Last night was a night of some great music. Taking to the road I headed to Effingham, IL. to listen to some great bluegrass musicians. There were several bands playing throughout the day. From 1 pm till 9 pm bands were around the courthouse lawn playing and there were some on the stage also. Chesnut Family Music store in Effingham http://chesnutfamilymusic.com/default.aspx put the jam session together and did a great job. My cousin Melody Freeman was playing in the “Strings Attached” band, so that was the reason for the trip. She did a fantastic job, as did the other musicians.
Great music is an understatement. People travel to Chicago for this quality music and it was right here in Central Illinois.
To give you an idea how good the music was, Melody (Staff) Freeman won the Illinois State Fiddle Competition one year. She also won the State Fair Fiddle Contest one year. She has played with numerous bands and gets calls to play when bands need a great fiddle player. She enjoys playing the organ for her church and leads their music worship service. She also has played with the house band at Nashville North in Taylorville, IL. Melody will also play with various people at The Grand Levee at the Old State Capitol in Vandalia. Dates will be Sept. 23rd from 4:30-6:00 pm and Sept. 24th from 4:30-8:00 pm. On December 10th Melody will be playing at Greenup, IL. with Tony Booth. http://tonybooth.homestead.com/ Tony won band of the year three years from the Academy of Country Music. He also was involved with the Buck Owens and Hee- Haw TV shows. Melody plays twelve instruments and teaches music to around 50 students each week. Her Dad owned “Staff’s Music Store” in Vandalia, IL for many years.
The banjo player, Gratton Toliver won the Illinois State Banjo Contest three years. He also won the Missouri contest two years. Gratton plays six instruments including playing ragtime piano. He also has given banjo lessons for over 20 years.
Marylynne Toliver the bass fiddle player is quite talented also. She also plays the rhythm guitar. You can tell she really enjoys what she does and brings much to the group. She and Gratton make a great team.
Marty Williamson plays the guitar for the group. Marty has developed into quite a musician himself. He also plays for a Chicago based band called “Hello Dave”. http://www.hellodave.com/blog/ Visit their website to hear some great music. Marty enjoys playing a variety of music and plays solo for many venues. When back in the Effingham area he also teaches 30-40 music students.
These musicians also play Civil War Era music at reenactments. That band is called the “Salt Creek String Band”. Gratton plays the claw hammer during these sessions. They dress in clothing from that era. They will be playing as this group in Princeton, IN. Sept 10th for the 4th annual Civil War Days. http://www.princeton-indiana.com/pages/civil-war.htm They will play for the dance or ball for the soldiers and their partners. All the music will be from prior to 1865. Playing at this Reenactment will be Melody Freeman, Phil Freeman, Gratton Toliver and Marylynne Toliver. They will play from 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm.