bill monroe

Dr. Ralph Stanley has always maintained that his music was “just mountain music.”  A few weeks ago, I posted a video of me playing Wildwood Flower on Facebook;  it has followed me through my childhood and is a joy to play.  But what was most interesting was when one of my friends from outside the United States asked if “this is Country Music?”  It stopped me cold.  Then, I linked her up with a bunch of artists showing the difference between what I was playing, and what the Nashville hierarchy determines country music to be. READ MORE »


Bill Monroe and the Mandolin

January 14, 2011 bill monroe

Bill Monroe is the King of Bluegrass, and the premier Bluegrass mandolinist. No evidence exists to support claims that Monroe ever played fiddle. His use of a Gibson Lloyd Loar starting in 1943 helped him popularize and develop Bluegrass music.

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Did Bill Monroe Write “Uncle Pen?”

January 10, 2011 beanblossom

If  you drop the names of Bluegrass players and singers in a group of typical Bluegrass fans, it is going to set off an immediate debate over when, what festival, and which band line up cut a particular track or performed a piece live.  The reality is Bluegrass bands shift over time, and have since […]

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Mandolins in the Bluegrass Family

November 30, 2010 bluegrass music

The rather small, eight stringed mandolin with its fairly  poor stage projection seems an unlikely source of  modern Bluegrass music. Yet this magical instrument has become one of the best markers of Bluegrass. While Bluegrass is largely an American form of music, it is also derived from Irish and Scottish music.  In the early portion […]

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The “Mysterious” Mandolin

November 17, 2010 bluegrass columnist

Bluegrass is a celebration of challenging vocals and a wide variety of instruments. Perhaps the most important of those instruments is the mandolin. Few bluegrass musicians, and probably even fewer non professional players would tell you that Bill Monroe was not their inspiration to give the instrument a try. To some people, the small, eight-stringed […]

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