Saying goodbye to long time friends

It has been said that all good things must come to and end. It’s easy to assume that these good things will always be there and last forever. I started in the music business when I was just a kid. I was fortunate to have met many of the people in the bluegrass business, as a kid, that I remain friends with today. It’s much like having family members when you’re out on the road to talk, laugh, and share great experiences with. I always joke that going to a bluegrass show is like going to a family reunion, but with people that you like. I say that in jest, but families often have difficulties being able to get along with each other, now don’t they?

Word came in late last night from Jim Peva (bluegrass and Bean Blossom historian) that Myron Dillman, 79, of Peru, Indiana, has passed away. Myron, or “Mr. D”, as the “Bean Blossom family” knew him, was father to Dwight and Tim Dillman. For years, Mr. D was a staple at Bean Blossom and could be seen driving the water truck around Bean Blossom’s grounds keeping the dust at bay and delivering ice to all who could catch him as he sped by on his “Gator”. I always enjoyed talking to him and teasing him about various things. He was certainly feisty, but always enjoyed the conversation. It has occurred to me that Mr D. was also single-handedly responsible for saving the longest running bluegrass festival in the country, as he was father to Dwight Dillman, who purchased the park and made major improvements, in 1998. Mr D spent many years playing fiddle on and off with Dr. Ralph Stanley. I don’t know that Dr. Ralph has ever known a greater fan of his music than Mr. D. My sincerest condolences go out to the Dillman family. Mr. D will be greatly missed and his legacy will live on.

Another report came in late yesterday, from our friend Ted Lehmann (author of the blogspot “Ted Lehmann’s Bluegrass, Books and Brainstorms”) that Steve Dilling, long-time banjo player and emcee for Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme out, will be retiring from the road. Steve has been a true friend of mine through the years. I first met him when I was about fifteen years old. The year was around 1988 and I was traveling with a group to Denton, North Carolina for a couple of weekend shows. During our layover,  I spent a memorable week with his family, which included his parents Don and Linda and wife Macy. I went water skiing with the Dillings and we still have a good laugh or two about it when I get to see them. They are all truly first-class folks. Steve was banjo player for the Bass Mountain Boys, at that time. He’s always had the gift of stage presence and has been a huge contributor to the consistency of the IIIrd Tyme Out sound. Many groups have their “good days” and “bad days”, but IIIrd Tyme Out has been one of the most consistently great sounding bands ever in the business. Steve’s off-stage personality and friendship are something I will definitely miss. I can only hope I will get to see him and his family occasionally, as Feller and Hill continues traveling the roads.

Everyone has experienced losing or saying goodbye to a friend. I think the key here is learning to never take for granted those great moments we share with those who have made an impact in our lives. Never pass an opportunity to tell someone how much you appreciate them or love them, because you never know if and when you’ll see them next. Some of the best times and memories I’ve had involve these two great men and I will continue to cherish those times. I wish Steve the best of luck and I am confident he will be successful in anything he chooses to do.

Tom Feller