About Everett Lilly
Singer and mandolinist Everett Lilly is one of the great pioneers in bluegrass music and one of its most influential musicians. Everett and his brother, Bea (Michel Burt Lilly) began their career as a brother duet in the late 1930’s by singing in churches and playing shows near their home in Clear Creek, West Virginia. Soon The Lilly Brothers became regulars on radio, eventually playing on such shows as the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree in Wheeling, West Virginia, further increasing their popularity.
In 1950, Everett joined Flatt & Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys playing mandolin and singing tenor. He stayed with them until 1952, and recorded many classic songs with them, including "Get in Line Brother."
Everett rejoined Bea in 1952 and they relocated to Boston. There, along with banjoist Don Stover— and, for a while, fiddler Tex Logan— they began an amazing sixteen-year gig as the house band at the Hillbilly Ranch and performed daily radio shows on WCOP. They also recorded a number of excellent and highly influential LPs, introducing a whole new regional audience and a new generation to bluegrass music.
In 1970, Everett chose to return to West Virginia, but the Lilly Brothers continued to perform at bluegrass festivals and tour overseas. In 2002, The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover were
inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of Honor, the highest tribute that the bluegrass community can give.
Everett Lilly has passed on his love of music to his sons, some of whom perform with him in his current band, The Lilly Mountaineers. (http://www.thelillymountaineers.com)
—Swift River Music
About This Project
(by Bill Wolfenbarger,
Co-Producer & Honorary Lilly)
Everett’s son, Charles— my best friend and co-writer (some may say co-conspirator!)— and I were talking about Everett and his music one day in May of 2005. We came up with the idea of getting Everett and “the boys” back in the studio to just record a good-time potpourri of songs. We felt that it had been some time since Everett had recorded, and we wanted him to be able to do another big project for both his enjoyment and for the many folks who have loved his music over the years. Everett agreed to do it with the condition that Charles and I produce the project. We gladly accepted the task at hand.
With such a long career filled with so many classic songs, choosing which ones to include on this CD was an enjoyable challenge. Some we chose, such as "Get in Line Brother," and "Waves on the Sea," were songs that Everett had helped to make famous; some were included because they were songs that Everett and the family performed and enjoyed over the years. Some are contemporary songs that are particularly meaningful. Everett especially wanted to include "Will You Find Me Worthy?" and, later, "He Knew Me When He Was Hanging on the Cross", both sacred songs written by Charles and myself, and "Savannah’s Not in Georgia," an original written by Daniel Lilly.
From the beginning, Charles and I wanted to be sure that anyone who was involved in this project—singing, picking, or in any other manner— was doing so in the spirit of “it’s all about Mr. Everett and the music.” As word spread in the small world of Nashville’s music “bidniss” that Everett was going back into the studio, we had musicians, who in some fashion or another had been influenced by Everett or The Lilly Brothers along the way, telling us, “If you’ve got room for me, I would love to be a part of this project.” The next thing we knew, we had “everybody and their brother” lined up for the project, each one doing their specialty— or just whatever was asked of them— out of respect for and in honor of Everett.
We started the project on June 6th, 2005 and recorded the basic tracks with the help of many of the performers you hear on the CD. We continued to work on the project on and off for nearly a year as schedules would allow. Many of the performers were out on the road much of the time and gave their time off to be a part of this event.
During this time, Charles was playing bass for Grand Ole Opry legend Billy Walker, who also contributed to this project. On May 21st, 2006, while returning from a show in Alabama, the band was in a tragic automobile accident. God called Charles Everett Lilly, Jr., along with Billy Walker, his wife Bettie, and guitarist Danny Patton, home to Him on that day.
Everett and I, along with other Lilly family members, decided that we needed to complete this project because that is what Charles would have wanted. We also decided to dedicate the project to Charles and to Bea, Everett’s brother with whom he had performed for so many years and who had gone home to be with the Lord September 18th, 2005.
So, it was back into the studio to both finish the project and provide some therapy for all of us who were so close to the tragedy. The end result is what we hope you will find to be a very enjoyable musical journey back to the roots of the music and forward again to include some newer songs inspired by the traditional music Everett helped make famous.
We hope you enjoy this project as much as we enjoyed doing it. We believe this will introduce a whole new audience to the legend of Everett Lilly. I think Marty Stuart summed up it best when he said:
“I think when we all get to Heaven we’re gonna find out that Everett Lilly is God’s favorite mandolin player-- and mine too!”
We want to thank all the singers and musicians who so respectfully participated in this project. We also want to thank the fine folks at Bayou Recording Studio in Nashville for all their painstaking efforts to make this project what it is. It was “big doins’ at the Bayou, and engineers George Clinton, Craig Johnston, Ben Buttrey, and Mike Bush all “put on their Sunday best” to make sure we had the best.
When it came to a record label, we wanted to keep the same spirit of “it’s all about Everett and the music” as a deciding factor and that is why you are listening to this project on Swift River Music. Our heartfelt thanks go out to Andy and Lauren May and the team at Swift River for doing such a fine job.
Most importantly, we want to thank God for the gift of music and the sacrifice His Son made on the cross for all of us. One day, we will have the “Biggest Family Reunion” of all time!!
May the Blessings of God be on everyone who hears this music. --Bill Wolfenbarger