Day of bluegrass to raise money for Carroll Hospice

Day of bluegrass to raise money for Carroll Hospice
The Carroll County Ramblers will host a benefit concert for Carroll Hospice Saturday at Arcadia volunteer fire company. (HANDOUT)

After the death of their mother in 2013, siblings and bandmates Bonnie and Dale Eyler, wanted to honor parents Dottie and Leroy, who spent their final days at Carroll Hospice.

Bonnie organized the first Carroll Hospice Benefit Bluegrass Show in October 2013, featuring a number of musicians donating their time performing a concert with proceeds supporting the organization. The third annual benefit show will take place Saturday at the Arcadia Volunteer Fire Company, just over the county line in Baltimore County.


Dottie and Leroy, who died in 2005, founded the Carroll County Ramblers in 1961, and raised their children on bluegrass music. When they were young, Bonnie and Dale were brought into the band, today consisting of the two siblings as well as Steve Waldon Jr. and Dave Dulaney.

"We thought this was our way to give back to an organization that was so important to our family," Bonnie said. "They loved bluegrass so much, this is a way to use that to do some good."

Bonnie said they decided not to reach out to Carroll Hospice until the entire concert was planned. Once she told them about the idea of hosting an all-day concert with funds supporting them, she said they were instantly on board. Following the first concert, they were able to raise $2,300 for the facility.

This year, the Ramblers will be joined by six other bluegrass bands: Hickory Hill Bluegrass, Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition, Iron Ridge, Foggy Hollow, Hanover Express and the Salem Bottom Boys. Some of the groups have been performing at the benefit since its establishment, while others are taking the stage for the first time this year.

Doug Sims, of Hickory Hill, performed during the first concert in 2013. He said he was ecstatic when told about the idea for the concert.

"I thought it was the greatest idea for a concert I had heard in a long time," Sims said. "It's a cherished organization. I used it for a couple of my family members. I told [the Ramblers] I would do anything to help them out."

Each of the seven groups will perform an hourlong set at the event, bringing the history of bluegrass to the forefront. Sims said this style of music has spoken to him his entire life.

"I was raised on bluegrass back before it was popular," Sims said. "It's the sound of America. It tells the stories of the mountain folk who came down the mountains to work and they brought the music with them."

Sims said it's lyrical content of bluegrass he finds himself returning to, time and time again.

"Back in those days, nothing good happened, that's why it's so sad. If something happened, it was always bad," Sims said. "A lot of bluegrass songs put pictures in my mind. It's so personal; I can relate."

Rick Jones, of Froggy Hollow Bluegrass, said this will be the first year his group performs for the benefit. Though he doesn't have the personal connection with Carroll Hospice the way the Eylers and Sims do, he said it's one of the missions of his band to support as many charitable cases as they can.

"I think with Arcadia being such a bluegrass community over there, the support is just always there for any kind of function," Jones said. "We're that kind of band. Any cause like that, we're always in to donate our time. We know how hard it can be to raise funds, so anything we can do to help, we can."

With seven groups coming together for an entire day of bluegrass music for a good cause, Jones said an event like this highlights what he loves about the music scene.

"Everybody in the bluegrass community gets along," Jones said. "Nobody makes a living at this. We all work jobs. It's just a hobby, but it's one that is fun and can do some good at the same time."



If You Go:

What: Carroll Hospice Benefit Bluegrass Concert

When: Noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 25

Where: Arcadia Volunteer Fire Company, 5415 Arcadia Ave., Upperco

Cost: $20

For more information: Call 410-374-2895