By Alicia Couch Payne
On Saturday, April 7th, I drug my friend Lisa to a little red barn in Suwanee. This little red barn is none other than Everett’s Music Barn. It’s an institution in the bluegrass music scene in North Georgia. Musical magic has been created on the Everett’s property since 1964. I have passed by the Music Barn more times than I can count but never stopped before. I had always heard that great music was played in that hall though.
I grew up listening to the husband of my mother’s best friend (who is like a second dad to me) play bluegrass and older rock classics. He plays multiple instruments like the fiddle, guitar, and piano. I loved to listen to him and his father pick. For those not from the south, you may be like “What’s pick mean?” Pick means to play their string instruments. I remember being captivated by them pickin so it’s no surprise that I found myself instantly drawn into the music coming out of the Everett’s Music Barn.
Everett’s Music Barn was started by brothers Randall and Roger Everett. Their brother Jerry Everett was a Gwinnett police officer who was killed in the line of duty. Family and friends would stop by the Everett’s after Jerry’s death and would often turn to music to deal with their grief.
Randall and Roger played guitar. Randall loved country music and listened to radio stations coming from Nashville as well as the local Buford based station, WDYX. The brothers entered a contest hosted by WDYX earning a spot on the “Sleepy Head George Show”. While playing on this show they met future band members Roy, Ruth, and Weldon Westray. Rounding out their newly formed band, “Country Ramblers” were their eldest brother Leroy and Slim Higdon.
With Mama Everett’s permission, the brothers and other musicians began to play at the Everett residence. They soon outgrew their living room jam sessions and in 1968 Leroy added a music room onto the back of the house. Leroy had a dream of building a music barn as the music room was outgrown. With no money but plenty of family and friends to help, they dismantled an old Norcross duplex and reassembled it on the Everett’s property. Thus, Everett’s Music Barn was born in truth.
When I walked into the actual Music Barn, I instantly got nostalgic. My father wasn’t a musician but loved bluegrass music and would often sing along when other’s picked. I thought “Wow, daddy would enjoy this so much.” I am my father’s daughter and found myself tapping my feet to the music. I was enthralled as each musician; the fiddler, banjo player, bass player (The bass they play is not the string instrument that resembles a guitar but the largest member of the string family also known as a double or upright bass.), mandolin player, harmonica player, and vocalist would do their part in the song.
I was encouraged to venture to the house that the Everetts grew up where I found even more musicians and people who were all enjoying the notes they created. The musicians played by ear as no sheet music was found in any of the several rooms that music was being played in. Instead you would hear them briefly discuss the song to be played such as the key and the tempo. They could find the others’ tempo and in no time they were in harmony.
Although brothers Randall, Roger, and Leroy have each passed away, regular jam sessions can still be found just about every Saturday night. Their legacy lives on within the Everett family. Everett’s Music Barn relies solely on donations given by those that come to listen to the wonderful musicians that come from all over to play there.
Everett’s Music Barn is located at 4055 Stonecypher Road in Suwanee. For more information on this local legend, visit their website www.everettsmusicbarn.net or check them out on Facebook.