Members of Lewis family will reunite to keep tradition alive

Janis Lewis Phillips, from left, Lewis Phillips and Travis Lewis

Three members of the Lewis Family bluegrass group of Lincolnton, Ga., will perform today for the first time as The Lewis Tradition.


They will make their debut at 8:45 p.m. for the Larkin Family's Christmas in the Smokies show at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center at the Ramada Inn in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.


Lewis Tradition performers are Lewis Family lead vocalist Janis Lewis Phillips; her banjo-and guitar-playing son, Lewis Phillips; and her bass-playing nephew, Travis Lewis.

They will be joined Tuesday by Nashville, Tenn., session musician Bruce Watkins, who is heard in Alan Jackson's recordings and was Dolly Parton's band leader.

The Lewis Tradition evolved from the retirement of the original Lewis Family this year after more than 50 years of performances.

"We're really looking forward to our debut show," said 37-year-old Lewis Phillips. "The response from fans and promoters to our new group has been amazing, Mama is going to sing some her most requested songs, including Purple Robe and Keep on the Sunny Side , and I'll do some songs off my solo CD, Empty Fields ."

The performance will mark Travis Lewis' return to the stage. He left the Lewis Family in May 2004.

MORE LEWISES: At 7 p.m. Saturday, television station WJBF will broadcast The Lewis Family's farewell concert. which was taped Nov. 7 in Lincolnton, Ga. The show also will air at 8 p.m. Dec. 20 and 4 p.m. Dec. 26.

AND MORE: Even before the group's retirement, another member, Little Roy Lewis, had joined Lizzy Long, of Nashville and formerly of Lincolnton, along with bluegrass musicians Doug Flowers and Ricky Rakestraw, to create the Little Roy and Lizzy Long Show.

According to the Web site, their next performance will be Jan. 2 at the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival in the Convention Center on the island near Brunswick, Ga.

ANOTHER ACHIEVEMENT: The trio Lady Antebellum, consisting of former Martinez residents Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott, of Nashville, has become the first country group to break the Top 10 of Billboard magazine's all-genre Hot 100 chart since the Dixie Chicks in 2007.

The popularity of the group's current single, Need You Now, reportedly also makes Lady Antebellum only the third country group this decade to appear in the Hot 100's Top 10 listings.

Need You Now also has become country music's top-selling digital single for three consecutive weeks, with almost 900,000 downloads. The song is on the group's self-titled 2007 debut CD, which has been selling more than 40,000 copies a week.

Don Rhodes has written about country music for 39 years. He can be reached at (706) 823-3214 or at