston Caldwell, who passed away in 2010 in a motorcycle crash. This year the festival showcased the album, Orthophonic Joy: The 1927 Bristol Sessions Revisited. The Church Sisters’ rendition of Never Grow Old is included on the album. I went back to the “meet and greet” tent on the second day of the festival, and the Church Sisters recognized me, one thing I wasn’t expecting. I was speechless and star struck. I look forward to seeing them again. 

They say music heals the soul, for me, The Church Sisters did much more than that.


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