Gimme That Old-Time Music
More than a decade ago, Watauga County old-time musician Brian Yerman made his MerleFest debut with the Gospel Gems, a blues-based gospel group associated with the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church.
Last month, he returned to MerleFest to perform once again at the Traditional Music Tent. Only this time he performed as Brian Yerman and the Bloomin' Yermaniums, a band specializing in old-time Americana and country songs.
Both sides of the Brian Yerman album will be on display this week when he performs gospel music with the Boone Mennonite Brethren Church Gospel Choir and country and folk music as a solo artist (with occasional musical guests).
Both groups will perform in front of the Jones House Community Center in downtown Boone as part of the inaugural show in the 2011 Concert on the Lawn Series, sponsored by the Watauga Arts Council.
The show starts at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 3. The show is free, and attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs and picnic blankets to the front lawn of the Jones House.
Yerman grew up in upstate New York and relocated to the Appalachian Mountains in the mid-1970s. A passionate archivist of old-time music, he has sought out and hosted old time traditional mountain musicians both in the High Country and in Wytheville, Va.
Although Yerman is best known as a guitar player and singer, he started his journey as a musician when he learned how to play the trombone in sixth grade. During his service in the U.S. Navy, he continued to study music. While he was in the Navy, he went on two cruises of the Mediterranean and visited Spain.
"On our second trip, in 1969, I bought a guitar," Yerman said.
After a few classical guitar lessons, he began learning how to play songs by such artists as The Beatles, Donovan and English folk-rock pioneers The Incredible String Band.
When the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released its three-album set of classic country, bluegrass and folk songs called "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," it turned a lot of young musicians on to the genius of artists, such as Mother Maybelle Carter and Doc Watson. Yerman was one of those young musicians.
"That changed everything," he said.
In 1973, Yerman moved to Rural Retreat, near Whytheville, Va. There he met a community of old-time musicians that included Randy Sheets, Kyle Creed, Emily Spencer and Jerry Correll.
In 1978, he moved to Watauga County. Since that time, he has become a regular on the old-time music scene in the mountains and has performed with various bands, including the Lazybirds, the Corklickers and his own band, the Bloomin' Yermaniums.
This year's Concert on the Lawn series is sponsored by the Mast Store, the Downtown Boone Development Association, M-Prints, Footsloggers, Melanie's Food Fantasy and Stick Boy Bread Company.
For more information, call the Watauga Arts Council at (828) 264-1789.
2011 Concert on the Lawn Schedule
June 3-Brian Yerman & Boone Mennonite Brethren Choir (folk & gospel)
June 10-Mary Neil & the Lazybirds (singer-songwriter/country/blues)
June 17-Jeff Luckadoo & the Worthless Son-in-laws (country/rock)
June 24-Doc Watson Statue Dedication with Clint Howard, David Holt, Charles Welch, Wayne Henderson, Herb Key, Creekside Grass and more!
July 1-High Standards & Lucky Strikes (big band & cool jazz)
July 8-Swing Guitars & Katherine Whalen (Gypsy jazz & Americana)
July 15-Folk and Dagger & Michael Reno Harrell (folk and songwriter/storyteller)
July 22-Sheets Family & Elkville String Band (old-time string bands)
July 29-Traditional Music Showcase with Glenn Bolick, Lonnie Ward, Rick Ward and Charlie Glenn & the Crooked Road Ramblers
August 5-Ken Lurie & Buck Haggard Band (folk rock & country)
August 12-Upright & Breathin' & Amantha Mill (bluegrass)
August 19-Steve and Ruth Smith & Carolina Crossing (folk, Celtic and bluegrass)
August 26-Dashboard Hula Boys & Hot Duck Soup (folk and novelty jazz)
Sept. 2-Audan Parks & Soul Benefactor (songster and soul)
Sept. 9-Mountain Laurels & Forget-Me-Nots (world folk and Celtic fiddling)
Sept. 16-Matt Kinman & Lisa Baldwin and Dave Haney (old-time and bluegrass)