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Welcome to Jim & Valerie Gabehart’s excellent adventure! After marrying in 1981, they began a musical partnership which has lasted 27 years (and counting). After forming the group STEADFAST in 1982 and performing bluegrass music throughout West Virginia and surrounding states for the next fifteen years, Jim & Valerie spent the next ten years focusing on raising their children (Jimmy & Amy), playing primarily gospel music closer to home. When their youngest left home for college, they began work on putting together a new group and getting back out on the road.
After finding the right combination of musicians, working on new material, updating promotional materials, recording, and entry into the wonderful world of the internet with this website, Jim & Valerie are ready to hit the stage with enthusiasm and excitement! While firmly rooted in traditional bluegrass music, Jim & Valerie have composed original songs and arrangements and are not just a "cover" band. They have played hundreds of every imaginable type of venue and event (see the sample of past engagements listed on the PROMO page) and offer not only great music, but also experience and professionalism. Whether you’re looking for a group for an upcoming event or you’re a bluegrass music fan, listen to the music samples, explore this website and check back often for news, photos, and schedule updates.
That’s the tentative title for our new recording project. We’re excited to be going to Nashville next month to record some new music at Steve Thomas’ Gain Train Studios, where we recorded our last project (It’s My Turn). This will be our first recording with Buckwheat, and we’ll be doing a few of Buckwheat’s songs, including one that Jim contributed the melody/music for, and a couple Jim wrote. To hopefully generate some support for the project, we’ve launched a campaign on www.Kickstarter.com (just click to go check it out). The way kickstarter works is we have 30 days to reach our goal of $2000. (about one-fourth of what the recording will cost us) and no one’s pledge gets charged to their credit/debit card until we reach the goal. If you can pledge your support, there are some great “rewards” you will receive, including CDs, T-shirts, photos, backstage access, your name in our CD liner notes, and even a chance to get on stage with the band. We’ve got a lot of work in the next month and then a great lineup of shows for this summer, including trips to MD, TENN, NC, OH, and of course right here in wild, wonderful, West Virginia. Just about forgot to mention, we signed an agreement with Make Welcome Entertainment for management, booking, and publicity, and we’re looking for big things for our group in the next year.
I picked this title because it’s the start of another year of playing the music we love, kicking off first with what has become an annual trip to the Society for the Preservation of Blue Grass Music in America (SPBGMA) convention in Nashville. We also had a great visit to the IBMA Convention last fall. We performed at the historic Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Broadway in Nashville, the same stage that Patsy Cline, Ernest Tubb, and all the legends of Country Music performed on while appearing on the Midnight Jamboree broadcast on WSM after the Grand Old Opry every Saturday night.
Here We Go Again is also an appropriate title for this post because we’ve undergone another change in the group. Due to the demands of a new job and schedule conflicts, we had to say goodbye to Steve Acord, and we wish him all the best. After considering a number of interested instrumentalists, we’re happy to say “Here We Go Again” in welcoming back Brandon Shuping on mandolin and vocals. In his time away, Brandon has completed his education, and is proud member of the graduating class of 2012 of West Virginia State University.
We’ve been working on material for a new recording project, and hope to announce details in the near future. We have posted a number of shows on our schedule for this year. In addition to our home base in West Virginia, we have shows in Ohio, Tennessee, Maryland, and North Carolina, with more to be added. On a personal note, Jim won election the office of Prosecuting Attorney of Lincoln County, West Virginia, and our son is getting married this September. It’s shaping up to be a big year, both for our music and personal lives. Check our calendar and catch a show sometime soon.
We’ve had a great summer. We visited Mickey’s Mountain for the first time, appearing at their July festival (they have festivals in June, July, & August each year) and did well enough to be booked back for next year. By the way, aside from a great location, nice covered stage area, and warm hospitality, they serve the greatest concession food (roasted whole chickens, steak, etc.) I have ever had in 30+ years of festivals I’ve attended. Hats off to promoter Calvin Mickey and thanks for inviting us back (make plans to join us on July 11-12, 2013). We left Mickey’s Mountain and made a beeline (7 hrs) to Ramseur, NC for a concert by the lake and were surprised and happy to play for an audience that included our new extended family (our daughter’s in-laws).
Later in July, we enjoyed one of the great musical experiences we’ve had in our many years of performing when we hosted a 40th Anniversary Show celebrating 40 years since the opening of the Mountaineer Opry House in Milton, WV. A big crowd turned out and they were treated to an all-star Grand Ole Opry-style parade of performers that totaled over 25, birthday cake for 200, and even Opry House proprietor Larry Stephens took the stage to sing one. The show concluded with an on-stage jam including a 5-banjo salute (with 3 former WV state banjo champions), and the audience was entertained until about 11:15 p.m.
Labor Day Weekend marked a major milestone for us, as it was 30 years ago on Labor Day weekend, 1982, that Valerie and I called Willard Reynolds (mandolin) and Mike Smith (bass) and asked if they wanted to go enter a band contest that was being put on nearby. After entering the contest under the name “Newgrass Reflections” and winning first prize ($750), we decided to form a band. After a little more thought, we adopted the name “Steadfast”, suggested by Lola Gabehart (my mother), and began what has become a musical partnership of 30 years and counting. Over the past 30 years, we have visited so many places, made so many new friends, experienced so much, and have been blessed to have enjoyed the opportunity to have so many great musicians as a part of our group. Each one holds a special place in our hearts. Here’s looking forward to the next 30 years.
Upcoming shows include our annual trip to Tamarack (it’s a great reason to take a Sunday afternoon roadtrip and enjoy the great food catered by the Greenbrier), and another trip to North Carolina for food, fun, and fellowship at the Kudzu Festival. Closing out the month, we’re looking forward to getting to combine a visit to one of our favorite places, Nashville, staying and spending the week with our daughter in her new home, with the mixture of business and fun that is the IBMA World of Bluegrass. Everybody that is anybody in the world of bluegrass (hence the name) descends on Nashville to spend the week networking, performing, seeing and being seen, and we will be doing both. We are excited to have the opportunity to perform at the historic Ernest Tubb’s Record Shop on Broadway, home of the Midnight Jamboree broadcast every Saturday night on WSM after the Grand Old Opry. Plans are underway for a new recording and we hope to have an announcement with more details after we get back from Nashville. Stay tuned!
The title of a great album from Spectrum, It’s Too Hot For Words pretty well sums it up, as we’ve been out in the heat at the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston, Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom festival in Indiana, the Badlands Bluegrass Festival in Williamsburg, WV, Music In The Mountains at Summersville, WV (it was great to see Edgar & Eunice Kitchen doing well at 95 years old), and Rudy Fest in Grayson, KY in the past six weeks, with no end to the 95+ degree heat in sight.
Looking forward to upcoming trips to OH, NC, & TN, as well as hosting the special 40th anniversary show marking the opening of the Mountaineer Opry House in Milton, WV in July 1972. Can’t wait to see some of the old-timers (like us) that played there in the early years.
Amy graduated from WVU (we raced back from a couple shows in Raleigh, NC to make the ceremony) and we’re moving her and Chad to Nashville next week. No more motel bills in Nashville!! We’ve been working on new songs written by Jim, Buckwheat, and some other writers and hope to have a new recording by the end of the year. Check our schedule and come out to see us sometime soon.
A lot has happened since our last post. Our “new” bass player, Buckwheat Green has settled in and has already written a couple of new songs we’re featuring on our shows, both of which will probably be on our next recording. Speaking of recording, we’ve been talking to several record labels and, after releasing all of our prior recordings independently, we expect to make an announcement in the near future about our next recording. We’ve enjoyed another visit to IBMA and SPBGMA, and we’ve been working toward our goal of traveling more this year, with shows in WV, OH, VA, NC, and TN already on the books and visits to MD, GA, and KY likely to be confirmed any day now. Check our schedule and make plans to visit with us somewhere this year.
Beginning at IBMA, we’ve added several endorsements, including Blue Chip Picks, Peterson Strobe Tuners, and Schecter Guitars. Buckwheat is now the proud owner of a new bass guitar courtesy of Schecter Guitars, and we expect to have some photos of him playing it posted to the website in the near future.
Another big development since our last post is Jim joining the staff of Bluegrass Today as a staff correspondent, writing about news and events in the world of bluegrass, as well as reviewing new recordings, concerts, and other items of interest. Bluegrass is the pre-eminent online source for bluegrass news and Jim is thankful to have this opportunity. Buckwheat is also a frequent guest contributor for the site.
Jim was awarded a $1000 scholarship to attend Pete (Dr. Banjo) Wernick’s advanced banjo camp in Boulder Colorado in January. Accompanied by Valerie, they had a great time and made many new friends. An extra bonus, Jim wrote two new songs on the plane ride west, which they expect to debut on stage in the near future. Thankful for a mild winter, we’re looking forward to hitting the road and hope to see you soon.
A lot has happened in the past couple months (I know I need to start posting more often): We added a son-in-law to our family at a beautiful wedding, and had a great time at the reception playing music with our group, supplemented with Steve Thomas on fiddle, Rick Loyd on drums, and Ray Barr on electric guitar. As you might gather, we mixed in a little country with our bluegrass for those that wanted to dance. We’ve played great shows at the Pinch Reunion, the Johnny Staats bluegrass festival in Parkersburg, the Sorghum Festival in South Point, OH, and our annual central WV weekend tour from the Braxton County Jamboree, Jerry Run theater in Webster Co., and Tamarack at Beckley. Highlight weekends included our trip to Roanoke to play at Fiddlefest, followed the next day by a trip to the Buffalo Bluegrass Festival in Beverly, OH, and of course our first Gabefest, where we hosted Lost & Found, the Darrell Webb Band, Monroeville, and a lot of other great groups.
Sadly, our Gabefest was the farewell performance of our bass player, Joe Vance, Jr., with the group. As our schedule, and the traveling, has increased, Joe has concluded that between maintaining his full-time supervisory position with Bayer chemical plant and commitments to his church (where he is an assistant pastor) and family (he has a child still in school), he can not continue as a member of our group. We have enjoyed and appreciated Joe’s contributions to the group and are proud of his contributions to the growth of our music, including his involvement in our last recording, and wish him all the best in the future.
While we are sorry to see Joe depart, we are excited about the future with our newest member, John “Buckwheat” Green. Buckwheat is a great singer, songwriter and musician, whose impressive resume includes having been a member of the Lonesome River Band with Dan Tymnski, Tim Austin, and Dale Perry. Many of his songs have been recorded, including The Old Man In The Shanty, recorded by the Lonesome River Band and more recently by the Chapmans, and two others recorded by the Lonesome River Band — It Won’t Be Like Cheatin’ and If I Could Only Have Your Love. We would probably not be looking to record a new CD quite this soon, but with Buckwheat’s vocals and songwriting contributions, a new recording will probably be in the works sooner rather than later.
We had a big trip to Nashville for IBMA with a lot of exciting news to report but I’ll close for now and give out all the scoop in our next post. Come out and see us at the Bob Evans Farm Festival if you can. More LATER.
Sorry I’ve been so long in updating, but the spring and early summer has flown! We’ve had great shows at the Orange Blossom Trail Music Hall in Lost Creek, WV, the Vandalia Gathering and Festivall in Charleston, and the Lincoln County Bluegrass & Gospel Festival at the Mud River Dam in Lincoln County, as well as a July 4th weekend show with Lou Reid at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. Most recently we performed for a great audience at the Putnam County Fair, where a Channel 13 news crew filmed some footage of the band to use in a story that’s going to air on the 6 O’clock news on July 25. If you’re home (or have a dvr/Tivo) catch that. However, the biggest event in our lives at the moment is the impending wedding of our daughter Amy Elizabeth to Chad Taylor (yes, she’ll Amy ELIZABETH TAYLOR) on August 6. Between wedding plans, buying a mobile home for them to live in while they finish college (they’re both seniors), painting it, moving furniture in, learning some love songs for the reception (we’re playing, accompanied by our band and a couple friends on drums and electric guitar to add some variety and dance music), our lives are pretty hectic. Sandwiched in the middle of this (before the wedding) we have trips to Roanoke for Fiddlefest, where we’ll be performing with Paul Williams, Sierra Hull, and a lot of other great groups, and a festival in Ohio. Immediately after the wedding we have shows at the Pinch Reunion and Johnny Staats’ bluegrass festival in Parkersburg, before hosting our first-ever “Gabefest”.
On the subject of Gabefest, Valerie and I have assembled a lineup of outstanding professional groups (Lost & Found, Darrell Webb Band, Monroeville) and the best regional groups, and are taking a big financial risk in trying to promote this music. Please help us by attending and telling your friends. Advance tickets are only $25.00 for the whole weekend (less than most festivals charge for a single day) and camping is free. Tickets can be purchased online at our “Store” or can be purchased in the Charleston-Huntington area at Pied Piper Music, Fret ‘n Fiddle, Route 60 Music, and Musician’s Paradise. If you can’t come, buy a ticket and give to a musician friend as a gift. All of the regional groups are playing multiple days and will be staying overnight, so there should be lots of jamming after the stage show ends.
We had a great trip to Nashville for SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of BlueGrass Music in America)’s convention. We met a lot of folks at our Exhibition Booth and hosted a great jam session each night in our Suite (our daughter Amy, who flew in for the weekend from WVU, counted 23 folks at one time in our room) when the crowd thinned down and we got to talk with some of the folks who crowded in, it turned out that we were playing for promoters from Canada, New York, and North Carolina, in addition to several radio DJs. We are seeing the results of our effort and the airplay we’re getting for our new CD and we already have bookings in WV, KY, OH, VA, and NC with possible trips to FLA, MO, and ALA in discussions. Two big events for us are the 13th Annual Lincoln County Bluegrass & Gospel Festival, held at the Mud River Dam (hence the shortened “Dam Festival”) and the innaugural GABEFEST 2011.
The Dam Festival is sponsored by the Lincoln County Commission and is free to the public. This year’s lineup is complete and features Blue Highway, Grasstowne, Don Rigsby, Jim & Valerie Gabehart, Johnny Staats and others. Saturday is all bluegrass and Sunday features all gospel, including the Tribute Quartet from Nashville, as well as the best local and regional gospel groups (click on the image of the flyer for more info).
Remember when you used to be able to go and enjoy an entire weekend bluegrass festival for a twenty dollar bill (about 25 years ago)? Well you can again at the innaugural GABEFEST 2011. Our goal with this event is to include local talent playing multiple days camping and jamming, and make it affordable for everyone. It will be held September 9-11, 2011 at the Lincoln County Memorial Fairgrounds, near Hamlin, West Virginia on WV State Route 3. Camping (no hookups) is free and ADVANCE tickets (until July 1) are only $20.00. Tickets will be available online and at several retail outlets, as well as by mail. The lineup features Lost & Found, The Darrell Webb Band, Monroeville, The Travelers (Norman Wright & Kevin Church), and others including your hosts, Jim & Valerie Gabehart. Stay tuned for more details.
Thanks to our new CD “It’s My Turn”, exhibiting and showcasing at IBMA, requests for our CD from radio stations all over the world, and the ability to introduce ourselves through the internet (as Pappy O’Daniels said in Oh Brother, “We’re mass communicating”), we’re making contacts and new friends at an unbelievable pace. Our bookings are ahead of last year at this time, and we have upcoming trips to Nashville, Florida, Ohio, and others in the works. It’s unbelievable how Facebook has become a part of everyday life, and a necessity for a group like ours trying to get noticed. Six months ago I had no idea about it and now hundreds of people “Like” our music, a number which we are trying to increase (if you’re on Facebook, go to our group page (www.facebook.com/JimandValerieGabehart) and suggest us to your friends.
Hopefully, if you’re reading this post, you’ve entered the website through our splash page and taken advantage of the free song download. If you haven’t gotten a copy of our new CD, go to the Store and make your online purchase and we’ll get it right out to you. If you have a copy, recommend it to your friends. We also have T-shirts available featuring a great design, which we should have available online in the Store in the near future.
If you’re a Bluegrass Unlimited subscriber, hopefully you noticed our advertisement in the January issue, opposite the Festival Guide. We had to take out a second mortgage (just kidding, only slightly), but with more than 20,000 subscribers, our full-page color ad should get some attention. For you non-subscribers, check out this lay-out by Price Portraits (great work as always).
Look for an announcement soon with the final lineup for this year’s Lincoln County Bluegrass & Gospel Festival (June 4-5), but I can confirm this year’s event (which is FREE) will include Blue Highway & Grasstowne. More to come in the near future.
WOW! So much has happened in the past month, where to begin. Thanks to everyone who came out to our CD Release parties, we had a great time. After playing the CD release parties Friday and Saturday nights, and a church appointment with Steadfast Sunday night, in a mad dash to get on the road to Nashville for IBMA Monday morning, I neglected to latch the trailer and somewhere between home and fifteen miles down the road (when Valerie noticed the door wasn’t latched), we lost an early 70′s model Martin D-35 guitar that we’d owned since 1980 (when I bought it and gave it to Valerie while we were engaged). Short story happy ending-our homeowners insurance covered the loss and we found a better guitar (although not OUR guitar). Lessons learned-take care, but don’t get attached to material possessions.
We had a great time at IBMA-met tons of people, jammed, performed for industry folks in a showcase, gave away over 100 copies of It’s My Turn to promoters, radio broadcasters; spoke with J.D.Crowe, Carl Jackson, Jimmy Gaudreau, Adam Steffey, Alan Bibey, Tony Rice, and on and on — it was great. Also, I was hired as a correspondent at IBMA for the Bluegrass Blog and wrote a daily column detailing our experiences. All of this activity is fun, but it’s designed to get us a little attention in the bluegrass world so when we call places trying to get booked, they might be familiar at least with our name if not our music.
We’ve added some dates to our calendar, so check out the schedule and come see us sometime. If you haven’t gotten your copy of It’s My Turn, it’s available on Amazon, Napster, and of course here on in our Store.