As we in the United States pause today to remember those who have served in the armed forces, especially those lost in the line of duty, it would be well to also recall our bluegrass heroes. Though not giving all in the same sense, the pioneers and practitioners of bluegrass music make sacrifices that not many of us would consider, to run the road bringing us the music we love so dearly.
So, all together now… hip hip hooray!
One such hero we can recall today is Larry McPeak, a founding member of The McPeake Brothers of southwest Virginia. He started the group with older brother Udell, and younger brother Dewey in 1963. Udell had been a member of The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers in the 1950s, and also worked a while with Red Smiley.
The band was quite popular in the ’60s and ’70s, recording for Rebel, County and Major, with one LP on RCA. Udell passed away in 2009, and Larry health has been poor for the past year.
Tim White, host of the PBS program Song Of The Mountains, sent along this photo and story about Larry getting a night out recently to hear some bluegrass.
“Larry McPeak, who is an original founding member of the VW Boys, attended a VW Boys concert on May 17, 2014 at Wytheville Community College in Wytheville, VA. Larry is living at a local nursing home while recovering from several heath issues. He is on oxygen 24 hours a day now and has dialysis treatments 3 days a week. He is also undergoing treatments for skin cancer.
To the great pleasure of current VW Boys members Dave Vaught, Tim White, and Fat Albert Blackburn, Mr. Larry was able to attend thanks to Debbie Larson and Larry’s brother, Dewey McPeak, escorting him to the show.
The VW Boys performed that night with the old time band the Wolfe Brothers. Larry had not been away from the nursing home since October of 2013 and he said this was a ‘real treat.’ Larry was able to stay for an hour and a half through the VW Boys concert and a little into the Wolfe Brothers performance before he became tired and had to go back to his room at the nursing home.
The capacity crowd at the venue were touched and inspired by Larry’s presence. They gave him a round of applause when brother Dewey brought him into the theatre in his wheelchair.
Please keep Larry in your thoughts and prayers. Everyone who knows Larry loves him.”
If you have an aged or ailing member of the bluegrass family in your community, pick up the phone today and give them a ring. And every time you enjoy your favorite music, in person or via recordings, stop and give thanks for the people who created, preserved and expanded it for us to enjoy.