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John Henry
The Lilly Brothers & Don Stover

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About the video

The Lilly Brothers perform "John Henry". With Don Stover, from Early Recordings

About The artists

A much sought-after bluegrass duo of the 40's and 50's, known for their
excellent high vocal harmonies, the Lilly Brothers, Charles Everett and Bea,
played old-time/bluegrass music together for over three decades. They may best
be remembered in New England, where they were a fixture in the downtown
Boston music scene from the early '60s through 1980.

Charles Everett and older sibling Mitchell Burt "Bea" Lilly were born three years
apart in Clear Creek, West Virginia. Everett played the mandolin, banjo, and
fiddle while Bea played guitar; both brothers sang; early influences included the
Delmore Brothers, the Callahan Brothers, and the Monroes. the Lillys debuted in
1938 singing old-time country on a West Virginia radio station. They initially
billed themselves as the Lonesome Holler Boys. Later they added a banjo and
became a bluegrass group. In 1939, they began performing regularly at the
newly established WJLS Beckley, where they performed together and with other
musicians. After that they spent a few years at various Southern stations playing
in such groups as the Smiling Mountain Boys and Red Belcher's Kentucky

They made their recording debut in 1948 while working with the latter group at
WWVA. They remained at the station through 1950, whereupon they returned
home after a heated fight with Belcher over money. From there the Lillys split up
for a time; Charles became a mandolin player and tenor with Flatt & Scruggs'
Foggy Mountain Boys, and remained with them through early 1952 when he left
to join his brother, fiddler Tex Logan, and banjo picker Don Stover in Boston.
They got their first job playing on WCOP's Hayloft Jamboree and from there hit
the local club circuit.

the Lilly Brothers recorded fairly frequently during the '50s. Between 1958 and
1959, Charles spent another year with Flatt & Scruggs while Stover did a bit of
touring with other bands. But for that, the Lilly Brothers remained intact through
1970. In addition to playing downtown Boston, they also played the local festival
circuit and were instrumental in the development of urban bluegrass. In the early
'70s, Charles' son was killed in a car crash, causing him and his wife Joann to
leave Beantown and return to West Virginia. Bea Lilly came down a while later to
help Everett host a local television show, but eventually returned to the city. After
1971, Charles infrequently joined the band to perform at festivals during the
summers and occasionally recorded with them. the Lilly Brothers' career was
later chronicled in a 1979 documentary, True Facts in a Country Song. Suffering
from Alzheimers disease, Bea Lilly died on September 18, 2005 in Plymouth,
Massachusetts at the age of 83; Everett Lilly died at his home in Clear Creek on
May 8, 2012; he was 87 years old. - Sandra Brennan