Remembering Smokey Greene, Harold Ford & Nick Barr

Smokey Greene and Grandma Carrie (Kevin Richards Archives)

Remembering Northeast Music Legends : Smokey Greene, Nick Barr and Harold Ford

My journey in Country Music and Radio has been one for the record books.  Mostly, because of the kind and talented people, fans, dancers and performers I've met and worked with along the way. I've had the honor to meet and stand side by side with some of the most talented musicians in the Northeast, since I was 12 years old.  I would like to take a moment to shine a spotlight on 3 of these Northeast Music Legends that have recently passed.  I hope that they knew how much we ALL appreciated the hours of hard work, the thousands of miles traveled, and the efforts to play music, and brighten the world, at every performance-- and allowing a young radio DJ (at the time) to learn from the BEST!

Smokey Greene (10/19/23)- Capital Region Thomas Edison Music Hall Of Fame Inductee

Smokey Greene was a favorite at every fair and festival in New York State for decades.  From Washington County, New York to a Bluegrass Pioneer - Smokey was a mainstay on the Northeast Music Scene. Although he played the biggest Bluegrass Music Festivals on the East Coast, he was so down to earth, he'd often host impromptu neighborhood music concerts, including on my Grandparents front porch! (Harris and Carrie Dunbar, Grandparents of Kevin Richards)

After years hosting his own radio show, making records and opening for the biggest names in Bluegrass and Country Music, Smokey also worked as a promoter: hosting the first Bluegrass Festival in New York State in Corinth, NY. 

Smokey's Swan Song, posted in his obituary tells it all:

For over 70 years I’ve lived to sing
From Canada to Florida and places in between
Bar rooms and Honkytonks, Dance Halls and open air
Anywhere folks would listen, you’d find me singing there
Risqué songs, sacred songs, I have sung’em all
Songs of tragedy and romance when the works all done this fall
Mother songs, Father songs, songs of man’s best friend
The songs of Hank and E.T. I’ve sung over and over again
As the years keep rolling by, I have to face the fact
Instead of closing down the show, I’m now the opening act
The many nights of losing sleep and miles have took their toll
It’s time for me to admit this show is getting old
If I’m reserved a spot in Heaven and I fly up on a cloud
When I pass through the pearly gate, I’ll still be singing loud
I think I’ll do just one more show before I move along
When the Grim Reaper knocks on my door, I’ll sing him a song

More: Tribute from Saratoga Today - Proctors' Tribute - Bluegrass Today Tribute


Harold Ford (4/4/24)- Founder Of The Spirit Of Johnny Cash Show

Harold Ford was already an established musician when he found a demand for his performances of Johnny Cash Music. Ford's tribute to Johnny Cash was so popular that he launched 'The Spirit Of Johnny Cash Show', that was praised by members of both the Cash and Carter family.  Ford toured all over to keep the music of Johnny Cash alive in concert and story.  

During the pandemic, when everyone got 'creative', Harold Ford teamed up with me (Kevin Richards and The Country Kickers) to host a small 'Drive In' concert and line dance series to keep people safely 'entertained' during the pandemic at drive-in movie theaters.  Those memories, and countless shows he performed will live on forever.  Music fans, beyond the Johnny Cash catalog, enjoyed his talents and efforts to entertain.

A note from Harold Ford's daughter:  Sherry Walthers

My father Harold Ford (Harold Bashford) passed away yesterday. He was an amazing performer both with my mom Mary Alice Bashford (an award-winning singer in her own right) playing on the radio in Phoenix Arizona for Glen Campbell when I was a small child in the early 60's. And later as "The Spirit of Johnny Cash"! for the last dozen or so years to millions of adoring fans! He performed all over Nashville to the likes of Reba McEntire, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, including performing a requested number for Brad Pitt. He spent a good amount of time with the Cash family, working on a book and a movie. As a child we spent years traveling across the country as a family, all nine of us! Leaving the state of New York in 1964 traveling old route 66 all the way to Arizona. Whether in a car or a pickup truck, we visited all 48 Continental States plus Mexico and Canada! When asked why he traveled so much he would say "I want to see the wild West while it still is"! My father was always proud of his children and his musical ability! If you want to click on the link below you will hear the interview he did with the radio station in Nashville Tennessee. I will miss the music, the laughter, his quick wit and sense of humor. Wherever we were he would play the guitar and we would all join in! I think I will miss that the most! I love you Dad!

More: Saratoga Today Tribute - Spirit Of Johnny Cash Web Site


Nick Barr (4/9/24)- Bluegrass Musician and Bluegrass Radio Show Host

Nick Barr loved Bluegrass Music- as a musician and radio personality- he shared that passion with all of us for decades!  I have met some incredible people during my radio career, and Nick was one of those 'cool cats' that I had the pleasure of working with in the studio.  A true professional and always supportive and encouraging to a young DJ just getting started.  In addition to radio shows, I also had the chance to share the stage with Nick at several events, including the Northeast Country Music Association Awards Shows.  

Nick remained a favorite and important part of the Adirondack Bluegrass League and Bluegrass Festival Community until his passing.  His contributions and promotion of Bluegrass Musicians will always be appreciated.

A social media post from Bill Healy:

Sorry to hear of the passing of my friend Nick Barr this week. As long as I have been around bluegrass I saw him around, then I got to know him by the late 1990s and we did some playing together. Always a free spirit, he never became an official member of any of my bands, but for more than 20 years I can't remember him ever turning me down when I asked him to play. He always asked, "Where? When? and what do I wear?" He always knew his parts, and was always ready to play fiddle, mandolin, or bass. A good guy.

More: Nick Barr Obituary  - Radio Show Tribute


--- Smokey Greene Concert Ad ---

--- Harold Ford Concert Ad ---


--- Nick Barr Radio Promo Pic ---

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