Probably the most memorable session during the 2023 World of Bluegrass convention week was a tribute offered to celebrated bluegrass songwriter Randall Hylton who died at only 58 years of age in 2003. A Bluegrass Cardinals reunion was staged for this event, with David Parmley, Larry Stephenson, Randy Graham, and Ben Greene coming together to perform selections from among the 25 Hylton songs they had recorded, including classics like 32 Acres, Mountain Laurel, and Country Poor, Country Proud.
This Sunday the tribute is set to be re-enacted in Randall’s hometown of Floyd, VA through a combination of live performance and videos from World of Bluegrass.
Live on stage February 11 will be The Comptons and The Mike Mitchell Band, with Mike sharing MC duties with Randall’s sister, Wanda, familiar to a great many bluegrass fans from her many years working at County Sales in Floyd.
They will also share videotaped presentations from IBMA week in Raleigh with music by The Bluegrass Cardinals, Janis & Lewis Phillips, Dave Adkins & Mountain Soul, Darrin & Brooke Aldridge with Jerry Salley, Larry Stephenson, Special Consensus, Nick Chandler & Delivered, and Troy Engle & Rick Lang.
Mitchell, who with his wife was tasked with video recording the tribute at IBMA Bluegrass Live!, says that being able to bring that celebration back to Floyd has special meaning to them, as residents and business owners in the small southwestern Virginia mountain community.
“When Jenny and I were asked to help preserve these performances I was struck with the coolest feeling of ‘the unbroken circle,’ and was reminded of my small note in the Bluegrass Chord. You see, when I first learned to play this music, it was with my friends and neighbors right here, in Floyd County, where Randall was born and raised, and where his family still resides. His songs were among the first bluegrass songs I ever heard. The fact that Randall was a mentor to one of my songwriting mentors, Rick Lang, makes the circle complete.
To be able to offer these performances for bluegrass fans to enjoy, future songwriters to study, and our Floyd Music School students to learn is a privilege. We couldn’t have been given a more appropriate event with which to launch our new website and YouTube channel. The fine performances by these amazing artists and the always excellent work of Beehive Productions have made for some amazing footage. We’re excited to share it!”
The Randall Hylton Tribute is scheduled for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 11, at the Floyd United Methodist Church in Floyd, VA.
A suggested donation of $20 is requested to benefit the Floyd Historical Society and the church for providing the space for the show.
This will surely be a noteworthy and unforgettable event.