Special Friday Night Show at Carter Fold!

Friday, May 4th, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a special Friday night concert by the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, an old time band from Tennessee. Admission to the concert is $15 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free.

From the pastoral hills, hollers, shopping malls, and interstate highways of Goodlettsville, Tennessee – home of Bill Monroe, Bashful Brother Oswald, Stringbean, Grandpa Jones, Keith Whitely and some living country music performers – comes the most entertaining blast from the past since Lester Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys. They’re the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band – five guys and a scrubboard with roots like wisdom teeth.

The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band has shamelessly stolen a feature of the old Roy Acuff Show — a bit known as “Pap & the Jug Band”. This frolicking fivesome brightens up the stage with rib-tickling old time tunes. Even better, they have an utter lack of self-consciousness (and some might say any sense of decorum). The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band not only knows the music, they wear the costumes, tell corny jokes, and even do slapstick gags that throw a cable-tv-numbed audience into hysterics. Grown women have lost control of internal organs when the Jug Band entertains … tears a’ runnin’ down both legs!! Members of the Jug Band are: Mike Armistead, Ernie Sykes, Dan Kelly, Mike Webb, and Leroy Troy.

Although small in stature, Mike Armistead’s got more show business brains in his whole body than most folks have in their little finger.  Mike helps run a goat farm, plays a Martin guitar or two, just not at the same time, and sings lead and HIGH tenor (and getting higher all the time). Mike is striving to fill the size 22 shoes of his late dad, Lonesome Lester Armistead, who helped create the Jug Band and its signature look and sound. Mike is also a firefighter for the city of Nashville working in the HAZMAT business. He’s been known to blow out the flames just by singing the chorus of “The Precious Jewel,” as long as his fellow firefighters have time to put on hearing protection. Li’l Mikey can sure huff and puff. Steeped in the tradition of his late dad and Bashful Brother Oswald, his music is as close to the original Grand Ole’ Opry style as it gets. 

Ernie “Sir Cecil” Sykes is from Long Island, New York, but has kicked around Nashville for decades with his big bass fiddle and bag of good ol’ country songs.  He’s known for both “weepers” and jolly numbers from Roger Miller. His singing has brought audiences to tears – and that’s on the Roger Miller numbers.   Ern likes to tell folks that he has been a true bluegrass pro; he was with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, Don Reno, and the Bluegrass Cardinals. If you hear vague muttering from the back of the stage during the show, you can be sure it’s Ernie making wiseacre asides (behinds?). Ern also shares the distinction (?) with Li’l Roy Lewis of being the only hand trumpet players in bluegrass or hillbilly music.

What can you say about handsome Dan Kelly, fiddling hunk from Pennsylvania, that doesn’t just increase his appeal to the ladies?  Well, he’s a great fiddle teacher.  He LOVES to jam with pickers at Jug Band personal appearances at bluegrass festivals. He’s won all kinds of fiddle contests in the US and Canada. He was a member of Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys, taking the place of his mentor and hero, Howdy Forrester. He’s played with all kinds of top 40 country acts, which if listed here would only increase his appeal to the ladies. Dan does not sing for fear that the ladies would rush the stage.

Mike Webb plays the Dobro steel guitar (a guitar fretted in the Hawaiian manner, according to liner notes on an old Flatt & Scruggs LP) and the old clawhammer banjo.   He’s apparently made of ham, and is always cutting up with some kind of moss-covered country music comedy routine.   He learned his comedy and Dobro craft at the knees of his hero and mentor, Bashful Brother Oswald of Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys. Mike played Dobro for Wilma Lee Cooper on the Grand Ol’ Opry. Although Os was ALWAYS smiling, surely he’s smiling down on his protégé every time he takes the stage with the Jug Band.   Mike likes to lord it over the rest of the band members for being the most popular, as he actually won election to office in his home county in Tennessee. And as we all know, politics is just a popularity contest and therefore he might just be THE most popular man in country music.

Leroy Troy – the Sultan of Goodlettsville, the Most Popular Man in Country Music (along with Mike Webb), the ol’ Tennessee Slicker hisownself – plays banjo, ukulele and a contrivance he calls “the washing machine.” Since the Knoxville World’s Fair in 1982 (who could forget that?) Leroy has been a professional hillbilly musician. In fact, it was at the 1982 World’s Fair that he first met Janette Carter and later began performing at the Carter Family Fold. As it happens, Leroy also lived next door to Anita Carter in Goodlettsville. He learned his trade working with the Bailes Brothers (long ago members of the Grand Ol’ Opry). He knows about every banjo “monkeyshine” that Uncle Dave Macon ever performed. He’s a good flat-foot dancer. He can really win over a crowd! Troy has logged the most TV time in the band; from Hee Haw, to Outsiders Inn (who could forget that?), to the Marty Stuart Show on RFD where he was a guest nearly every week. Also, Troy now has a bona fide hillbilly commune in the hills and hollers of Goodlettsville.

The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band has a CD “Barnyard Frolic,” had a video on CMT and GAC cable TV, and their latest CD is “Poor Leroy’s Almanack.” They can be heard on the sound track of Faye Dunaway’s movie “Yellowbird.” The Jug Band provided the entertainment for the society wedding of Billy Bob Thornton and Angelina Jolie several years ago — you see how well that turned out. They played a New Year’s Eve show at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville and nearly brought the house down. They perform concerts all over the south, for bluegrass festivals as far away as Indiana, New England, and Canada. Tours of Europe and the far-east are in the works. The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (our nation’s capitol) has hosted the Jug Band. They’ve been on the Grand Ole Opry stage over a dozen times, and are hoping to be invited back.

Hot picking, powerful harmony singing, and riotous hijinks – that’s the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. Marty Stuart first introduced the band to the Fold, and it was a match made in Heaven. Get ready to laugh until your sides hurt. Be sure to bring your dancing shoes, too – you’ll need them! For more information on the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band, go to www.facebook.com/TennesseeMafiaJugBand or check them out on YouTube. On hand for this special show will be Maybelle Carter’s granddaughter (& Anita Carter’s daughter) Lorrie Carter Bennett. Long-time family friend and Carter family style performer and enthusiast Ronnie Williams will be part of the show along with Lorrie.

Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to http://www.carterfamilyfold.org. Partial funding for programs at the center is provided by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Art, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation. For recorded information on shows coming up at the Fold, call 276-386-6054. The Fold can be found on Facebook – page Carter Fold – and Twitter – @carterfoldinfo. To speak to a Fold volunteer staff member, call 276-594-0676. If we don’t answer you right away, we’ll get back to you in 24 hours.