We have learned that banjo legend Bill Emerson is being treated for pneumonia in a DC-area hospital. Doctors there expect to release him in the next few days, but not in time to make tomorrow’s scheduled performance at the Denton FarmPark festival in North Carolina.
Bill, of course, had been a trendsetter in the banjo world since he first emerged as an original member of The Country Gentlemen in 1957. He stayed with that group only a short time, but returned in 1970 for a memorable stint after working for Jimmy Martin, Red Allen, and partnering with Cliff Waldron. Emerson also helped create Country Current, the first bluegrass group in the US Navy band program, from whence he retired in 1993.
Bill’s booking representative Pat Bogenn tells us that Bill is feeling well and ready to get home.
“Yes, he’s doing OK – just got a bug, we think. Alex [Alex Bogenn – Pat’s husband and agency partner] is talking to him a couple of times a day, and he sounds good. He went in night before last and should be released in a day or so.”
Here’s hope for a speedy recovery! Anyone wishing to send well-wishes can do so via Bill’s record company:
c/o Rural Rhythm Records
Box 660040, Dept. D
Arcadia, CA 91066-0040
UPDATE 5:30 p.m. -We just heard from Chris Stifel, guitarist with Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie. He says that Bill was at Bethesda Naval Hospital, and was released today (9/22). Chris spoke with him last night, and reports that…
“He seemed frustrated by normal hospital concerns (bad food, serial impalements (IVs), etc.) but was otherwise in good spirits. He and we (Sweet Dixie) regret having to miss a show in Denton, NC on Thursday, but Bill should be back on his feet in a few days.”