Help Steve Dilling see again

Steve Dilling has given his whole life to bluegrass music. He clearly loves the music, and people who cherish it love him back. Now we have a chance to repay his dedication during a time of need.

He first popped up on banjo with Summer Wages in the early 1980s, before joining North Carolina’s famed Bass Mountain Boys. When Sammy Shelor took a break from Lonesome River Band in 1992, Dilling scored that gig, before getting his big break in ’93. That’s when Russell Moore came calling and Steve was hired for IIIrd Tyme Out. There he stayed for 20 years, recording multiple albums with the award-winning band, and becoming the stage announcer for their live shows.

During this stint with Russell, health problems started to hinder his playing. He underwent successful surgery on his wrists to relieve symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome, which required some recovery time to return his playing to top form. But before long after that was dealt with, bouts with diverticulitis made maintaining the road life difficult for Steve, and he announced that he was leaving the group in 2013.

For a time he worked with Lorraine Jordan, helping her with booking and other aspects of her festival business, but once his gastro-intestinal problems were contained, the music called him back. Dilling started a new group with his son-in-law, Skip Cherryholmes, and long-time friend Jason Moore. Initially, the band wasn’t meant to play more than the odd, occasional gig, and they called it Sideline. But people loved their sound, and after a couple of albums, they converted into a full time touring act.

Unfortunately for Dilling, his medical battles were still ongoing. A diagnosis of diabetes was another life changer, but one he took in stride. In recent years, however, he has begun to suffer from Macular Ischemi, where blood flow to the retinas is reduced and small vessels start to close up. In this situation your vision becomes so blurred that simple life tasks become difficult, a point made clear last summer when Steve had to surrender his driver’s license.

People advanced in years know the loss of dignity when you have to give up your independence, as do those of us who care for aged parents. But Dilling isn’t even 55 years of age, so it has hit him hard.

At the 2018 Rudyfest, he addressed the audience to tell a bit of his story, and how important it is for people to get tested for diabetes to avoid what has happened to him.

But fortunately for Steve, there is some help available. Though he is currently unable to read or see a computer screen, there are corrective lenses available that can improve his vision. Called Bioptic SightScope Glasses, they were able to let him see clearly when he was given a chance to test them, but they are quite costly, and two pairs are required (one for reading and one for distance vision).

So Steve’s daughter, Stephanie, has launched a GoFundMe page to help them raise $5,000 for his glasses. Half that amount was raised the first day, and we feel sure that once more of his friends in the business learn of this difficulty, the rest will be pledged right away.

Even a small gift will be a big help, and GoFundMe is a safe, secure site where you can donate with a major credit card or PayPal. Full details are available online.

Let’s all help the big man see again!

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.