LeMars, Iowa.....Americas upper Midwest's longest running promoter of America's traditional and classic country, bluegrass, and folk music, is very outspoken when he talks about the future of old-time acoustic music in his part of the country.
A Smithsonian Institution recording artist, and worldwide traveler performing and promoting America's 'rural' music, Bob Everhart of Anita, Iowa, is quick to point out the discrimination by national media against Midwest lifestyle and music.
"We've become the part of America that is nothing more than a 'fly-over' zone. The media in NYC and LA don't even know we exist. They send out their programming, news, and entertainment to satisfy an audience in NYC or LA, and us.
How often to you see a performer on any of these so called 'national' programs from Iowa? Do they think there is no talent here, or do they think we do not exist. I'd call that discrimination, no matter how you look at it."
Everhart has been president of the National Traditional Country Music Association for all of the last 37 years. He is also the producer and director of the oldest festival in Mid-America devoted to acoustic traditional country, bluegrass, and folk music. "We've been in this stagnant economy for nearly nine years now.
Because of the uncompetitive price of gas in America it has cut down long-distance travel considerably. If there is anyone in this country who sees gas prices change at every pump in town at exactly the same time, and not realize this as collusion, means there's something wrong with Webster's dictionary.
Here in Iowa, we are doing all we can to make it possible for those who appreciate the very 'real' talent of traditional, classic, and 'real' country, bluegrass, and folk music, are launching 'Daze of Save.' We're going even further back with our musical offerings, which you will never see on national television, simply because we are the ones those very same people 'fly-over'.
For us it's the roots, the whole roots, and nothing but the roots. We're dedicated to not only the preservation of America's beautiful music of the past, we're determined to make it a level playing field, very unlike the 'we're for sale' sign on every television show and theater production that takes place in America's urban areas."
Everhart goes on to say, "In this fast moving world of computerized video games, machines that make music, and vehicles that travel the universe, it seems little is left to individual accomplishment. What has this to do with the past, much less interest anyone in a musical art form that is out of vogue? Put more simply, how you gonna keep them down on the farm after they've seen TV, and especially for those that carry their TV with them. Well, in LeMars, Iowa, that's exactly what we're up to. We're not only keeping down on the farm, we're singing about it. 'Iowa" is a Pottawattamie Indian word for "peaceful valley between two big rivers, this is the place." And, that's where "Daze of Save" comes in.
We're going to entice our local residents to save their gas money traveling to events, festivals, and programs in the urban cities, and bring it back home to the real 'country.' Our annual old-time acoustic music event is now in it's 37th year. It's devoted entirely to bringing alive not only the music of Iowa's settling pioneers, but the pioneer's survival crafts as well. The way things are going in the political arena in America, it looks like we're all going to need pioneer survival crafts. Not only just Iowans. We invite anyone with a "Daze of Save" attitude to be with us."
The whole week of Aug. 26 through Sept. 2, is devoted to everything Everhart is talking about. With ten sound stages and over 650 performers, there will no doubt be some interest in how this all pans out in the national and international media arena. According to Everhart, "This whole event, especially the music, has become a valid alternative to 24-hour, 192-channel television."
Yet, the television media has not ignored this event. All three national networks have been there in one form or another, and Iowa Public Television has been there several times, even spawning their own "Old Time Country Music" television show, a seven-year project with Everhart as host, that aired regularly in 22 states. According to Everhart, "The biggest thrill for us was when the BBC came to do a show called "The World About Us," After all the televising, they asked me to go to London to narrate the entire program. It was quite a thrill, and it was a super good program. Very unlike the "fly-over" discrimination we experience today."
What's to happen with America's traditional musical art forms and genres? Everhart keeps trying. "We created the Pioneer Music Museum in 1976, which is located in Anita, Iowa, as well as America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame. You'd be surprised at the incredible number of celebrities in this musical genre who have placed some of their most cherished musical instruments and attire in this museum, because according to them...."We'll never be recognized for our contributions to country music in Nashville." Well, doesn't that explain my statement about the 'we're for sale' signs on every media door these days? Just last year Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown and the legendary Patti Page attended to support what we are doing."
The event that Everhart directs, continues his "Daze of Save" logic in the largest gathering of its kind in the Midwest. "We'll keep struggling as long as there is good performers and good people who 'care' about America, and America's past, including her long legacy of early old-time musical art forms. We'll never get any recognition from NYC or LA, we know this."
The association that Everhart is president of has a website at www.ntcma.net where more information about the activities of this very vibrant musical adventure can be found.