Thursday, April 12, 2018

Blue Grass Boy Belt Buckles

 I got the idea of the Blue Grass Boy Belt Buckle from Mr. Grant Turner one day when he told me that Ernest Tubb had some belt buckles made for band members and when they had spent a certain number of months or traveled a certain number of miles they were given a buckle, Mr. Grant said that Ernest called it the Fraternity of Troubadours. So I set about doing the planning... I had visited a belt buckle convention in Dallas one year and saw the exquisite work of Award Design Metals from Nobel Ok. I got the particulars and saw it was going to be expensive... I came up with the following plan. There were 6 "sets"of a Solid Silver a Gold Silver Plated, and a Solid Brass Buckle each of these were numbered in sequence 3 #1, 3 #2, and so on as I had planned to give a set to each of the companies that I had approached for monetary help with the project. I had contacted MCA Records, The Grand Ole Opry, Blue Grass Unlimited, Pickin Magazine, Gibson Guitars and Martins Guitars. Emory Gordy Jr called and told me that MCA had a policy that they didn't put out any money on an artist unless it was directly related to a release... Roger Siminoff from Pickin Magazine called and said that they would put in the money but they wanted control of the presentation, they had done a couple of things on Nashville Now by that point and I said thank you, but no thank you. I had been doing these Birthday Celebrations since 82 and I saw no need from anyone from the outside to try and take over. Mike Longworth called from Martin and said that he personally would love to help but Chris Martin would never put any money into a project that had a Gibson Mandolin on the front of it...again I said thanks. Charlie Deerngton at Gibson was angry with me due to the things I had told him about his New Gibson Granada prototype and he never passed the information on to Henry. Bud Wendell called from the Opry and said where do I send a check as did Pete Kuykendall of Blue Grass Unlimited...I had asked for $1500.00 from each and here I had $3000.00 of a project that was going to cost much more... I was determined to make sure the project went forward so I sold an original Style 7, 5 string top tension banjo to cover the remaining cost. (Not many people know this) but I was determined to see the project happen. 

I think I did #7 for Grant Turner(Long time Opry announcer), the guy who gave me the initial buckle idea, The next numbers were the Blue Grass Boys, Tater Tate #8, Blake Williams #9, Tom Ewing # 10,,,I didn't know Mike Feagan has started playing fiddle so I had Billy Joe Foster's as #11, Then I had buckle #12 engraved for Ralph Emery and gave it to Bill so he could make Ralph an honorary Blue Grass Boy, the TV show was running late and we didn't get to do this on the air, but I got with Bill after the show and he presented it to Ralph. I got Mike #119 a couple of weeks later... 

Beginning with buckle #25 I took the donations and birthday wishes in the order that they arrived and engraved them accordingly. Emory Gordy Jr. was 25. Sonny Osborne 26, Del McCoury 27 and so on. The last response I received before the presentation was by Rual Yarbough and he received buckle # 107. After that I found many additional Blue Grass Boys so buckles were given to them but in no particular order from that point on.

Frank Buchanan started a story that the numbers had meaning of the number of Blue Grass Boy they were, but it wasn't based on fact, he kept saying that he was Blue Grass Boy # 37, but his birthday wish and donation for Bill's gift was the 12th that I received. I had sent the first week in July to all the former band members that I had addresses for, telling about the project and asking for birthday wishes and donations if they could make one, the numbers were assigned by the order of their response.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ongoing Price list of Gibson Banjos and 60's Vega.....

RB 18   200.00 with Gibson mute 225.00
RB 12  150.00 with Gibson mute 175.00
RB 7  110.00
RB 75  75.00
RB 11   55.00
RB 1    40.00
RB 00   30.00

TB 00 30.00
new style 7  110.00 with wrist mute 125.00
RB 75  75.00
RB 11   55.00
GB 1 60.00
Hard case silk lining (522)  24.00
Hard case felt lining (521) 14.50 
soft case (121)  5.50
(some pages missing)

May 20, 1941
RB 150  175.00
RB 100   125.00
soft case 12.00  (120)
hard case 37.50  (511)

1948 (No banjo's listed)

August 1 1949
No banjo's or mandolins listed

March 7 1952  P-13
RB 100  132.00
RB 150   182.00
121 Challenge Case 12.00
521 Faultess Flannel  37.50
A 40   82.00
A 50   97.50
EM150  160.00
101 Case   8.50
362. Case 29.50
F 12  290.00
F5 415.00
371 plush faultless  32.50
440 plush oblong  42.50

July 10 1954
RB 100  150.00
RB 150   200.00
RB 250   250.00
121 case  12.75
521 Flannel 37.50
522 Plush   42.50

A 40      89.50
A 50      107.50
EM 150  165.00
101             8.50
362  Flannel 29.50
Electric Florentine 179.50
F 12        305.00
F 5           435.00
371 plush    32.50
440  plush oblong  42.50

November 1956
RB 250  330.00
RB 150   270.00
RB 100   198.00
soft case   15.00
hard case  55.00
photos of Joe Maphis and Earl Scruggs

July 15, 1957
RB 250  295.00
RB 150  245.00
RB 100  185.00
121 12.75
521  42.00
522  46.50

March 1958
RB 100   195.00
RB 150   260.00
RB 250   310.00
121 case 13.75
521    44.00
522    48.75
ZC-22 zipper cover   26.00

RB 250   295.00
RB 150   245.00
RB 100   185.00
Flannel 42.00
Plush 46.50
cover 26.00

May 1960
RB 250  315.00
RB 100  200.00
scruggs tuners 50.00
hard case 40.50
soft case 13.50
3 ply maple rim in description

May 1961
RB 100 225.00
RB 250  345.00   two tuners 50.00
RB 170.00  179.50
523  42.00
121   15.00
zipper cover 30.00

Oct 15, 1962
RB 100  225.00
RB 250  345.00
RB 170  179.50
RB 175  179.50   LN
RB 180  295.00   LN
Soft case  14.50
Plush Case  42.00
Two tuners 50.00

June 22, 1965
No information available

1966 (Green)
RB 800      845.00
RB 500      550.00
RB 250      390.00
RB 100      265.00
RB 170      205.00
RB 175      205.00
RB 180      337.00
Soft Case 16.00
Hard Case 69.00

Sept 1967
800--- 895.00 case included
scase-- durabilt 15.00
hcase--faultness plush 55.00
set of two tuners attached 55.00

March 1 1970
All American 2600.00 (tenor 2500.00)
Florentine      2600.00
RB 800          1065.00 case included  Opt finishes no up charge
RB500             735.00    Opt finishes no up charge
RB 250            550.00     
RB 100             350.00
RB 170             285.00 
RB 175             290.00 Long neck
soft case            15.00
Hard Case 523  70.00

Nov 22, 1971
RB 100  450.00
RB 250  675.00
RB 800 1035.00
RB 170  330.00
RB 175  350.00
soft case  16.00

October 15, 1972
All American     2600.00
Florentine         2600.00
RB 800             1195.00     
RB 250               730.00
RB 100               485.00
RB 170               365.00
RB 175               385.00
soft case              15.00          
hard case 509      85.00

June 1 1973
pb 800 1230  RB's not shown in page I had access too
pb 250  740
pb 100   500
hcase  89.00
scase  19.00
170  380
175  400

January 1 1975
All American 3999.00
Florentine      3999.00
800 1499.00 
250  899.00
350  1079.00
100   599.00
optional finish 50.00 up charge cherry sunburst was standard
optional inlay  50.00 up charge wreath was standard
no prices Roy Clark on cover

May 15, 1978
All American  3999.00
Florentine      3999.00
RB 800          1579.00  optional finishes 95.00 optional inlay 95 cherry sunburst wreath standard
RB 250           999.00
RB 100           679.00
case 105.00

1980 copywrite
All American
RB 800
RB 250
no prices listed

April 1 1981
All American  5649.00 B
Florentine      5649.00 B
RB 800          2199.00  CSB, SSB, AG, NAT, VB, SB.  No upcharge mentioned.
RB 250          1249.00
RB 100   not mentioned
623 case 125.00

60's Vega Prices 

April 1961 Brownish Orange Brochure
Ranger 169.00
Wonder 195.00
Professional 290.00
soft case 12.75
perfection case flannel lined 42.00
perfection case plush lined 48.00
(First bell flanges shown on Scruggs only)
Earl Scruggs now uses a new type Vega Banjo. Design after Mr Scruggs on ideas of construction and tone. It is the perfect banjo for C&W musical performances with brilliant tone and distinctive stage appearance.  Different than any other banjo.
Features a new slim action neck. New bracket ring around rim and new resonator flanges. Flat head as always preferred by Scruggs.  Pearl position inlays, ebony fingerboard, 3 piece neck, resonator sunburst finish on back, burgundy pearl sides.  All metal parts polished nickel plated.  Plastic head is moisture proof and stays tight for tone.
SR5   345.00
ST same equipped with 2 Scruggs tuners   390.00
plush case 50.00
tuners extra 45.00
Deluxe Model: A special gold stage presentation model with same basic construction but features a fancy white peghead engraved and colored.  White resonator elaborately engraved and colored on side and back. Engraved flanges and tension hoop.  All parts are heavily gold plated.  Special order basis  only.
SDL Scruggs Deluxe 2 tuners  880.00
case 50.00

Nov 1 1967(Red Brochure)
Ranger  248.00
Wonder 295.00
Pro II 460.00
Earl Scruggs Mark II 512.00  Gold 699.00
Scruggs Tuners 45  Scruggs Keith Tuners 80.00
Sonny Osborne 560.00

October 1 1969 (Blue Brochure)
Ranger  290.00
Wonder  345.00
New scroll peghead shown
Pro II  545.00
Pro II Custom Gold  745.00
Pro II Special Gold with engraved flanges and armrest
Keith Scruggs tuners installed 80.00
VIP  556.00
Custom Gold Plated 756.00
Special Gold and engraved Flanges and Arm Rest 812.00
Keith Tuners 80.00
Carved heel 99.00
Plush Case 68.00
Earl Scruggs Mark II    605.00 
Scruggs Soloist  735.00
Custom Gold Plating 200.00
Engraved Flanges and Tailpiece 56.00
Carved Heel 99.00
Custom Built (Special Order)
Sonny Osborne  720.00 Custom Built (Special Order)

Optional equipment
Scruggs Vega Tuners available 45.00 (Ranger and Wonder Models only)
Geared 5th peg 24.00
5th string sliding capo 7.25

Gibson Greg Rich Era information

First Earl Scruggs Model with original style peghead, inlay and correct resonator color  1143 April 20, 1988
First RB 3 June 28th 1988
First Flat Iron (FA Kulish ring used) RB 250  June 27, 2988
Use of first Sullivan Ring due to Kulish porosity problem.  88-1  Dec 20, 1988 (RB 250)
First Wreath and Reno inlay pattern on style 3.  Oct 6, 1988 for Bill Sullivan
First Wreath and Reno inlay offered as custom inlays $140.00 up charge Jan 1989 debut at NAMM
First style 3 without pumpkin color.Feb 89
First RB 4 4-9002-1 February 22 1990  tr k1009 (7 prototypes Perkins/Sullivan)
First RB 4 regular line 4-9003-1 March 12, 1990  
First RB 1  1-9110-1 October 5, 1990
First Earl Scruggs Golden Deluxe 9109-001 September 16,1991 Owensboro Show tr#2367
First Earl Scruggs 49 Classic September 23, 1991
Earl Scruggs Model 1985 January 17 1992 last signed label. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

David Deese's Musical Career

                                                                                       (This was provided at his services in March 2011)
            I was born on July 9th, 1941 near Salisbury, N.C. I was married to my wife Barbara in June of 1961.  We have one Daughter, Connie who graduated from ECU and is now married.
            My main influences wee a banjo picking grandfather (Burl D. Deese) and a guitar picking Dad. (C.D. “Tom” Deese)  I also played clarinet in the school band.
I began playing guitar on stage when I was 12 years old and started on banjo when I was 15 years old.  I learned a number of chords and some finger work from a banjo picker whose name was Howard Kizziah.  I started doing radio work 4 days later.  During the next four years I entered every fiddlers convention within a hundred miles.  I won first place at least once at each one.  While still a teenager I began playing on television and radio with Dad in Spartanburg, S.C.; Albemarle and Mt.Airy, N.C. We were doing show at such places as the Old Dominion Barn dance in Richmond, Virginia, where I met such artist as Bill Monroe, Don Reno & Red Smiley, Louvin Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Stonewall Jackson, and Chief Powhatan---several of which I would work with or record with later.  At the Old Dominion, Dad and I did not use a band--- it was just the two of us.  We went over quite well with the audience. 
            On Thursday, December 29th, 1960 in Charlotte N.C., Jim Buchanan and I were introduced to each other by Arthur Smith.  About an hour later the two of us were hired by Arthur as a fiddle-banjo-singing duet.  On Monday, January 9, 1961 we began to do five one hour early morning TV shows on a daily basis.  We also did a half hour
Thursday night show and five minute daily radio shows.  Road shows were played on Friday and Saturday and took us all over the two Carolina’s and occasionally into Georgia and Virginia.  Arthur had a very nice recording studio, so we recorded for Arthur and we were staff musicians for anyone recording there if they didn’t have their own musicians.  I was with Arthur for nineteen months.  During that time I and all other band members switched off to play other instruments.  I played banjo, guitar, upright bass, electric bass, and bass guitar (has six strings---much heavier gauge guitar strings, but not as heavy as electric bass strings).  Most people don’t know such and instrument exists. A lot of people call and electric a bass guitar, but a bass guitar is all together a different animal.  I even did a little snare drum work while with Arthur.
            In early July 1962, I headed for Nashville looking for a banjo picking job with no prior prospects.  I arrived on a Saturday and hung around back stage door of the Ryman.  Soon Josh Graves arrived for his show with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.  I knew him through Ray Atkins.  In our conversation he learned that I was looking for a job.  He told me to meet him the next day at noon at the Crystal Restaurant/Donut Shop.  He arranged a meeting for me with Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper at their home.  The four of us picked for a while.  Wilma Lee and Stoney told me they could use me.  I was to work a notice with Arthur and come back in a few weeks with no agreement made as to the exact date I would return.
            When I returned in two weeks, I was told by Wilma Lee’s sister, Jerrie, that Wilma Lee and Stoney were in Missouri for four days.  I had left most of my money in N.C. with my wife who was enrolling in college in Salisbury, N.C.  So here I am, four hundred  miles from home, nearly broke, no place to stay, and my new job at least a week away.  Since it was Saturday night I headed back to the Opry hoping to run into Josh again.  It turned out that he was out of town, too.  I hung around the back door of the Opry looking for a familiar face.  I didn’t see one, but God knew I was in a tight spot so he sent a man who knew MY face.  Frank Buchanan was the current guitar picker and lead singer for Bill Monroe.  Frank had seen me on the Arthur Smith Show from his home in Marion, N.C.  When Frank found out my situation, he suggested I talk to Bill because his banjo picker, Tony Ellis, had just quit.   I went into the Opry and talked with Bill.  We made arrangements to meet the next morning in the Clarkston Hotel Coffee Shop.  When we met the next morning Bill took me over to WSM where he had me to play several tunes while he read his mail.  He told me they would be leaving Limbaugh’s at 1:00 am that night.  I was to be there with dress pants, white shirt, tie and white hat for a couple of days in Illinois.  Those days we traveled in and Old Oldsmobile station wagon with over 200 thousand miles on it.  We traveled with a five piece band, instruments including an upright bass, clothes and two Pekinese dogs.  There were no fast food places, very few truck stops, very few interstate highways, and motels were out of the question due to the cost and lean times.  Rock & Roll was killing country music as well as bluegrass.  We were doing good just to have work.  Pay was not so great.  At the time the Opry acts were  required to work the Opry at least 26 weeks out of the year.  This meant you need to be there at least every other weekend.  This brought about a lot of extra mileage.
            While working with Bill I boarded at Mom  Upchurch’s home along with eight other Opry musicians.  Some of these were Frank Buchanan, Shorty Lavender, Buddy Spicher, and Benny Williams.  I roomed with Frank.
            In 1964 I was living back in Salisbury, N.C. and working as a prison guard for the N.C. Prison System.  My wife was a public school teacher, so we were both set with the state retirement system.  I had the fullest intentions of working for the state for twenty or thirty years and retiring a young man.  The second week of November, 1964 Carlton Haney called to say that Don Reno and Red Smiley, a mainstay in bluegrass music, was splitting up.  He also said that Red wanted me for his banjo picker.  At first I said no because I felt hey would be back together again in two or three weeks.  Carlton ask me to sleep on it and he would call back the next day.  I decided to go up to Roanoke, Virginia to talk to Red in person.  When Barbara and I arrived in Roanoke on Saturday, we found that the band was out of town until Sunday.  We took a room for the night at a motel on the hill above where the band members lived.  We went to see Red on Sunday about lunchtime.  He listened to me play, and assured me that he and Don would not be reuniting.  In fact he said that Don was moving away and forming his own band.  I stressed that my style of picking was on thing like Don Reno’s, but Red said he wanted to create his own style and not be a copy of “Reno and Smiley“.  We discussed what I would be doing and salary..  We shook hands on the deal and I went back to North Carolina to work a two week notice.  I moved to Roanoke on Sunday Nov. 29th 1964 and began work on Monday, Nov. 30 1964 with Red Smiley and the Bluegrass Cut-Ups on WDBJ-TV’S TOP OF THE MORNING show.  Don left on November 25th 1964 to start his own band.  Mack Magaha left to join Porter Wagoner.  The new band consisted of Red Smiley, John Palmer, Gene Burroughs, Bobby Lester and myself.  We did an early morning TV show every weekday in Roanoke and a Saturday evening show in Harrisonburg, Virginia on WSVA-TV.  We would go to Harrisonburg every other week to tape one show and do one live.  We would come back to Verona, VA. To play for a dance.  We worked that dance every Saturday night that we were not on the road.
            During the Red Smiley days, we worked a lot of coliseum package shows.  At these package shows I backed such artist as Lefty Frizell, Minnie Pearl, Jean Shepherd, Chief Powhatan, Benny Martin, Stonewall Jackson, Barbara Allen, Red Rector, Mac Wiseman, Bill Monroe, Clyde Moody, Jim Eanes, Jeff Simmons, Mother Maybelle & the Carter Family, Hylo Brown and Carl Story.  One weekend in April, 1966, Red became ill just before a show at the Greensboro Coliseum.  We had to admit him to the hospital.  Don’s new band and Red’s new band joined forces since both groups were short some of their members.  I picked guitar---Red’s D-45 Martin.  From the records I kept during my
Arthur Smith days, it looks like I worked about every town in North and South Carolina.  I had picked all around Charlotte, but had never picked the Charlotte Coliseum.  The first Saturday night I was with Red we picked at the Charlotte Coliseum with Don Reno’s new band, Lefty Frizell, Minnie Pearl, Ray Price, Dottie West and Hank Snow.
            Friday, January 22, 1965, we started a new weekly TV show at WOAY-TV in Oak Hill, WVA.  We did four shows at a time---We did one live and taped three.  This way we only had to go to Oak Hill one time each month.
            January 27,th 1965 we recorded “Grandpa Played the Fiddle,” “Swinging a Nine Pound Hammer,” and four other tunes, but none of these were ever released.  George Winn joined us on mandolin for those cuts.
            February 17, 1965 we started taping shows for WLAC-TV in Nashville, Tennessee.  We would tape 25 numbers and they would put them into a bluegrass show that they had going at that time.  It may have been on a program with the Boys from Shilo.  I remember we did a few shows live in Nashville.
            May 19, 1965 we recorded five more songs but these were never released Due to a disagreement, the master of these five tunes were destroyed, that that’s another story.
            Thursday, August 12, 1965 marked the first change in Red Smiley’s Bluegrass Cut-Ups.  Bobby Lester left the show on this date which left us without a fiddle player for a couple of days.  Bonny Beverly started on fiddle for us the following Monday morning which was August 16, 1965.
            I was on the very first Bluegrass Festival in Fincastle, Virginia which was held on September 3 & 4, 1965.  This festival was the turning point for Bluegrass Music.  It started an activity that has become a multi-million dollar business.
            Tuesday, October 26th 1965 Tater Tate joined the Bluegrass Cut-Up’s on Fiddle.  Saturday and Sunday, January 22 and 23, 1966 we recorded two albums at Wayne Raney’s Studio in Concord, Arkansas.  One album was a Red Smiley gospel album and the other was a Tater Tate fiddle album.
May 19, 1966 we started a nightly 15 minute radio show for WWVA, Wheeling West Virginia.  We taped them at our studio in Hollins, Virginia.  We would tape a week’s worth at one time.
            June 4, 1966 we became members of the Wheeling Jamboree, performing every three weeks.  We rotated with Mac Wiseman, Charlie Moore and Bill Napier.
            Wednesday, July 6, 1966 was my last show with Red and the Cut-Ups.  “Uncle Sam” felt he need me in the army more than Red did.  I spent three years in the  Army.  One year of that was spent in Vietnam and the last 14 months was spent in Richmond, Virginia at eh Induction Station as a clerk typist.  I left the Army with a rank of Specialist 5.
            While in Richmond I recorded an album with Chief Powhatan.  It was later released on the Old  Homestead label.  Shortly after moving to Richmond I became the banjo picker for George Winn and his band.  Another banjo picker friend, Fred Duff was picking for Ray Lumpkin.  Both bands were playing clubs in and around Richmond nearly every night.  George and his band landed a USO tour that included Vietnam.  I had just returned from spending a  year there and had no intentions of going back, even to protected areas.  Fred had not been anywhere like that and said he’d like to go---so, with the consent of the band leaders , he and I traded banjo picking jobs for the duration of the tour.  After the tour, he was satisfied working with Georges’s band and I was happy with Ray’s band, so we never traded back.  I stayed with Ray, Bernie Wright and Danny Proctor until I got out the Army in July, 1969.
            In April my wife and I had a baby girl who is named after me.  My name is Clonnie David Deese, Jr.  In the military you are called by your first name and your middle initial which made me Clonnie D.  Our daughter’s name is Connie Dee.  She has been the light of both our lives.  When I left the military I was ready to come home.
            A few months before I left the military Red had retired and given up his television programs so we came home to North Carolina.  Upon returning to civilian life, I went back to being a machinist --- a trade I had been apprenticing off and on since right out of high school and between picking jobs.
            In November of 1971, I received a call from Bruce and Lee Jones.  They had just separated from Carl Story and needed a guitar picker.  I took the job.  They were working a lot of festivals at the time, mainly due to the popularity of the Troy festival owned by our fiddle player, Frank Hamilton.  The group also had a weekly TV show.  The band featured the Jones Brothers, Frank on the fiddle, Frankie Belcher on banjo and me on guitar.  Frankie and I also did a lot of twin banjo numbers for about two and one half years.  Frankie left to join Charlie Moore.  Carl Coble was hired to pick guitar and I switched over the banjo full time.  Labor Day 1975 Frank Hamilton and Carl Coble left the group.  Joe Smith was hired to pick guitar and David Johnson to play Fiddle.  Joe left in 1979 so Harold Huntley came on board to pick guitar.
            In 1983 or 84, we dropped back to a four member band, because at Hoboken, Georgia our fiddle player had a heart attack.  We got used to being just four-strong and never did hire another fiddler.
            In 1990 we hired a  young guitar picker that Harold had trained, Larry Greene.  On June 12, 1991, cancer took the life of Harold Huntley.  It was only fitting that Larry remain with us.  He was/is a fine guitar player and a fine young man in every way which is necessary to get along on the road.
            In 1992 I resigned from the Jones Brothers Band having completed twenty-one years with them.  My resignation was due to my needing a change of pace and not due to any conflicts within the group.  I wanted to form my own band and have done just that.
            In 1991 a dear friend of mine, Shannon Grayson --- banjo picker for “The Original WBT Briarhoppers” became extremely ill with Alzheimer’s Disease.  He asked me to fill in for him.  Although I was still with the Jones Brothers and was quietly forming my own band, I agreed to step into his slot for the “Briarhopper”.
            The Briarhoppers consist of Hank Warren on Fiddle, Don White on Bass, Arvil Hogan on mandolin, Roy Grant on guitar and I do the banjo work.  The band is altogether another story that could easily fill book of great thickness.
            I had for several years had a desire to form my own band.  In 1991 I head that Betty and J.T. Fisher had moved from Texas back to South Carolina, so I went to find them.  I had already been tracking down Larry Plyler, but hadn’t located him yet.  As it turned out I found Larry and the Fishers at about the same time.  J.T. had done a lot of band managing and booking when Betty had her own band back in the 70’s, so he was in my plans, too.  Betty, T.J. and I talked.  After I explained what I wanted to do, they decided they would enjoy that too.  A meeting was arranged at our home to get with Larry to see what kind of harmony we could come up with.  We felt we had something a little different and decided we should get going as a unit.  Glenn Brown and Ralph Keller were asked to join us to round out the “Betty Fisher-David Deese and Dixie Bluegrass”.
            Over the years I have recorded many, many albums.  During my years with the Jones Brothers we recorded over a dozen.  During the 70’s and 80’s I did a lot of free lance recording with a variety of artist; most notably with Mac Wiseman.  Our current group began our career together by recording two albums --- “Branching Out” and “I’m Just a Stranger Here”.  We feel that we have a little something for everyone.  We get along well and have a mutual respect for each other.  Our goal is to work about two bluegrass festivals each month hopefully for two days each.  We really don’t care t work more than two weekends per month because of other interest and family life.
            During the time I was with the Jones Brothers, I went back to college and got a degree in accounting and business administration.  In 1976 I formed my own accounting/bookkeeping business which I still operate.  I keep books and accounts for small businesses as well as individual of-the-street income tax returns.

            I am very active as a Mason, Scottish Rite and Shrine.  Barbara and I are also active in the Eastern Star.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Edd Mayfield "The Mystery Man" by Doug Hutchens

In the short history of bluegrass music many individuals have passed through the few major bands. During the late 40's and early 50's bands sporting a contract with a major recording company or privileged with a major radio and later TV exposure could be counted on the fingers of one hand.  Many of these individuals received their schooling or paid their dues to break into the music business with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.

      Monroe was the founding father of this new musical form.  He was heard each week on the Grand Ole Opry so the Blue Grass Boys was a natural choice for aspiring musicians.  After a short tenure these musicians would break out on their own and many are the established bluegrass bands of today.

     Living on the road has never been easy.  In the 50's there were no interstate highways.  Bands usually traveled in cars or station wagons loaded with all the gear, instruments, clothes, a PA set and all the band members.  Needless to say the life was hard and led to a constant turnover of musicians, but with this constant supply of new entertainers came a constant supply of energetic new ideas.  Each new man coming into a group would bring new blood into a musical form that had been defined less than ten years before.

      One individual who made lasting contributions to bluegrass music and unfortunately didn't live to reap the harvest of his contributions was Edd Mayfield.  In a recent conversation with Doug Green (A former Blue Grass Boy and now with Riders in the Sky) he called Edd "The Mystery Man".  Edd's time was limited but in his three short terms with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys he managed to record twenty songs before being stricken with acute leukemia.  His style of guitar playing and lead singing had been seldom-if ever-equaled.

     Thomas Edward Mayfield was born April 12, 1926 on a ranch near Dawn, Texas, some 30 miles southwest of Amarillo.  The Mayfields were a family who knew the meaning of the word work, they ranched 67 sections of grass (a section being 640 acres)

     Neppie (Short for Penelope) and W.F.Mayfield raised two girls and six boys, Libby Ruth, Mary Lorena, Ruben, Rufus, James, Herb Arlie (Smokey) and Thomas Edward.  From the time the kids were old enough to hold an instrument they had the opportunity and were encouraged to play music.  There mother played the guitar in a finger style and their father played the fiddle.  The Mayfield home was a constant source of musical entertainment.  The children learned a variety of break-downs, waltzes, hornpipes and other early country music.

     Herb recalls "I can remember Smokey sawing on Pa's old fiddle.  He was about five years old I think and was too small the hold the fiddle, so he would stand and prop it against the wall and his chest.  To this day he holds the fiddle between his hand and his elbow.

     Young Edd or Thomas as he was called until after high school, first learned to chord the mandolin.  When he was large enough to reach the neck he moved to the guitar.

     In the early 30's the Mayfield family met a young musician named Arnold Geiger who was to leave a lasting impression on the family's music. Arnold's father was a depot agent for the Santa Fe Railroad and had just moved to Dawn when the Mayfield family met him.  Herb remembers, "This boy was a musician, so we just invited him out to the house to play.  He was around 20 years old and made some runs on the guitar that we hadn't heard before.  That was before we heard Monroe or anyone else'..From that time young Edd took the many runs he had learned from Geiger and expanded on them.  Herb recalls "We moved to Dimmitt, Texas in 1932 and with nothing much happening except that the family got their first radio in 1934 and we were fortunate enough to get the Grand Ole Opry.  We heard Bill and Charlie Monroe and later the Blue Grass Boys and were really excited over what we heard."

     When they moved to Dimmitt, the Mayfields moved onto a two and one-half section farm where they raised dry land wheat and ran about a hundred head of Black Angus cattle.  During the summer the boys would spend time riding pastures, checking for sick cattle and mending fences.  "You leave the ranch house on horseback before daylight' Smokey recalls, "You'd ride all day and may not make it back to your camp by dark, so you'd ride to one of the line shacks, stay overnight then ride all the next day before you got back to your camp."  Winter time would find them hitching a team of mules, loading the wagon with cottonseed cake to feed the cattle.

     The Mayfield boys, like all eager young musicians, practiced every free moment.  Many times they would race to the house, dead tired from work in the fields, just to get a few extra minutes of playing before a meal or beginning the daily evening chores.

     The boys were also active in high school sports.  Edd was on the first team from Dimmitt to go to the Texas State Basketball Championship.  As the boy graduated high school they were inducted into service.

     Herb recalls, "During the second Word War, four of us were inducted into the service.  Two in the Pacific and two in Europe.  All the way through the War, Edd carried his guitar.  We all came through it OK, along with Edd's guitar."

      Soon after he got out of service, Edd began dating a young lady, Jo Laverne McLain, "The first song Edd sang for me was 'Footprints In The Snow', " Jody remembers,  "Edd always said his favorite songs were 'Footprints In The Snow' and 'Uncle Pen.'"

     Jody and Edd were married in 1948 and two years later became the parents of their first son , Freddy.
     While in service, Edd met Bill Myrick from Monroe, Louisiana.  He had booked some shows for Bill Monroe and was acquainted with Horace Logan at the Louisiana Hayride.  Bill Myrick asked the Mayfield Brothers to come down and arranged an audition for the saturday night show.  They played two weekends on the Louisiana Hayride then made a deal with KSEL radio in Lubbock, Texas, where they would work a live show each week.
Photo courtesy of Herb Mayfield

     At the time the band consisted of Herb on the mandolin, Bill Myrick on the guitar, Smokey playing the fiddle, and Edd on the other guitar. (There were very few if any five-string banjos in the area at the time.) They worked the KSEL Jamboree for about a year and during that time they first met Bill Monroe.  Bill Myrick arranged to book the Mayfield Brothers on several double-header shows with Bill Monroe.  Herb remembers the meeting, "We did the old song 'Keep On The Firing Line' on the show and Monroe came around the show and said that was the best rendition of that song he'd ever heard.  That gave us alot of enthusiasm and that's where we got acquainted with Monroe."  Not long after that meeting Edd contacted Monroe and inquired about a job.

     Recently I asked Bill about Edd Mayfield and the first time they met.  "I believe we were in Texas and him (Edd) and his two brothers Smokey and Herb and came by and they talk with us some.  I believe later on, that Edd may have stayed in touch with me and come up here to Bean Blossom for a while.  Birch was here and they had a group here.  I can't remember who was in the group but anyhow he hung on here til I needed him in the Blue Grass group.  Then he moved to Nashville, he moved his wife and two boys and lived out on the farm where we live."

     Joe Drumwright remembers Edd's audition.  "I was there when Edd tried out.  Bill called me up to the hotel and said I have a fellow up here and I'd like to try him out.  So I walked in and there that ole boy with that big Texas hat, and that big Gibson guitar and a thumbpick.  I thought what kind of turkey is this, until, I played about two tunes with him.  He was great.  You couldn't get him out of time and he played some of the best backing notes you ever heard in your life.  Edd was way ahead of his time.  There wasn't anyone even close to him back then.  He big ole strong hands and could chord a guitar all day."

     Edd got the job and on October 28, 1951, he did his first recording session as a Blue Grass Boy.  "The First Whippoorwill" and "Christmas Times A-Coming" have both became standards in bluegrass.  Those who listen close to his voice on these recording will note a difference in his voice compared to later recordings.  This was due to Edd having a very bad cold that day.  Gordon Terry was on that first session and remembers, "I was with Bill when Edd first came to work.  He was a good boy.  I think he was one of the best guitar players and lead singers that Bill had.  He sure had a high voice, Bill couldn't get them to high for him.  He had a little different guitar style.  Most guitar players before then had been kinda the same style but Edd was a really good guitar player for Bill's type of stuff.  And at that time coming from Texas was kind of unheard of for bluegrass."

     Edd worked until early 1952 then he returned to Texas.  Herb says. "He worked on different cattle ranches around, but we still managed a few show dates as the Green Valley Boys.
Photo courtesy of Herb Mayfield.
 We managed to get a contract with 4 Star Records, but were were told they were not giving enough so we passed up, only to learn too late it was the same contract they signed with other bands."

     In early 1953 Edd returned to work with Monroe, this time he went to Bean Blossom to live.  Jimmy Martin was playing guitar with the Blue Grass Boys so Edd and his wife Jody and son Freddy moved to Bean Blossom where he was a part of the band that played each weekend.

     In March, Edd and Jody became proud parents of another son. "Carl was born in March and the snow was so deep" Jody recalls, "Edd carried me home from the hospital in knee deep snow.'  Not long after Carl was born Jimmy Martin left the Blue Grass Boys and Edd replaced him.  In June of 1954 he again recorded with Monroe.  "My Little Georgia Rose. (a second version of the song for Decca) "Close By" and "Put My Little Shoes Away" were cut.   Later that year in September he worked the session where "Blue Moon of Kentucky" was re-recorded.  In the late autumn again he decided to go back to Texas.  This time he worked for the rodeo producer, Morris Stevens.

   Steven provided rodeo stock for all the major rodeos in the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico and Oklahoma area.  Edd became a full time rodeo hand and contestant.
But the longing to play music was too strong.  In early 1958 he returned to Nashville.  He recorded the gospel album "I Saw The Light" during February and March and in April 1958 recorded the two classic instrumentals "Scotland" and Panhandle Country". (The latter is played in C chord.  Edd capo-ed down three frets and played the break in A to get a better tone.)

     I asked several former Blue Grass Boys about Edd.  "Edd was a very pleasant fellow and very much a man," Kenny Baker responded.  "He played a mighty strong guitar."

     "What I will always remember most about Edd is his quiet nature,: recalled Merle "Red" Taylor, "He was always a friend to everyone.  Among other things he was a real Texas cowboy.  He could ride and rope cattle with the best of them.  I think Edd Mayfield stood just as high with Bill Monroe singing as any man who ever sung with him."

     James Monroe remembers, "I used to get Edd to pitch baseball with me.  They would come in off the road dead tired, but Edd would always take tome to play ball.  He was a stout man too.  He could climb a rope with out using his feet.  He was powerful."

     In a recent show at Bean Blossom I talked to Bill Monroe about Edd Mayfield.

     "Well Edd was a good man and he was a good guitar man, a good singer."  I asked if he added anything to bluegrass.  "Yes, Sir, he did.  He played a great part in bluegrass when he came in there with me.  He was wonderful in the quartet and our duets together.  Yes, Sir, I thought a lot of Edd, he was great on that quartet album, 'I Saw The Light.'"

     I asked Bill if he's had any guitar men who played the way Edd did.   "No, Sir.  He had his own style and was really good with it.  Edd was a strong man, he helped me move a house there on the farm.  He was really stout."

     "You Know the old time way of digging post holes, he could really dig a post hole.  He could ride a horse and lasso any kind of cow or calf.  One time they seen him go over the bank here on his horse--the horse was named Pal.  He named that horse after, 'Goodbye Old Pal.'  So they seen him go over the hill running that bull. So when they all went over that hill to see what went on, they didn't know what happened.  They went down to where he was.  The bull was laying down, Edd had throw ed him and tied him and was standing up there by Pal.  Pal was right there with him."

      Bill spoke of the last trip that Edd took:  "We left Nashville one time from the farm.  I could tell he was looking bad.  He didn't look good.  We went on to Pulaski, Virginia.  We went to a hospital and they couldn't take him in there someway.  I don't know why, We went on into Bluefield and I took him to see a doctor there. So, then they come back to me and told me he had about three days to live, I went to calling his people, got his wife to come on up from Nashville.  I stayed with him all the way.

     He was a fellow who really loved watermelon and I asked him what he'd like to have that day and he said 'some watermelon.'  So I went and got him some watermelon and brought it back to him.  He went to eating some and like it and I told him that watermelon was from Kentucky.  You know we used to kid each other about Kentucky and Texas. I told him that that watermelon was from Kentucky, he laughed and said, "That's the best kind, ain't it!"  When his wife and boys got there , he got to speak to his sons I think and told them, "You are going to have to let me rest.'  He focused his eyes up there on the wall in the corner and he just stayed right there.  I'd say in fifteen or twenty minutes he was gone.  I guess Edd really loved Texas.  They buried him in Texas--Dimmit, Texas.

     "Edd was the kind of man who loved  mother nature, that's what I've always loved and he really loved mother nature.  Its a shame that he had to leave so young.'

     Edd Mayfield passed away July 7, 1958 at the age of 32.  Merle "Red" Taylor's words say it all, "We lost a great friend in Edd Mayfield, but his life and music will remain in all our memories forever."

Written By Doug Hutchens and Reprinted by Permission of Blue Grass Unlimited.    pp.26-30 August 1983

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Doug Dillard......You had too many ends to your candle and yet you kept them all lit.....

Thanks for being my friend..... Still remember you playing "Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed" on the Andy Griffith, Don Knott, Jim Neighbors TV Special....told you about it several times and you all ways grinned... And Kenny Baker talking about you following him on the banjo playing fiddle tunes....He said it time and time again...."that Dillard Boy could get it"......Again you grinned.

I told you time and time again...I love you man.....tonight I miss you Man......and I always will.

Rest Easy Doug Dillard

I love you

Doug Hutchens

Soon those who are interested can come back here soon and hear an interview I did with Doug in 1990.....It was a pleasure then and I consider it an honor to pass it along.......

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom and Aunt Lou

Easter has always been a special time in our family and this one is no different.

Yesterday afternoon Uncle Eustaces' family did a birthday supper for Mom (Lillian Hutchens) and Aunt Lou (Lou Hutchens) They are sisters. Mom's birthday was friday and she was 88 and Aunt Lou's will be 90 on Monday .
Many neighbors and family members were able to attend....It was a great afternoon of fellowship, friends and food.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Earl Scruggs Interview

This morning I awoke for the first time in my life to a world with out an Earl Scruggs. I will try to assemble some words later, but I tried to give Earl "my flowers while he was living" and will allow you if you choose, to remember him today in his own words.
Here is a link to an interview I did with Earl on Halloween night 1989 in his home in Madison Tennessee.

Scroll down the page and you will see: The Doug Hutchens and Earl Scruggs Interview Track 01 -- 15 where he talked about a variety of things and I played music before and after each segment. Somehow track 15 is so appropriate today.....
I don't think you have to be a member to listen, but if you do its free and I think you will find it worthwhile.