Vern Young, country/bluegrass performer, will perform Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Wayne County Fair in Palmyra.
OCCUPATION Country/Bluegrass performer
GREW UP Raised by his grandad in Palmyra
CATCH HIM Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 8 p.m. at the Wayne County Fair in Palmyra
What kind of work have you done throughout your life?
Vern has been performing country/bluegrass music for over 60 years, but it was after retiring from a government job in Utah that he moved to Lamar, Mo. in 1990 and started performing full-time on the bluegrass circuit. He has won the Society for the fan-chosen Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America Midwest traditional vocalist of the year six times since 1990. He was also nominated for the society’s national traditional singer award in Nashville in 1991 and 1992.
But it was the Wayne County Fair that launched his career in music performing.
“I hadn’t had any good work until the fair,” he said. “That paid real well and helped me survive.”
Vern worked for the government until age 65, occasionally performing at the local college in Utah where he lived. Over the years, he hosted several radio and television shows throughout the Rochester area.
How did you get started?
At the age of 15, Vern recalls going to the Grange League Federation on Main Street in Palmyra where they held dances regularly.
“I learned by watching the guitar player,” he said.
He and his friends would hang out at a small diner located in a railroad car. There they would sit in a booth and play guitar and sing while “listening to Ernest Tubb for a nickel on the juke box.”
From there, he began working in radio and television. Born Guy Young, Vern said someone in radio told him he’d have to change his name.
“Someone came up with ‘Vern’ and it stuck,” he said.
And so Vern Young was “born.”
How do feel about your final performance at the Wayne County Fair?
“Kinda sad,” he said. “I used to go there a long time ago. I was raised by my grandad...and he always took me to the fair.”
Vern said he loved to watch the horse races and the old grandstand was one of his favorite places to go.
Retirement isn’t Vern’s idea, despite his age, but the other members of the band, Dobro player Joe Smith and female singer and upright bass player Charlotte Mayall, simply can’t do it anymore due to the tremendous amount of traveling required, Vern said.
“I have fond memories,” Vern said of his musical career and the fair.
“We’ve (The Vern Young Band) had big crowds and they tell me I’ve been drawing the biggest crowds they have. That makes me feel good.”