Marshall Stephenson & the Bluegrass Train

Location: R.A. Fountain

From the November 8, 2007 FAD:

Marshall Stephenson has been playing and promoting bluegrass in eastern NC for over 40 years, and he’s been one of our most popular performers since we opened, sometimes with his family band, the Stephenson Brothers and Linda, sometimes with one of his all-star bluegrass bands, which tonight includes another Fountain favorite, Les Sandy, on fiddle; Kenneth Glover on bass; J.K. Godbolt on banjo; and Joe Pessolano on mandolin and tenor vocals.

Tonight marks Joe Pessolano’s first time playing RAF; he is a West Virginian now living in Clayton, where Kenneth Glover also resides. Glover has played here with Ted Jones and the Tar Heel Boys, and J.K. Godbolt with Hickory Hill Bluegrass.

Les Sandy learned to play fiddle from Vassar Clements back in 1949, when they were traveling together in a band playing the Tamiami Trail in Florida. After he and Vassar got fired from that band, they parted company. Les headed to Key West, with his brother. Together they became the house band at Sloppy Joe’s–where Les often played backgammon with that bar’s most famous customer, Ernest Hemingway. But once he’d saved enough money to head back to North Carolina, Les came home, where he soon joined up with Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys.

With Monroe, Sandy played bass on tours and recordings during the mid-1950s, when he was also the hayseed comic Uncle Puny. He’s toured and recorded with Jim and Jesse, and as host of a live music t.v. show in Wilmington, he gave young Charlie Daniels one of his first performance dates.

After recording over the years with most of the legends of bluegrass music, Sandy finally put out his own CD, in 2005, with an RAF all-star band that included Frankie Harrison on mandolin and the late Johnnny Batchelor on guitar.

Stephenson has also recently released a 2-CD set and DVD, both taken from a live all-star performance he hosted in Selma earlier this year.

Saturday night’s bluegrass show will be preceded by an old-fashioned fish fry prepared by Nelson King. King, who caught all the stripers he’ll be cooking, will prepare 50 plates, and they will be ready about 6 p.m. “Be sure to tell folks they’ll have bones in,” he cautioned. Plates are $6, and include fish, potatoes, slaw, hush puppies (also fried on site by King), and iced tea. Proceeds will benefit the Fountain Presbyterian Church.

Tags: bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, Concert, tradtional bluegrass