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Starline Rhythm Boys celebrate 20th in Lincoln

Most of us know of The Starline Rhythm Boys — heck, most of us have probably stomped around to their vintage country, honky-tonk and rockabilly music. Well this Saturday, March 10, the three-member band is celebrating 20 years of playing together at the Burnham Music Series in Lincoln.
It all started back in 1962 when Billy Bratcher (upright bassist) was born.
“I would fall asleep hearing him downstairs listening to Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash on the eight-track,” the Bennington native recalled. “And Waylon Jennings. He was into those guys, heavy.”
Bratcher encountered live rockabilly music as an underage patron in a Hoosick Falls, N.Y., nightclub, where a performer named Jack Smith took his breath away. “The visual was wild. He wore sharp duds and white bucks,” Bratcher remembered. “He took the microphone on top of the bar and belted out this rockabilly music.”
In his youth, Bratcher was recruited by a locally well known band called Visible Twitch, who took him to Albany and bought him his first bass. In 1987, Bratcher decided to move to Burlington because it was “a more happening place.” Soon after his arrival, he heard Danny Coane (guitar/banjo) play at Nectars.
“A vibrant… blistering… wild man… behind the microphone was belting out this Jerry Lee Lewis song,” Bratcher said. “I was so excited. I was with my girl and I said: ‘One of these days I’m going to play in a band with someone like him, or him.’”
But before they got together, Bratcher first organized a band called Buck and the Black Cats, which released an album in 1996 that featured a rough-handed commercial fisherman named Big Al Lemery on guitar. Soon thereafter Texas bandleader Wayne Hancock worked a show with the Cats, and decided to take Bratcher on the road with them.
It was a chance for Bratcher to tour nationally and work with the top names in the business. But full-time road work didn’t jibe with Bratcher’s desire to start a family, so after a year he returned to Burlington and took a day job.
One night in 1998 Bratcher invited Coane and Lemery to come over and play some tunes.
“We just started doing some songs… some Haggard tunes, whatever,” Coane remembered, “and it was like, wow this sounds awesome. This is really happening.”
The enthusiasm was mutual among the three, and after some rehearsals Bratcher approached Red Square, a nightspot in Burlington. Management gave them a listen, and the Starline Rhythm Boys have been packing them in there (and at other venues around the state) on a regular basis ever since.
The Starline Rhythm Boys have become known for their superb originals, as well as great covers of both classic and obscure numbers. They are a unique original band with outstanding, real-deal sound, style, energy, stage presence and appearance. 
The trio has released seven recordings, three of which won “#1 Album of the Year” (2002, 2007 and 2009) on the Freeform American Roots (FAR) chart based in Austin, Texas. They have been labeled “Vermont’s House Band” by Vermont Magazine and won Seven Days newspaper’s  2015 “Daysie” award as “Best Americana Artist/Group.”  The list of accolades goes on… Let’s just leave it at awesome — these guys are awesome.
Come celebrate two decades of great music on March 10 at Burnham Hall, 52 River Road, in Lincoln. Doors open at 7 p.m. The show begins at 7:30. $10 for adults, teens and kids free. Refreshments will be available.  For more information, call (802) 388-6863.

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