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The Lilly Brothers
Bluegrass


The Lilly Brothers, Everett and B., 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 Michel Burt Lilly were born three years apart in Clear Creek, WV. Everett played the mandolin, banjo and fiddle while B. played guitar; both brothers sang; early influences included the Delmore Brothers, the Callahan Bros, 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 WKLS 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 Ridge Runners. 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; Everett 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 1950s. Between 1958 and 1959, Everett 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 '70, Everett's son was killed in a car crash, causing him and his wife Joann to leave Beantown and return to West Virginia. B. Lilly came down a while later to help Everett host a local television show, but eventually returned to the city. After 1971, Everett 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. Sandra Brennan

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