The Cumberland Post

The Cumberland Post
My Backyard, Six Miles from the Cumberland River

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Bluegrass Post With a Little Side of EP

I've enjoyed bluegrass music for most of my life. I can remember sitting on the floor in our living room listening to the Grand Ole Opry on the radio in the late '40s before Dad bought a TV. Even then I liked the bright tinkling banjo, the dobro, the fiddle, and the guitar flat picking.

Commemorative Plaque Outside the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN

My interest in this music increased when Joyce bought me a Silvertone in the '60s. On the surface, it appears simple, easy to play. But it's not. I've never gone beyond the three basic chords, but I still love bluegrass to this day. And that means that I enjoy the music of Bill Monroe, sometimes referred to as the "Father of Bluegrass." I'm never quite sure what to make of all those "Father of This" and "Father of That" claims, but the genre did acquire its name from his group, the Bluegrass Boys.

I think I've mentioned before on this blog, that I've lived on a dead end road in southern Sumner County since 1973 and that Monroe had a farm at the end of our road until his death in 1996. He was a good neighbor, always waved when we passed him on the road, and once when we had a deep snow, he came along on his tractor and offered to plow off our driveway and several others who live along our stretch. On our trip to England in '87, we were eating lunch in a Pub and struck up a conversation with our waiter who was a Bluegrass Bill Monroe fanatic. When we told him Monroe was our neighbor, I don't think he believed us.

As the plaque above indicates, besides Monroe with his mandolin and vocals, the members of the original group included Chubby Wise on fiddle, Howard Watts on bass, Lester Flatt, vocals and guitar, and Earl Scruggs on the five string banjo. This is the original group with Monroe's famous waltz "Blue Moon of Kentucky."
The story of how a Rock and Roll version of the song in 4/4 time became the "B" side of Elvis' first Sun Records single is on Wiki. Wiki says Monroe liked Presley's version and gave it his blessing.

Lester and Earl left Monroe's Bluegrass Boys in 1948 to form their own bluegrass group. One important, make that very important, thing they did was to add Uncle Josh and his dobro. Here's that old raunchy classic "Salty Dog." Look for Josh's fantastic break.
Sometimes you just feel like an old "Salty Dog." Ain't that the ever lovin' Bluegrass truth?

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. While bluegrass isn't a favorite genre of mine, I do appreciate it. And I certainly loves me some dobro!

    The file photos in the Elvis vid were rather shocking. It's been more than a while since I've seen pics of the young Elvis... so long, in fact, that I'd forgotten just how extraordinary he was for his time.