KSBTM to recreate final Stanley Brothers performance

ksbtmThe Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music at Hazard Community and Technical College, has devised a terrific program to mark the 50th Anniversary of Carter Stanley’s final performance on October 21, and offer their students a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience.

It was on October 21, 1966 that Carter left the stage for the last time, during a Stanley Brothers appearance in Hazel Green, KY, just 55 miles north of Hazard where the college is located. The brothers were only a few songs into their set when Carter began coughing up blood uncontrollably, and had to be taken to the hospital. Six weeks later he passed away at the hospital in Bristol, TN not far from his home in Virginia.

Only 41 years of age when he died, Carter had resisted his brother Ralph’s attempts to reign in his alcohol consumption, even after doctors had told him flatly that it would kill him in short order. It seems that he used drink to battle depression, brought on in large part by watching other early bluegrass acts like Flatt & Scruggs enjoying far greater success than he and Ralph had found.

Students at KSBTM will recreate the Stanleys’ truncated last show on the 21st, ahead of Gary Reid’s presentation of his one man Carter Stanley stage show, A Life Of Sorrow, the Life and Times of Carter Stanley. It will be hosted at the Red River Valley Elementary School in Hazel Green, the same location as that fateful performance in 1966.

KSBTM faculty member Scott Napier has organized the student set, which will feature pupils from his Stanley style class. They have been rehearsing using an audio recording from a Stanley Brothers show held in Bean Blossom, IN on October 16, 1966, seeking to replicate the sound as closely as they can. Scott will play the role of Melvin Goins on bass, including his comedic character, Big Wilbur, a regular on the Stanleys’ shows, and will be wearing Melvin’s original costume on stage.

The two students chosen to play the Stanleys are Tanner Horton as Carter, and Jordan Jenkins as Ralph. KSBTM Director Dean Osborne will tackle the role of George Shuffler on lead guitar.

This should be an event to remember for Stanley fans in east Tennessee, and those willing to make the drive from neighboring Ohio, West Virginia or Virginia.

The October 21 show is a fundraiser for the Red River Valley school. More details can be found online.

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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.