Ramblin' Rhodes: 'Doug Flowers and Friends' features the South's best

There are few people who have done as much for bluegrass music locally as Doug Flowers.

 

Many people know Flowers from his 21 years with the Richmond County Board of Education; teaching at Hephzibah High School for nine years, being administrator at Greenbrier High for three years and teaching at Hephzibah Middle School for nine years.

Many others know him for his love of music and expert mandolin playing.

At 12 years old, Flowers was playing in the local band of mandolin player Ed Hurt and was greatly influenced by him.

When he was only 14, Flowers was traveling throughout the south performing at major bluegrass music festivals as part of Betty Fisher’s Dixie Bluegrass Boys band.

Fisher was the first person to record one of Flowers’ songs, Home Sweet Home, for her 1978 album Smiling Faces & Different Places with Flowers playing mandolin on the album.

“I performed all of my high school years with Betty,” Flowers remarked. “She took me to parts of the country I never knew existed. Betty opened and paved the way for the female artists in bluegrass. I know she touched a lot of people through the years with her sweet personality and wonderful talent!”

He made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry House stage performing with Fisher’s band as part of Bill Monroe’s Early Bird Bluegrass Music shows held in Nashville, Tenn.

Flowers earned his business management degree from Georgia Southern in 1984 and along the way came to know fellow student Tony Arata, who would later write Garth Brooks’ classic song The Dance.

Their friendship continued to grow over the years with Flowers performing with Arata at the renowned Bluebird Café nightclub in Nashville and being a guest artist at the Hephzibah Opry developed and promoted by Flowers.

Flowers has organized hundreds, if not thousands, of bluegrass music shows in the Augusta area. He was booking Alison Krauss and her Union Station band at the Riverwalk Amphitheater long before she won a Grammy Award.

For many years, Flowers toured the South as part of the band Avalanche. He was an original member of The Little Roy and Lizzy Show, and in 2012 joined up with country and bluegrass artist Clinton Gregory to form Clinton’s bluegrass band.

He put his old band Avalanche back together in 2015 with original members Eddie Hoyle and Jim Iler.

So it gives me great pleasure to tell you about Flowers’ new album Doug Flowers and Friends.

It features some of the best bluegrass musicians in the South including Scott Vestal, Clinton Gregory, Ben Speer, John Pennell, Lisa Shaffer, Jimmy Stewart, Gerald Smith, Lisa Hoyle, Jim Iler, Rickey Rakestraw, Frances Mooney, Rebekah Long, Al McCall, Jason Roller, Torey Flowers, Tabor Lee Flowers and Brandon Henson.

Vestal is known for playing in such internationally-famous bands as Quicksilver, Livewire, Continental Divide, The John Cowan Band and The Sam Bush Band.

“I’ve been knowing Doug for the better part of 30 years as a musician, singer, songwriter, band leader, promoter and friend,” Vestal noted. “I’m glad to see him doing his own project and happy to have been asked to be a part of it.

“Doug really knocked it out of the park with great performances by himself and all involved with material old and new, great picking and beautiful singing with angelic harmonies.

“If you like bluegrass and traditional country music, you are going to love this recording,” Vestal added.

Flowers picked out some great songs for this album including Rawhide and I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling composed by Bill Monroe, I Wonder Where You Are Tonight by Johnny Bond, Midnight Train by Carter Stanley, Making Plans by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison and Fallen Leaves by Louis M. “Grandpa” Jones. He also includes compositions that he wrote or co-wrote.

You can buy a copy of new CD by calling the Hephzibah Opry at (706) 755-4584, writing douggrass@comcast.net, visiting dougflowersmusic.com or writing: Doug Flowers, P.O. Box 896, Hephzibah, GA 30815.

 

THIS TRAIN IS BOUND FOR GLORY: After more than 60 years of performing, Flo Carter is finally getting her first professional music video made by none other than her grandson, Bryan Williams, and his Bryton Entertainment video business partner Denton Adkinson.

The music selection, naturally, is Carter’s theme song This Train (Is Bound For Glory), which almost always is the number Carter uses to open her concerts.

Filming and editing of the video is expected to continue until August. Just last week, filming was taking place by the Georgia Railroad passenger car in the Augusta Museum of History with R&B superstar Sharon Jones playing the role of the train conductor.

You can also look for WJBF anchor Jennie Montgomery and Parade of Quartets’ TV program host the Rev. Karlton Howard riding on that train bound for glory.

 

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