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Don Stover

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Don Stover was one of bluegrass' best-loved musicians. A benefit concert featuring Bela Fleck, Tony Trischka, Laurie Lewis, Chesapeake, Bill Keith, and Jim Rooney at the Somerville Theater in Somerville, Massachusetts in November 1994, raised more than nine thousand dollars for Stover to undergo a brain tumor operation. A video of the event was subsequently released by Homespun Tapes. Stover was instrumental in spreading bluegrass in the northeast as a member of the Lilly Brothers, the house band at Boston's Hillbilly Ranch from 1952 until 1970. Except for a short stint when he joined Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys in 1957, Stover performed with the Lilly Brothers at the club six times a week, 50 weeks a year, as well as on a daily radio show broadcast by WCOP. A performance by Stover and the Lilly Brothers on July 4, 1967 was taped and released as Live at the Hillbilly Ranch in 1996. Although the group disbanded in 1970, Stover continued to influence a new generation of bluegrass players. In addition to forming a new band, the White Oak Mountain Boys, Stover recorded a solo album, Things in Life, featuring mandolinist David Grisman. Originally released in 1972, the album was reissued in 1995. Although he initially played banjo in the clawhammer style that he was taught by his mother, Stover altered his approach after hearing a Grand Ole Opry broadcast featuring Earl Scruggs playing in the more melodic, three-finger style with Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys. During the '40s, Stover balanced a full-time job as a coal miner with performances with the Coal River Valley Boys. In the mid-'70s, Stover relocated to Maryland. He succumbed to cancer on November 11, 1996 at the age of 68.

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White Oak, WV, 1928

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