Mount Sequoyah reels in some Trout music for Aug. 5 party

Mount Sequoyah reels in some Trout music for Aug. 5 party

Celebrating its centennial, Mount Sequoyah Center couldn’t find a band that had been around 100 years, jokes Ezra Idlet. But Trout Fishing in America was close.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. Idlet and his musical partner Keith Grimwood have only been playing together for 44 years — from Houston to Northwest Arkansas and throughout almost all of the 50 states plus Canada and across families that have expanded from three children — two for Idlet, one for Grimwood — to three grandchildren — one for Idlet and two for Grimwood.

Now, as they have since they were busking on the streets of Santa Cruz, Calif., to eat, Grimwood and Idlet sing about things they know. These days, that’s looking for the keys they’ve misplaced in the ignition versus the keys stolen by toddlers and how home turned into a “Safe House” during the pandemic.

They admit that some of the effects of covid-19 have lasted, too. One is that they’re playing closer to home every chance they get. Another is that they “would make the adult decision and not travel during ice and snow,” Idlet says. A third is no flying unless absolutely necessary. “I am so done with flying,” says Grimwood. In a radical departure from the norm, they even took time off to vacation in Hawaii when a fan booked them on Maui for a private party.

But what their forced covid hiatus taught the duo above everything else, they agree, is that they still want to play music, and they want to play it together. They were in Pennsylvania when covid hit in March 2020, came home to their separate houses in Northwest Arkansas and didn’t see each other for an entire month.

“That was the longest separation in 40-plus years,” Idlet said when their album “Safe House” came out in 2022.

“It wasn’t like a divorce, it was worse,” Grimwood added. “It was deeper than just the two of us; it was life itself, the essence of being. It was … jarring.”

It didn’t take long — 37 days, to be exact — before the two families — Grimwood and wife Beth, Idlet and wife Karen and their wrangler and “Girl Friday,” Susan Billimek — decided they’d be a pandemic “pod” so they could play music together.

“At the end of one month, we decided we could not live without being together, honestly,” says Grimwood.

Music is still at the heart of every day.

“When I wake up” — after digging himself out from a pile of cats — “I sit and make some coffee and start looking at music, listening to music, playing music,” Grimwood says. “The learning process interests me right now. I’m reading books about how to learn and how to focus. And I’ve been playing the violin — the fiddle — which is a good way to keep the brain working

“I think I’m more relaxed these days. I’m still wound a little tight,” — at which Idlet laughs — “but not so attached to every outcome.”

Idlet, who plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12 string guitar, electric banjo and electric bouzouki, has added a new instrument to his repertoire from the trip to Hawaii — the eight-string ukulele.

“Picture the big guy with the little instrument and the little guy with the big instrument,” says Grimwood, who predominantly plays bass. Idlet’s versatility “adds a lot of color. He starts pulling out all these different instruments, and we’re able to explore more soundscapes than ever before. We’ve even written some songs for ukulele — and resurrected one from ‘Big Round World.’

“I only have four strings to tune,” he adds. “He had 45 the other day.”

“Thank God for electronic tuners,” agrees Idlet with another laugh.

“We’ve learned the journey is more important than the arrival,” Idlet says seriously. “You’d better enjoy the journey.”

“If someone has never been to Mount Sequoyah, I want them to know that we are so much more than just a beautiful view overlooking the city of Fayetteville,” says Emily Gentry, Mount Sequoyah president and CEO. “We have the wonderful Cross Overlook, but we also have a 27 acre campus with outdoor art installations, historic buildings, and all kinds of fun programming and events. I encourage everyone to check us out and at least walk the grounds if they have not yet done so before!

“Other things that we have planned for 2023 include an October sock hop dance and tailgate celebration, and our 2023 Festival of Trees,” she adds. “These will both be fun ways for community members to come celebrate with us at Mount Sequoyah. [And] we will have a final night celebration called ‘Cheers to 100 Years’ to ring out the 100th year celebrations.”



Trout Fishing in America

WHEN — 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. Aug. 5

WHERE — 2 p.m. for kids inside Clapp Auditorium at Mount Sequoyah in Fayetteville; 7 p.m. for adults near the Cross Overlook

COST — $15-$25 includes access to the 100th anniversary carnival with games, activities, face painting and food trucks


Categories: Music