Central City, Kentucky
A few photos and notes from Sue-On's Travel Journal

..click for larger images
Bill has fond memories of his first meeting with the Everly Brothers back in 1964,
when he performed as an opening act for the Cavalcade of Stars show 
featuring Everlys, Roger Miller, and the Newbeats.
Clippings from the Hillman Autobiography: 50-Year Musical Odyssey

Over the years we've made a point of visiting sites honouring some of our favourite music influences. We've created Web tributes for artists such as - Elvis, Sun Studios, Beatles, Buddy Holly, etc. No musical act, however, has had more of an influence on our music than The Everly Brothers. In 2013 we made the long trek from the middle of Canada down to the Everly Brothers Museum. The Museum is in Central City, in Western Kentucky, the place where Don and Phil Everly spent many of their pre-fame years. We've featured many of their songs in our repertoire over our 50-years of performing and this was a chance to visit many of the places that the Everlys sang about in John Prine's song, PARADISE: Muhlenberg County ~ Green River ~ Peabody Coal Company ~ Rochester Dam. . . and Paradise.
Everly BrothersJohn Prine (composer) live | John Fogerty | Jim and Jesse 1976

When I was a child my family would travel
Down to Western Kentucky where my parents were born
And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered
So many times that my memories are worn.

And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away

Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River
To the abandoned old prison down by Adrie Hill
Where the air smelled like snakes and we'd shoot with our pistols
But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.

Then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.

When I die let my ashes float down the Green River
Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam
I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin'
Just five miles away from wherever I am.

As we neared Central City, we came upon the little town of Beaver Dam, KY.
Obviously we had to make a small side trip to visit the birthplace of
Bill Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass music.
Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky was Elvis' first recording at Sun Records in Memphis.

We followed the directions, across the train tracks, up a very winding road,
through a farmer's field, and came upon the homestead.
It was very rustic, and in the "hollows" were 
various stages strung with lights, ready for any festival.
This brought back many memories of own festival back home in Manitoba
Boggy Creek Mountain Music Festival,
where we were performers as well as organizers 
with Lewis Kaselitz, who was originally from Tennessee.

Bill just had to get on stage to absorb the spirit of Bill Monroe and the whole bluegrass vibe.

We found our way back down the hills only to see this sign
which took us onto another "jog" in our journey to Central City.
Uncle Pen was Bill Monroe's uncle, whom he wrote and sang about:
Uncle Pen
"....Late in the evening about sundown.
High on the hill and above the town.
Uncle Pen played the fiddle lord how it would ring.
You could hear it talk; you could hear it sing"

Unfortunately, the "curator" of Uncle Pen's cabin decided it was a slow day and
he went back to town.
Our GPS, Carmen the Garmin said that if we followed Uncle Pen Lane,
we would meet up with the main road.
The gravel road gave way to a narrow dirt road.
But Carmen insisted and we've always trusted her!

Just another .7 miles to the main road, Carmen said.
Only now, the dirt road has deteriorated into deep ruts, 
some filled with water, others with rocks.
At .5 miles, we finally found a space wide enough for us to turn around.
"Keep left! Over to the right! Stay straight! Gun the engine! Watch that rock! Don't slow down!"
Our little Honda Civic...got us out of a bad spot,
along with Bill's skillful driving and MY screaming directions ;-)

The car was a bit of a mess, as you can see ;)
Well. . .  actually this is a photo of us in Don Everly's first sports car - an MG
He bought it with his first royalty cheque, 
and has since donated it to the museum in Central City.
Our Honda carried lots of that yellow soil in the wheel wells for most the rest of the trip.
Can we call that "souvenirs"?

We've made it! 
We knew we were in Everly country since the first street we saw in the city was
which was adorned with signs referring to the Everlys
. . . and a brief stop along the Boulevard at McDonalds
assured us that we were in the right town,
since the restaurant featured many displays of EB collectibles, photos and art.

A little further on and we see the sign:


NEXT. . .
The Museum Tour Begins


1. Arrival
2. Tour Begins
3. Showcases
4. Homecoming
5. Locals
6. Tributes
7. Collectibles
8. Photos
9. Storeroom
10. Departure



Photos by Bill and Sue-On Hillman©