Ramblin' Rhodes

Stroll down memory lane with music columnist Don Rhodes.

Ramblin' Rhodes: Lewis performers inducted into Gospel hall of fame

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The Southern Gospel Music Association recently inducted Polly Lewis Williamson Copsey and “Little Roy” Lewis of Lincolnton, Ga., into the SGMA Hall of Fame.

For more than 50 years, Copsey and Lewis performed with The Lewis Family bluegrass gospel group of Lincolnton, Ga., on thousands of stages throughout the United States and Canada and recorded on more than 80 albums.

The induction ceremony took place Oct. 2 at the Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where the Hall of Fame building is located.

Among those attending the ceremony were Lewis and his wife, Bonnie; his singing partner, Lizzy Long; Copsey’s daughter and son, Sheri and Scott, and Sheri’s husband, Jeff Easter.

Copsey herself, now 76, was unable to attend because of a long-time physical condition.

Sheri and Jeff Easter, frequent performers on Bill Gaither’s Homecoming TV shows, are lifetime members of the Southern Gospel Music Association.

Also inducted in the living category were Duane Nicholson and Tim Riley.

Inducted in the deceased category were John T. Benson Jr. and Thomas A. Dorsey. Georgia-born Dorsey wrote the gospel classics Peace in the Valley and Take My Hand Precious Lord.

Roy “Pop” Lewis, the father of Polly and Little Roy and founder of The Lewis Family, was inducted into the SGMA Hall of Fame in 2000. The Lewis Family was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1992 and the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame in 2006.

The Lewis Family’s TV show aired from 1954 to 1992 on WJBF studios in North Augusta and Augusta and was syndicated to several other cities. Their fans have included Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins and First Lady Mamie Eisenhower.

Jim Nabors edited their films at WJBF before he became television’s Gomer Pyle.

Other long-time members of The Lewis Family not yet inducted into the SGMA Hall of Fame are Janis Lewis Phillips, Wallace Lewis, Lewis Phillips, Travis Lewis and Miggie Lewis.

The Lewis Family hosted their own bluegrass and gospel music festival at Elijah Clark State Park in Lincolnton until 2009.

Last year, the festival was revived by Little Roy Lewis and his musical partner, Lizzy Long. They intend to host the festival again next May.

TRINITY RIVER AT BIBLE DELIVERANCE: The bluegrass, gospel and country music band Trinity River from Callahan, Fla., will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at Bible Deliverance Temple on the corner of Eve and Fenwick streets in Augusta.

Admission is free with a love offering to be taken. Call (706) 736-1600. Opening will be Eryn Eubanks and The Family Fold, who plays at Bible Deliverance’s recreation center most Saturday afternoons, and the Rev. Kelly McKnight’s band, Restoration.

Trinity River’s 2014 performances include Jan. 4 at the 38th annual Jekyll Island (Ga.) New Year’s Bluegrass Festival and on May 3 at the Little Roy & Lizzy Festival in Lincolnton.

DON’T FORGET THE GRASCALS: The award-winning bluegrass music band returns to this area to perform Friday, Oct. 18, in the Imperial Theatre as part of the Morris Museum of Art’s Budweiser True Music Southern Soul & Song series.

Tickets are $15, $22 and $27. Call (706) 722-8341 or order online at imperialtheatre.com. Guest artists are Audie Blaylock and his band Redline.

BALLADEER JEFFERSON ROSS: One of the best balladeers and songwriters you ever will hear, Jefferson Ross, will perform on Saturday, Oct. 19, at M.A.D. Studios Augusta, 307 11th St. (upstairs). The door opens at 7 p.m. Admission is $10.

Opening will be Allison Skipper and Shane Fields.

Ross, who grew up in Lincolnton, played in the bands of Southern gospel music greats Wally Fowler, The Hemphills and The Happy Goodman Family before becoming country star Terri Clark’s bandleader and backup vocalist for 10 years.

CLINTON GREGORY AT HEPHZIBAH OPRY: Hit country singer and songwriter Clinton Gregory returns to the Hephzibah (Ga.) Opry for a country and bluegrass festival taking place from 1 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26.

Admission is free for the music but $10 for the fish fry beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Performers also will include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Split Rail, Flatland Express, 1 Step Ahead, Cricket Ridge and Calvin Esley Lewis (yes, a relative of that Lewis Family).

The Opry in Hephzibah, Ga., is at 4391 Saxon Drive. Call (706) 755-4584.

SAWYER BROWN IN NEWBERRY: The huge ’80s and ’90s group Sawyer Brown will perform their hits including Betty’s Being Bad, The Dirt Road, Some Girls Do and Thank God For You at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, at the Newberry (S.C.) Opera House. Tickets are $55. Call (803) 276-6264 or order online at newberryoperahouse.com.

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