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Vernon Allred, left, sits with Donald Brady on the stage he built in Coleridge. Brady replaced his late grandfather’s deteriorating home with a place where he held monthly music events for years.  Photo by Katie Danielle

Local bluegrass legend passes

Donald Brady, 76, of Coleridge passed away on Sunday, Aug. 28. From 2005 through 2019 (with a hiatus in 2016 due to health reasons), he and his wife hosted a monthly music event on their rural property. 


Donald and Evon invited folks to gather (from April through October, weather permitting) on the last Saturday of the month for food, fellowship and bluegrass music. The site of the music festival was where Donald's grandpa's house stood.


"It got termites real bad and we had to tear it down. The place looked naked,” Donald once explained.


So he constructed a new building with the help of neighbors. A music lover, he devised a plan to provide monthly musical entertainment. He extended the porch, removed center posts, added florescent lighting, and converted it into a stage.


Donald praised others for their help, particularly Vernon Allred and his son, Derrick, of Cedar Falls.


"I just thought it was something good to do. I enjoy music," Donald stated.


He contacted local bands and musicians to entertain. The Allreds provided and monitored a sound system and performed. 


Prior to each show, the Bradys offered a meal. Under a nearby shed, the pair would serve hot dogs and fried bologna while attendees would bring various covered dishes. After the meal, the pickers would take to the porch to perform as the listeners gathered under trees in their lawn chairs. Donald would survey the evening from his golf cart. There was never an admission fee, just a 50/50 drawing to help cover expenses.


Former Nashville banjoist and Coleridge native, Stan Brown, is grateful for his labors. “Donald opened his place up once a month for musicians, friends and neighbors to gather, to share a meal and pick together. (It was) a wonderful social gathering everyone looked forward to each month.”


Vernon Allred, local musician who assisted Brady with stage construction, shared, “Donald is my cousin. His grandma and my grandma were sisters. I didn’t really know him. We met at a flea market in Ramseur.”


The idea for a music venue was discussed so the men rolled up their sleeves and went to work, and made it a reality in 2005. When Allred lost his oldest child in 2006, Brady added a Matthew Allred Memorial Concert the following year to his schedule. The event ran for six or seven years.


Allred recalled, “We’d take up money we made and give to charities. Donald would get donations. One year we gave to the MS organization, one year to Jim’s Kids, another year to the building fund at White’s Memorial (Baptist Church).” 


Vernon and Derrick along with other local musicians played for Donald Brady one last time at his funeral. One of the tunes played — “Ole Slew Foot” — was the music lover’s favorite. Derrick ended the song with personalized lyrics, “some folks say he looked a lot like Donald Brady.”