About The Artist
The Chisholm Brothers, John and Charlie, were born in Bridgewater, MA to parents John and Helen Winslow Lamprey Chisholm. Charlie was born in October 1931 while John was born in May 1933. Their father was a chemist. But he was also a musician.
An article written by Ruth Douillett in December 2004 provides a glimpse into the early lives of John and Charlie Chisholm. Charlie was exposed to country music at an early age when he played Gene Autry records on an old Victrola player. As he grew up, he found country music to be especially appealing. He said, "It's Americana. It tells a story."
He also told Ms Douillett that country's resonance with him is reflected in his Scottish heritage. He noted that the roots of country music go back to Scotland and Ireland and that the fiddle music heard in the Applalachian Mountains was 'reminiscent of a bagpipe drone.'
While John and Charlie were growing up, the music bug was growing as well. They listed to WCKY in Cincinnati, Ohio and WWVA out of Wheeling, West Virginia.
Charlie said he recalls they really started playing together musically when they were around 12 or 13. They played and sang at church and school functions with their father. The three of them actually finished in second place in a talent contest on the Ted Mack Amateur Hour. Music was a part of the family, mostly as a hobby. Their father played the banjo, ukelele and the Hawaiian guitar. Their mother and sisters (Carol Anne and Arlene) played the piano. It was their father who taught them the guitar.
Both answered their country's call and enlisted in the U. S. Air Force in 1951. After long tours of duty - John in Korea; Charlie in Greenland, the brothers returned to Bridgewater in the mid-1950's and formed their first band, "The Chisholm Brothers."
About that same time, they visited the old Central Music store on High Street in Brockton, MA where they purchased two brand new Martin D-18 guitars. The Martin D sized guitars were expressly designed for country musicians because of their huge bass response, ideal for backing up country vocals. Charlie kept his D-18 for many years, and performed and recorded with it well into the 1980s. Charlie can be heard picking it on the recordings the brothers did, some of which are on youtube.
The Chisholm Brothers played a number of local nightclubs and honkytonks over a period of decades, and developed a strong fan following. They knew and performed on the same bill with some of the great country stars of the era including Hank Snow, Carl Smith, Faron Young, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Tex Ritter, Willma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Buck Owens, Charley Pride, Kenny Roberts, Elton Britt, Dick Curless and the immortal Ernest Tubb.
In a July 2020 phone conversation, Charlie related a meeting with Tex Ritter. It seems Tex had just returned from a trip to the UK and the Chisholm Brothers were going to back him up. While they were talking backstage, Tex showed the brothers what he had in his wallet. The Chisholm Brothers had become members of the Masons in September of 1966. Tex showed them the various Mason membership cards from all of the groups he had encountered in his travels across the country and around the world. Charlie said it was something he would not forget. In an April 2017 Mason's meeting, Charlie was presented with a Veterans Medal of honor to commmemorate his 50 years as a Mason. The services of both John and Charles were recounted on that occasion. During the occasion, Charlie got out his guitar and played "Blues Coming In" for the audience, which gave him a standing ovation.
During that same phone call, Charlie spoke of his brother John, always outgoing, mingling with the crowd and talking with them. Charlie said that on more than one occasion he had to remind John it was time to get back on stage so they could continue their performance.
In a three way phone conversation on July 18, 2020, Melodye and her dad, Charlie, revealed some memories of a concert at the Casa Loma Lounge starring Ernest Tubb. Here's Melodye's memory:
"I remember sitting with my mom at a table right in front of the stage at the Casa Loma. I was, maybe, 13. My dadís band (The Chisholm Brothers and the Country Squires) performed first. Ernest Tubb was introduced and entered from the side of the stage, dressed all in white with a big white cowboy hat.
They made several trips to Nashville for guest appearances. One of their last performances was in Montana, where they appeared in a concert that also featured Mark Chesnutt and the old Auctioneer himself, Leroy Van Dyke.
Charlie posed for a photo holding a rare Martin DVM Veteran's Model commemorative guitar. Fewer than 600 of these fine Martins were made by the C. F. Martin & Co. of Nazareth, PA. Charlie's veteran's heart beat with pride as he admired this magnificent instrument honoring the service and sacrifices of our millions of veterans. He beamed with pleasure as he strummed the fine resonant guitar and hummed a few old country tunes in the Key of E.
A Billboard magazine Country Music Supplements in 1966 and 1967 lists The Chisholm Brothers in Canadian Country Artists Directory and were on the Banff record label.
In one interview, Charlie indicated of all the things he had done in life, what made him most proud was the work he was able to do for charities. The Chisholm Brothers entertained at fund raising events for charity with their time and talent. One such event was an event called "Country Music For A Good Cause." It was on May 6 1984. The Chisholm Brothers were part of a group of local country music acts putting on a benefit concert for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. It was held at the Lakeview Ballroom in Foxborough, MA. The Massachusetts Country Music Association was sponsoring the show. Among the other acts that would join the Chisholm Brothers were the John Penny Band, Dick Nephew and Texas, John Lincoln Wright and the Sour Mash Boys, Diane Lincoln and others.
Back in 1972, the daughter of one of New England's outstanding performers (Jerry Devine) was critically injured in an auto accident. The local country entertainers banded together to help Jerry's family. Bob Riley along with the cooperation of the Club Dalton in Holbrook, mA and Local No. 138 of American Federation of Musicians put on a large show on June 1, 1972. On the show were The Chisholm Brothers, JOhnny Penny and Belia Tina Welsh, Doug Terry, Miss Edna Jean, Don Edwards, Fred Cook, Tommy Richards and many local musicians and sidemen from the area all volunteered their time and talents.
In September of 1981, a Western Jamboree was to be held to benefit the "Ace of Clubs", an educational, cultural, social and charitable organization that was founded by Rose Fizgerald Kennedy and Miriam Finnegan in 1911. Mrs. Kennedy stated in the article, "I was always interested in discussing worldwide history and meaningful current events." There was to be an open pit barbecue prepared by New England's "Famous Leightons" and would include ribs, chicken, crab, chili and other side dishes. The Chisholm Brothers and The Country Squires were to take care of the music for the event. Proceeds were to go directly to the support of the many programs sustained by the Guild.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, The Chisholm Brothers were very popular around the New England area and even in Canada.
The brothers had the privilege to play with and back some of the major country stars of that era including Farong Young and Ernest Tubb.
Remembering Those Who Served
On Veterans Day in November 2008, thousands lined the streets for the Tri-Town Veterans Day parade that was organized by the Veterans Councils of East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater and Bridgewater.
Some of the World War II veterans from Bridgewater were scheduled to ride in a wagon pulled by a truck. But after only going a couple hundred yards, there was a flat tire. So, what did the vets do? They all got out and walked the entire route - showing folks their get it done spirit.
In 2018, the city of Bridgewater, Massachusetts saw the creation of the "Hometown Heroes" project. Utility poles along Bedford Street were adorned with 24x48 banners with faces of veterans from World War II to the current era.
The Master of Ceremonies for the event was a Korean War Veteran and member of the Bridgewater Veterans Council - Charlie Chisholm. He thought the parade was a great success, with the weather cooperating that resulted in a large and enthusiastic turnout. Charlie felt it was important to see Veterans Day widely observed.
A proclomation was read by Bridgewater Selectmen Chairman Herb Lemon: "In our land of plenty, we often forget those who've fought for our liberty, freedom and democracy."
Several years later, Charlie would once again be a force in remembering fellow veterans.
The idea was to have banners around town featuring veterans with Bridgewater ties who served or are serving in all branches of the U. S. armed forces. The project was initiated by a committee made up of members of the Historical Commission, veterans and Bridgewater residents.
Corlyn Voorhees wrote in The Enterprise that David Moore who was president of the Historical Commission had seen what other towns had done. He noted "You have names everywhere, but we wanted to personalize that name. We wanted to show that there was a real person."
Their initial goal was to get about 50 banners up by Veteran's Day 2018; they would be displayed until Thanksgiving. Then each year they would be hung again starting Memorial Day and displayed through July 4.
The Chisholm Brothers, John and Charlie, were one of the first banners to go up.
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