Remembering Ramona Jones, Old Time Fiddler, Wife Of Grandpa Jones (Louis Marshall Jones)


I would be totally remiss if I did not post about a very special lady who passed away this week.  Though this should have been on my blog days ago time and events did not allow that to happen.

On Tuesday, November 17th Ramona Jones, old time fiddler, vocalist, traditional country music entertainer, and wife of the late Grandpa Jones passed away at the age of 91.  To put it mildly she was a gem of a lady and while not a ‘center-stage’ personality was noted far and wide to be just about one of the dearest persons anyone would want to be around.

What makes her special to me is that she was part of the first generation of Grand Ole Opry performers beginning shortly after she met and married Jones (Louis Marshall Jones)in 1946.   She was 22 years old when she married Grandpa.  The two were performing together on a radio show–does it get more nostalgic for those of us who gravitate in that direction?   They continued working together professionally with Grandpa Jones often taking the top billing.

Ramona played fiddle, guitar, and mandolin on shows with her husband, and they often sang duets. Perhaps their biggest bit was their Bells routine where Grandpa and Ramona would strap cowbells to their feet and hands and use them to play familiar melodies. In this, and many other skits, Grandpa would joke and play the fool while Ramona maintained a dignified presence on stage.

She is remembered as a fine old time fiddler and proponent of the mountain and hillbilly music that characterized early commercial country radio.  Ramona and Grandpa are again together.


All The Rain Falling This Morning…..

…made me think of this song by Grandpa Jones.

John Brown, Killer Of Opry Start ‘Stringbean’, To Undergo Psychological Evaluation For Parole Purposes

The release of John Brown back into society must never take place.  I think that is were all my readers and I agree.

Brown murdered Opry star David “Stringbean” Akeman and his wife, Estelle, in 1973.  He is now seeking parole again, and had a hearing recently to make another attempt at freedom.

He will have to wait until October to learn whether the state parole board will release him from prison.  Prior to that time the seven-member board has decided Brown, now age 63, must undergo a psychological evaluation on his propensity for violence.

Before my readers get too upset with this testing I think we need to take seriously the words of the parole board spokeswoman who stressed that psychological exams “should not be viewed as either positive or negative for the offender.”  In other words there is a process that needs to be undertaken, and I am sure that there is no way, given the savage nature of the murders, that Brown will be deemed fit for freedom.

Brown and his cousin Doug Marvin Brown waited for the Akemans at their Ridgetop cabin on the evening of Nov. 10, 1973, as they returned home from the Grand Ole Opry.

John Brown shot Stringbean Akeman as he walked into the cabin. He then shot Akeman’s wife in the yard.  Brown’s cousin has already died in prison.

Here is a picture of the home where Stringbean lived, and the locations of the bodies, as found by fellow Opry member, Grandpa Jones.



Saturday Song: Tribute To Dave “Stringbean” Akeman “It’s Mighty Dark To Travel”, Grandpa Jones, Verlon Thompson

This week many have followed the proceedings from Tennessee regarding the attempt of John Brown for parole in the killing of Dave “Stringbean” Akeman  and his wife, Estelle.  There is little doubt that once the entire process is completed the prisoner will be sent back to his cell.  There can never be another day of freedom for BrownEver.

Today in memory of Dave “Stringbean” Akeman I want to post a few videos from Akeman and also a song written and sang bluegrass style by Verlon Thompson.  In addition are some words from everybody’s favorite grandpa, Grandpa Jones.





Saturday Song: Grandpa Jones “Good Old Mountain Dew”

The Kentucky Historical Society has approved a proposed highway marker to honor country music entertainer Louis “Grandpa” Jones at his birthplace.  The project, which is expected to cost about $2,500 will funded by donations.

Jones was born on Oct. 20, 1913 in the Niagara community of Henderson County in western Kentucky. He began performing in the 1920s, joined the Grand Old Opry in Nashville, Tenn., in 1946, and was a cast member of the TV show “Hee Haw.”  Jones was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978 and into the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in 2002.  He died in 1998.

Saturday Song: Happy 88th Birthday To The Grand Ole Opry

George Hay never sang a single song or plucked a single tune, but he exerted an immense influence on the development of country music as an entertainment form. Hay was the founder of the “Grand Ole Opry,” when in 1925 the informal showcase of country and western talent started coming together for the industry’s signature program. Listeners across America were introduced to country music by way of the powerful WSM Radio signal in Nashville.  The longest running radio show survives to this day on its parent station.  Hay, who called himself the “Solemn O Judge,” saw radio as an important medium for the popularization of rural music.  Although the Opry became increasingly glamorous and professional over the years, it has never lost the intimate “barn dance” quality Hay sought to preserve.

Today we celebrate the Opry’s birthday with some classic performances from the famed circle center-stage.

Grand Ole Opry Sues Federal Government, Trust Gaylord Entertainment Is Not Less Tax, Small Goverment Type

Its raining, raining, raining here this morning….  (Grandpa Jones video below)

I trust that Gaylord Entertainment believes in effective government, and therefore willing, as I am, to pay taxes to make sure programs are well-funded.   I hope that Gaylord is not one of those less-taxes, smaller government types that often can be found in corporate boardrooms.

I have my differences with business decisions that Gaylord has made over the years, and am doubtful that this one is any better.   I can tell you that I felt real genuine anguish when the flood waters covered the Opry stage, and ruined so many music artifacts from the days when country music was indeed country music.  But I am not at all certain that blame can be placed on the National Weather Service.  I think Gaylord is looking for more cash, and hopes the federal government will ante up.

The owner of the Grand Ole Opry, the temple of American country music, sued the federal government Monday, alleging that damage from the Nashville flood of 2010 was the result of negligence on the part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Weather Service.

The spring 2010 flood of the Cumberland River resulted in 11 deaths in Nashville, affected 2,773 businesses and left an estimated $2 billion in private property damage, according to city government figures. The flood caused more than $250 million in damage to the Opry and related buildings.

Monday’s lawsuit is notable not only because one of its main plaintiffs, Gaylord Entertainment Co., is the owner of the landmark Opry and the nearby Opryland Hotel, but also because the plaintiffs will try to hold the government accountable using a strategy similar to one employed by a group of New Orleans residents who won a lawsuit against the Corps of Engineers over the floods that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In the Nashville case, plaintiffs argue that the flooding was caused by a botched handling of the Old Hickory Dam upriver. The lawsuit alleges that the federal dam was authorized by Congress not as a flood-control project, but as a hydroelectric power and navigation project. As a result, it argues, the government should not be immune from a lawsuit.

The suit also alleges that the government failed to issue a proper warning of the danger.

Justice Served As Killer Of Grand Ole Opry Star David ‘Stringbean’ Akeman Denied Parole

Grandpa Jones discovered the murdered body of his best friend David ‘Stringbean’ Akeman in 1973.  In addition to that wrenching sight was the body of the Grand Ole Opry stars wife, Estelle.  Both had been shot by John Brown, along with his cousin Marvin Brown.    The two had waited in Stringbean’s home while listening to the Opry on WSM radio, awaiting the return of the legend after his final bow at the Ryman Auditorium.  They were aiming to steal his money.

Marvin Brown had died in prison, but John Brown was seeking a way to get free, and thought modeling himself as an upright citizen would garner support.  Some fell for the schtick, but not those that make the decisions.

Good call from those in power in Tennessee.

Today, the state parole board rejected convicted killer John A. Brown’s parole request for the 1973 slayings of Dave “Stringbean’’ Akeman and his wife, Estelle.

Chairman Charles Traughber and board member Chuck Taylor denied the parole. The request will be forwarded to the other five board members for review. Brown needs four affirmative votes to get released.