Karl Shiflett

Karl-leadKarl Shiflett
By Bob Allen

When Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show commandeered the stage at an American Legion Hall in rural southern Maryland earlier this year, they immediately brought a wave of sunshine into a chilly and sullen April afternoon.

With his doleful countenance and antic stage presence (he bobs and weaves with his bandmates as they share a single mic and sometimes launches into songs with a dramatic high leg kick), Shiflett comes across as a combination of a goodhearted class clown and your favorite uncle.

The first of the band’s two sets leaned heavily toward honky-tonk and Western Swing. It included rousing renditions of oldies by Hank Thompson, Porter Wagoner, and Western Swing King Bob Wills. In introducing his reprise of “My Bucket’s Got A Hole In It,” Shiflett quipped, “This was a big record for us. It took an old Hank Williams song to get us on the bluegrass charts.” He was just making the larger point that Big Country Show’s music harkens back to a time when there was little or no debate about what’s bluegrass and what’s not. A time when pace setters like Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs were simply considered “country stars.”

During the 1950s and 1960s in central Texas in Limestone County (the birthplace of Bob Wills, to be precise) where Shiflett was raised and still lives, all the local bluegrass musicians were influenced just as much by Bob Wills and Ernest Tubb as they were by Flatt & Scruggs, one of Shiflett’s most abiding influences. As Shiflett has noted elsewhere, “I’ve always referred to our music as country music and not necessarily bluegrass. It’s kind of like Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. That’s the way they referred to their music.” Read entire article »

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Compass 4709


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LIFE TO MY DAYS DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER (J. Salley, L. Black, D. McGlamery) LIFE IS A STORY, Mountain Home 17012

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