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Smithsonian Institution
Midwestern CrossroadsAmericans Old and NewMidwestern CrossroadsSouthern FusionLouisiana, Where Music is King
Bob Lewis

Bluegrass is popular throughout the United States, and there is nowhere it is more enthusiastically appreciated than in the prairie country of northern Illinois and Missouri. This is the area that produced the music's current standar-bearer, Alison Kraus, and local fans still remember her debut as a child prodigy, setting the region's festivals on fire with her blazing fiddle breaks. At the Western Illinois Bluegrass Days, old and young players come together to trade licks, eat watermelon, watch an array of popular bands, and jam into the wee hours of the night.
       One group of old-timers, players in their 60s and 70s, travel from festival to festival through the summer, then relocate to the Mexican border region for the winter, parking their RVs together and keeping alive an old-time country music tradition that mixes gospel and c&w standards with songs that hark back to the Victorian parlor tradition.
       The Lewis Family, by contrast, includes players who are barely into their teens. Bob Lewis set out to raise a family band, and he has met with startling success. His son, Lil' Bob, is a virtuoso on fiddle and bass, and his daughter Joy was recently given a new mandolin by the Gibson company in recognition of her brilliant instrumental skills. With the rest of the family singing, playing, clog dancing, and even tossing in some cornball comedy routines, the Lewises are favorites throughout the midwestern circuit. The family still travels together in a bus, and a toddling third generation promises to keep the family tradition alive for a long time into the future.

Related Links

        Take a spin through this Bob Lewis Website

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