Ramblin’ Rhodes: Buller’s bluegrass hits heard ‘round the world

When you are a songwriter and come from a town in Minnesota with less than 5,000 people, it’s a pretty big deal when somebody nationally known records one of your songs.

 

For Becky Buller (pronounced bull-er) that national act was the Mark Newton Band cutting the song about illegal whiskey making Charlie Lawson’s Still that she co-authored with Tommy Austin. It also became the title of the band’s 2001 album.

Since then, Buller has had more than 70 of her songs recorded by groups from across the United States and around the world.

Those musical creations have included My Angeline and Rest My Weary Feet recorded by Russell Moore &IIIrd Tyme Out, Fishers of Men by Rhonda Vincent, Music To My Ears by Ricky Skaggs, Freedom by The Infamous Stringdusters and Be Living for Doyle Lawson &Quicksilver.

You can hear a lot of those numbers when Buller headlines the Morris Museum of Art’s Budweiser True Music Southern Soul &Song series at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, at Imperial Theatre.

Her special guest artists will be former series performers Kenny and Amanda Smith who opened in 2014 for Lawson and his band.

Tickets are $40, $28, $23 and $15. Call (706) 722-8341 or buy online at imperialtheatre.com.

Buller’s band is comprised of Ned Luberecki on banjo, Dan Boner on guitar and fiddle, Nate Lee on mandolin and fiddle and Daniel Hardin on bass.

Among Buller’s claim to fame is making bluegrass music history in 2016 by taking home the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Female Vocalist of the Year and Fiddle Player of the Year awards at the same show.

She comes by her talents naturally since the pride of St. James, Minn., and 1997 graduate of St. James High School performed with the band Prairie Grass fronted by her parents, Linda and Emory Buller.

Her life changed in connecting the relationship between performers and songwriters when her violin teacher gave her a copy of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ album Revival as a high school graduation present.

Putting education first, Buller majored in public relations at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City, Tenn., from which she graduated in May 2001. She then hit the road playing with Valerie Smith &Liberty Pike and also Darin &Brooke Aldridge until creating her own band about two years ago.

Her albums have included Rest My Weary Feet in 2000; Little Bird in 2004 and ’Tween Earth and Sky in 2014. She also recorded Here’s A Little Song as an album of duets during her time with Smith.

Since 2009, she has been married to Jeff Haley. They live near Nashville in Manchester, Tenn.

GOODBYE HARLEY, HELLO STEVE: Those of you who listen to morning talk radio know that “Handsome” Harley Drew retired after more than 50 years in radio on Friday, Sept. 29, including in recent years co-hosting on WGAC with Mary Liz Nolan.

Born on the Fort Gordon Army base, Drew became a part-time announcer at WBRO-AM in Waynesboro, Ga., at the age of 14. His time in radio included helping put WFNL-AM in Augusta on the air in 1962, working with the hit-making rock station WBBQ from 1964 to 1989 including as program director, being general manager of WZNY and being operations director for WGAC, WGOR and WRDW radio stations.

The local legend won Augusta Magazine’s Best Radio Personality award and the Louis Harris Award presented to a member of the media by the Augusta West Rotary Club.

Now in Drew’s seat opposite Nolan in the mornings is another local legend, Steve Smith, who has been heard and seen for more than 30 years on a variety of area radio and TV stations.

Smith started in radio as sports director for WBNO-FM in Bryan, Ohio. He was part of the WKXC-FM country radio morning team and served as weekend weather anchor on WRDW-TV.

Here’s a Ramblin’ salute to a great guy and long-time friend of this column. And here’s wishing him many more happy and productive broadcast days!

in concert

WHO: Becky Buller Band with special guests Kenny and Amanda Smith

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13

WHERE: Imperial Theatre

TICKETS: $40, $28, $23, $15; imperialtheatre.com, (706) 722-8341

more shows to note

  • Mandy Barnett performs The Nashville Songbook, 3 and 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, Newberry, S.C., Opera House, $40, $35, $25; newberryoperahouse.com; (803) 276-6264
  • Sawyer Brown, 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 20, Newberry, S.C., Opera House, $75, $65, $55
  • Chris Janson, rising country artist, 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 21, Bell Auditorium; $29, $25, $20
  • Charlie Daniels, headlines North Augusta’s 33rd Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee, Friday, Oct. 27, Georgia Avenue, with opening act Cody Webb, free, 6 to 10 p.m.; Robert Randolph & the Family Band and the Futurebirds perform on Saturday, Oct. 27, free, festival hours 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Terri Gibbs, first Country Music Association Horizon Award winner, 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, Imperial Theater; visit imperialtheatre.com; Lions Club benefit concert for Augusta University’s James and Jean Culver Vision Discovery Institute
 

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