Lynn Morris’s Show at the ABF: Triumphant!

Casey Henry

I know y'all have been waiting for a report on Lynn's show on Sunday. Sorry it's taken me so long to write about it. I had to drive back to Nashville all day on Monday, and then yesterday was largely taken up by teaching and writing my Banjo Newsletter article for June (which will also be about Lynn's show, BTW). So now, before I leave the house to go down to my part-time day job (working at a dentist office), I finally have time to tell you how great Lynn did.

The crowd fairly buzzed with anticipation prior to her set. She played at 4:00, the next-to-the-last set of the festival. I got the feeling that most of the crowd was just there to see Lynn. (And I didn't envy the Boxcars, who had to play after the 15% of the crowd that remained.)

The Lynn Morris Band on Stage

The Lynn Morris Band on stage: Jesse Brock, Tom Adams (hidden), Lynn, Marshall Wilborn (behind Lynn), Ron Stewart. I was truly sorry that I forgot my camera so all I have are poor-quality iPhone pictures. See the links at the bottom of the post for some better shots!

When the emcee introduced the band, the crowd gave them a standing ovation. They kicked off the set with a fast banjo instrumental, just as in days of old. But the audience was really waiting for Lynn to sing. The next tune, "I Wish It Would Rain," gave them what they wanted. Lynn and Marshall start with a duet on the chorus and after the first line, applause erupted. Everyone was SO HAPPY to hear Lynn sing again!

The rest of the set was a classic LMB show:


Gonna Have Love

Mama's Hand - Lynn dedicated this song to Hazel Dickens, who wrote it. Hazel passed away last month. "Good woman. Great spirit. This song's for her," Lynn said.

Old Rip - Lynn pulled out the clawhammer banjo for this original tune. Her right side was quite damaged by her stroke and I could tell that she'd been working really hard on her banjo playing. She even started to tell the story that goes along with the song. "I lived in Texas," she said. "They have horny toads, and I like 'em!" Marshall finished out the tale, which tells of the horny toad for whom the song is named, who supposedly lived for 80 years in the corner stone of a small-town courthouse in Texas. Before she kicked off the tune Lynn said "Slow!" and indeed it was slower than she used to play it, but it sounded great at that speed. Jesse Brock gave Lynn a great big hug after it was over and it was a feel-good moment for everyone!

It Rains Everywhere I Go

If Teardrops Were Pennies

Sweet Dixie - Bill Emerson, one of the truly great banjo players in bluegrass, got up to play one of his original tunes. For the last couple of years Lynn has been running sound at Bill's shows. "He's my boss," she said.

Spay Your Pet - This is a very cute, quite funny public service announcement the band did for the SPAY/USA. You can hear it here (scroll down to the middle of the page and you'll see a little blue box with the player right above it) and order a copy here.

Black Pony

Wrong Road Again - This was their last song and before it Lynn said, "You know I had a stroke, but I'm LIVIN'!" and affirmed what we could all see, which was that even though she's not, and may never be, back to where she was pre-stroke, playing music is something she still loves to do and it makes her happy.

Can't Stop Me From Dreaming - This encore song is a banjo and bass duet. Earl Scruggs recorded it years ago, and Marshall recorded it on his Root 5 album. It was great to hear it again.

Overall the show was truly great. It takes real courage to get up and perform in front of a big crowd that expects a lot, especially when you can't execute everything to your previous level of perfection. But Lynn has always been strong and determined and those same qualities have carried her through her stroke recovery.

Here are some links to other media coverage of the show, with better pictures than mine!

Northern Virginia Daily - This is a good article and has several great pictures of Lynn, Marshall, and a couple of their cats.

The Bluegrass Blog - Nice little article and some good pictures from the show.

John Rosenberger, the executive director of the Apple Blossom Festival, said that he thought Lynn's return to the stage was "incredibly moving," according to the Winchester Star.

Bluegrass Virginia Blog - Also with some nice pictures from the show.

Lynn Morris Band Facebook page - in case you want to drop Lynn a note.

Lynn's Clawhammer Banjo DVD (Vol. 1) - Because everybody should have one!

3 thoughts on “Lynn Morris’s Show at the ABF: Triumphant!

  1. Martin Bacon

    Hi Casey,

    I have been looking all over the Internet for reviews of Lynn’s show. This is the best one yet. Thanks.
    I got to talk to Lynn at the MM Banjo Camp and she made me smile. I just mentioned that I was glad to hear that she was going to perform again. To which she said (very clearly I might add) “I can’t speak but I can sing.” That is when I knew it was going to be a great show. I was thinking that that was something Mel Tillis might have said. I wish I could have been there. Being a witness to someone overcoming such adversity is such a moving experience. What courage. She is a hero of mine.


  2. Bobbi G

    Go Lynn!

    I’ve been waiting for this kind of news!

    And now we have yet another thing in common — we sing/play bluegrass music, we’re both married to amazing bass players and WE BOTH BEAT STROKE!!!

    God bless you both — I knew He would come through for you!

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