By Michael Stewart / Executive Editor
The Meridian Star
The International Singing Brakeman's Association's (TISBA) tribute week to Jimmie Rodgers kicks off Sunday and runs through June 1 in the hospitality room of Best Western on South Frontage Road.
The event will feature musicians from across the country, including some from Mississippi, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas. One musician — Wayne Ryan — travels from Ontario, Canada each year to participate.
"Some just come for a day. Most of those who come every year stay for the whole week. It's like a family reunion each year," TISBA secretary Leola Jones said of the annual event. "We always have it beginning May 26 because that's the day Jimmie Rodgers died."
Rodgers, known as the "The Singing Brakeman," "The Blue Yodeler" and "The Father of Country Music," was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1927 and died on May 26, 1933 while in New York City recording his last album. He was 35 at the time of his death.
The tribute begins at 2 p.m. each day. Anyone who can sing or play an instrument is welcome to join the musicians. The early musicians start clearing out about 6 p.m. for the bands that will perform that night.
The tribute typically runs until about 10 p.m. each night.
"We don't set a time to end it," Jones said. "So as long as they want to play and sing, we are there."
The music runs the gamut from gospel and bluegrass to traditional country.
"We try to keep the traditional country music going, like George Jones, Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams," Jones said.
Elvis impersonator Buddy Kidd returns this year, and there will be plenty of Jimmie Rodgers' songs as well.
And at 6 p.m., there will be food provided by the members of TISBA.
Admission is $10 daily at the door, or attendees can purchase a name badge for $25 that is good for the whole week. There is no additional cost for the food.
Founded by Charlie Ezell and Carl Fitzgerald in 1989, The International Singing Brakeman Association has been going strong ever since. In addition to the annual tribute, the group meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. in the Hospitality Room at Best Western. Admission is $5.
This year's lineup for the International Brakeman's Association tribute to Jimmie Rodgers includes the following acts:
• Crossroads; Don Massey and Band
• Buddy Kidd
• Wayne Ryan
Wednesday, May 29
Mary McDonald & Dhana Cooper
Thursday, May 30
• The Skys
Friday, May 31
• Robert Breeland & Wood & Wire
Saturday, June 1
• Tyler Carroll and the Pine Ridge Bluegrass Band
• Dean Mitchell
Other performing artists throughout the week include Theola "Peewee Grayson, Tinker Frazier, Johnny Patterson, Don Landrum Jr., Roland Nester, Jimmy Roundtree, Bob Saxton, Stanley Pritchett, Bobby Symonds, David Posey, Linda Posey, Ray Coats, Jimmy Crane, Henry Felts, Merkel and Linda Glass, Bob Gray, Mary Faile, Linda Robinson, Celeste Shirley, Jim Parker, Andy Jones, and Benny and Linda Davis.