Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Doug Hutchens Bill Monroe

Tex Logan's Party August 1971
Bill Keith, Joe Stuart partially hidden, Tex Logan, Marc Horowitz, Bill Monroe, Doug Hutchens, David Grissman. Photo courtesy Ron Petronko












Doug Hutchens, Mark Hembre, Bill Monroe. Lousiville, Kentucky September 1982
Photo courtesy Jim Silliman







Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grady Nutt







Its hard to beleive that it has been so long.....



29 years ago this afternoon Grady Nutt spoke to a youth group then to a banquet in Cullman Alabama. Grady's plane crashed soon after takeoff on the trip back to Louisville.






Two weeks to the night before this, He and I sat in the dining hall at Alice Lloyd College where we talked of an instrument he wanted me to build him. Basically a tipple with a banjo body.



I sure miss that man, but will never forget him.












Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Haze Hall


This tape was given to me by some wonderful friends Janie and Troy Brammer. Troy being a legendary banjo player himself and knew Haze Hall well. The person doing the interviewing is a nephew I think and was done on Haze's front porch with his banjo on July 21, 1979. 

Haze does not refer to the as a specific model number that we all throw around these days to him it was just one of the many banjos he owned over the years.  They were Mastertones' or they weren't.
I have searched the archives of Roanoke and Rocky Mount newspapers and no advertising appears for a Bill Monroe or Tommy Magness Show in Rocky Mount between June of 1946 and August of 1947 . {According to my research Earl said that the plastic from the his banjo fingerboard (Style 11) began coming off at Blytheville Ark on July 4, 1946}.
This site is still very much "Under Construction" and if you have an ongoing interest in the banjo and its lore, feel free to stop by and see what I have uncovered.


Interviewer:
That there was a good write up they gave you in the Martinsville paper, when was it in 74. I’ve done forgot,
Mother gave me a copy of it and I Xeroxed it at work and made about 8 copies of it.

Haze:There were two girls come up here and wrote up a bunch of junk and sent a photographer up here the next day and I sat out there in my shop door and they took two or three pictures of me. I think they took a picture of me on an old boring machine, first one thing and another.
They wrote up two write-ups on me in the Martinsville paper one me and one in the Bassett paper I think.

Interviewer: 
How come you didn’t never go off and play like Scruggs and them other boys?

Haze: Wasn’t able.

You liked it here too good to didn't you.

I wasn’t struck on this place, but I had wife and two kids to look after, they had no way to make a living, so I was the main dependent.
It takes money to make money, course everybody don’t know that, but they’ll find it out late in life. If they don’t know it to start with, they’ll learn it before they die.
You can’t 50 cents and make dollar out of it. Never could.

Did you work over at Bassett Furniture.

Yea, I worked down there for the biggest part of my life, I worked down there pretty close to 50 years.

And you just played for square dances and all around here.

I was just out for good entertainment. I liked it and I never didn't never make too much money at it. Of course I expect that all the money I ever made since I been making music might be ten thousand dollars I don‘t know. I never did take care of none of it. It come easy and went easy.

Did you ever play any on the radio with a band?

Radio and Television both.

Where did you play on Television, over at Roanoke?

I never did play over at Roanoke but one time on television but I could have played all the time if I'd a wanted too. You can't afford to drive to Roanoke or Greensboro or somewhere just to get to play for nothing.

Whats the name of some of the bands you played with?
Well I was playing with, now lets see I was playing with, what was there names…I believe the Blue Sky Boys, or Blue Star Boys something like that I've done forgot what the name of the band was that was a long time ago.

Yea…..

I played over at the Radio Station at Martinsville, we played over there.  We'd go on Monday night and played for a live program and made a tape for two or three other nights of the week and one for Saturday evening.  We stayed over about there til about twelve o'clock once a week. Didn’t get a thing out of it. I finally got fed up on publicity and I just quit.

Publicity don't put no groceries on the table do they.
Never have put a sop of gravy on my plate or crumb of bread either

Yea…..
Did you ever meet Reno, Don Reno.

Ya, I've met them all.  Mighty good friends of mine.  Don Reno he's got my banjo now that I let Earl Scruggs have.  He sent me word a while back he had it put up, he wanted to take care of it,  he had another banjo he was playing and he had that one put up,  he was afraid of it getting lost or somebody stealing it or it getting torn up or something, he wanted to keep it. 
Somebody told me said he told them wouldn't take ten thousand dollars for it. Ah its just a keep sake banjo it an't no better banjo than this one.(he was sitting on his porch with a Vega Earl Scruggs Model) I've owned them both and played them both.



Is that the one you got from Martin?..
No, I got that banjo from Edmund Jones down next to Danville. Jim Tuggle bought the banjo new, it was practically a new banjo when ever I got it. Edmund went to army and stayed a spell and when he come back he’d kind of lost out on playing a banjo.
 I had one these here cheap Gibson banjos, and I sold it for 75 dollars and I believe I gave him a hundred dollars that one, Yeah, I know I did, I paid him 75 dollars down on it and come back to the house and got the rest of the money and went back the next day and got the banjo, I didn't have the money with me the night I went down there to see it.
I went down there one time aiming to trade him another banjo for it, it had old strings on it and wouldn’t chord nowhere, I wouldn’t give him fifty cents for it. So the next time I went back it had good strings on it and it corded good everywhere and played good .
So I went back again and asked him what he wanted for it and he said he really didn’t want to sell it, but would take a hundred dollars for it. I gave him a hundred dollars for it and sold it for a hundred fifty. I thought I made money on it. Course I spent ten dollars on a head on it. I had a hundred and ten dollars in it.

How did Earl Scruggs get up with you

I went up here to Rocky Mount one day. He and Bill Monroe was supposed to be flying up there to play with Tommy Magness and the Hall Twins. They got in up there that evening about dark, I had done played there all day, I‘d done give out. I told Earl I had me a Mastertone Banjo, and I reckoned that Saeford and Clayton told him so too…. He come down here that night about 10:30 to buy it. I sold it to him. My wife begged and cried for me not to sell it but I'm an old hard head and sold it anyway.

He probably made ten thousand dollars with it.

Ten Thousand Dollars……..Well he didn’t make too much money with that banjo, he didn’t keep it long. The one he traded for, he made a lot of money with that. It was a good banjo too, he’s still got it. He got it from Don Reno, it was an old gold plated banjo, but the gold was done sheaded off of it, it looked worst than all but it sounded good.

So he traded the banjo the banjo he got from you to Don Reno and Don Reno's still got it?
He traded it to Don for that old Mastertone and a new Martin Guitar too.
Don wanted it.
The conversation continues about Clayton and Saeford the Hall Twins..


According to the Hatch Show Print ledgers this is the only date that Bill worked near Bassett Virginia in 1946,  They worked Alta Vista on the 17th, Martinsville on the 18th, Lynchburg on the 19th and back to Nashville for the 20th.  I'm thinking that since Alta Vista is near Rocky Mount, this just might have been the date that Earl purchased the banjo.

July 4, 1946ThursdayBlytheville, Ark
July 5, 1946FridayBall ParkUnion City, Tn
July 6, 1946Saturday
July 7, 1946SundayMacon, Ga
July 8, 1946MondayColumbus, Ga
July 9, 1946Tuesday
July 10, 1946WednesdayBall ParkWaycross, Ga
July 11, 1946ThursdayBaseball StadiumThomasville, Ga
July 12, 1946FridayBaseball ParkMoultrie, Ba
July 13, 1946Saturday
July 14, 1946SundayAmusement ParkHuntington, W. Va.
July 15, 1946MondayMemorial AuditoriumBeckley, W.Va
July 16, 1946TuesdayMemorial AuditoriumBeckley, W, Va
July 17, 1946WednesdayHigh School AuditoriumAlta Vista, Va
July 18, 1946ThursdayHigh SchoolMartinsville, Va
July 19, 1946FridayLynchburg City ArmoryLynchburg, Va
July 20, 1946Saturday
July 21, 1946SundaySunset ParkWest Grove, PaWest Grove, Pa
July 22, 1946MondayTent ShowPa
July 23, 1946TuesdayTent ShowPa
July 24, 1946WednesdayTent ShowPa
July 25, 1946ThursdayTent ShowPa

As you can see the 18th was the only time that Bill and The Blue Grass Boys came into the area during this time...   Other dates and locations that year don't fit either ...  So this just might have been when Earl got the banjo...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Lester Flatt

Its hard to beleive that it has been 32 years since Lester Flatt passed away.

I was working at Alice Lloyd College and had just came in and turned on the evening news. I think it was Roger Mudd who said "Today in Nashville Tennessee, Country Music Entertainer Lester Flatt died". I sat and tears flooded my eyes. I had been working with Bill Monroe when he and Lester "Buried the Hatchet" after a long time feud.
As I sat there I remembered all the times that he and Bill got together on June 20, 1971 after they walked on stage at Bean Blossom, shook hands and sang Little Cabin Home on the Hill. While Bill was taking a mandolin break, Lester looked over and said "Its been a long time, Bill", Bill was in mid break and nodded. Few heard this because its not on the tape of that reunion, but I was sitting at the corner of the stage and heard it.

In the fall of 1971 after returning to college, I attended a show at Sandy Ridge School when Lester appeared there. I was sitting in the 3rd or 4th row and when they took an intermission Roland White came out and told me that Lester wanted to see me. I went down the hallway to the classroom where they were and Lester was talking to someone, I spoke to Haskel McCormick and when Lester finished his conversation he kinda nodded his head sideways for me to come over as if he wanted to say something that he didn't want others to hear. He ask me how I was doing and after I said things were fine, he asked "Did you and Bill have words?" I said no that I had left the band to go back to school to which he said "Well, I'm glad to hear that" and that "me and Bill had worked a date a couple of weeks ago and I saw that you weren't with him".
It was so nice to have someone like Lester to even care.

I sure miss you Lester.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Carlton Haney: In tune with the Universe

I’ve visited Carlton's resting place regularly since his services.
Its a very peaceful place where birds sing sweetly and soar on the breeze; toward the east there is a beautiful view of the rolling Carolina Piedmont.

In life Carlton enjoyed the spotlight occasionally as he arranged entertainment for the masses. It was fitting that on the day of his services that the Heavens honored him, March 19, 2011 the Full Moon was the closest to the Earth that it will be until 2016.

In Carlton’s later years he talked of Bill Monroe’s timing, the teachings of Pythagoras and mathematical connections to music.

Today He rest at Latitude: 36.425962 and ,Longitude -79.723535;

http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=36.426291,-79.723684&spn=0.00202,0.004292&t=f&z=17&ecpose=36.42548814,-79.7236836,618.02,0,13.184,0&lci=com.panoramio.all and

Where continues to travel, he makes a trip around the sun one time each year,
now being truly in tune with the Universe.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Early Festivals

Jamming with some of the featured bands was very prominent back in the early days of festivals. I can remember the first Jam sessions I was in back in 68 or 69. It was at the Union Grove Old Time Fiddlers Convention. Joe Greene was there to enter the contest and Kenny Baker had just come down for the weekend to visit with Mr.Tommy Jarrell and just fiddle around.
This was a short time after Joe and Kenny did the twin fiddle recording for County Records. The little Firehouse at Union Grove was packed with Pickers...I can't remember who all of them were, I do remember Butch Robins and Roger Sprung were in the group and that I was definately the most novice banjo player there. What impressed me was Baker and Joe would fiddle a while and then nod to each picker to take a break, they didn't care how good you were, just give what you had. Then at Bean Blossom in 70 I would get with Eddie and Peanut Bush from Louisville and we would jam every night. "Peanut" I never knew her name, she was always called "Peanut" was a wonderful lady singer and Eddie was a great mandolin player with "The right timing" Bill would come by every night and take Eddie's mandolin and play and sing a few with us. Then he would then go on to the other camp sites and do the same thing until he had covered a good amount of the grounds. Those were wonderful days.
When I was working for Gibson from 86 to 93 I walked the grounds at alot of festivals and was very depressed at the amount of jamming that was there. At this point I was looking at things with diffent eyes. I was doing my own research as to potential future instrument sales and I didn't think that jamming scene looked that healthy. The only place I really saw major amounts of jamming was Grass Valley Calif. I was used to the Bean Blossom's and McClure's of the 70's where you would see the likes of Dale Whitcomb and Grant Boatwright come and play for 4 days almost non stop.
It was not uncommon to hear Bill mention on stage as he did in Cosby Tennessee in 71 "I think Joe (Stuart) and Kenny have played non stop since we landed in here on thursday, I don't think they have even been to sleep".
After a fair amount of studying I realized why I was not seeing as much jamming back east. First many of the big time jammers had made thier way to the stage and were in performing bands and there were more listeners than pickers at the time and secondly and most important: bands were not being booked in the same festival for 2 or 3 days. In the early days of festivals, late 60's and until 71 or 72, usually bands were hired for all 3 days and most of the times stayed on the grounds from the beginning until the end of the festival. The first major groups I remember that began working one day or two was at Myrtle Beach either 71 or 72 when the Osborne Brothers and Lester Flatt either left out and went somewhere else or came in after working another date. Prior to this time there were not nearly as many festivals scattered around the country so you really didn't have anywhere else to go unless you had an individual date at a fair or auditorium anyway.
Until that point it had been common to work two or three days for a better price (per day)than just one day. I guess we could go back and check out some ads in old BU's and other publications from the period to verify when this began on a larger scale. As promoters realized that they could put more names on the flyers to create bigger lineups for the weekend the entertainers began to travel from date to date and make more money, lets say working 3 different locations for $500.00 or $600.00 per day rather than one place for 2 or 3 days and get $1,200. At this point also, most bands did not have drivers that were not in the band. When Danny Jones and I joined the Blue Grass Boys, Joe and Kenny wasted no time in putting both of us to driving the coach. Danny had been in transportation in the service and I was off the farm used to driving farm equipment so it wasn't a big leap for either of us.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys Summer 1971



On June 26, 1971 I stepped on stage with Bill Monroe to play bass for one tune, Bill ask me an hour or so before the show if I "had ever played any bass" to which I replied 'no not really', then he said "Go out there and let Joe Stuart show you how to play "Tallahassee". (a tune which was on his latest single record) Tonight you can play that number, then go set up the record table". Joe was very happy to show me the notes on the bass because that would mean that he would play twin fiddles with Kenny Baker and Joe loved to play fiddle.

It was "Shindig at Cripple Creek", Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Dan Jones first show on guitar, Jack Hicks was on the banjo, Kenny Baker on Fiddle and Joe Stuart had been playing bass for several months since Skip Payne's departure from the band. Bill had invited me on the previous Monday at Bean Blossom to travel around with the band for the summer, "sell records, and keep gas in the air conditioner generator".
photo borrowed from CardCow.com


Bill had asked me the previous fall to work with him for the summer and I had been at Bean Blossom Indiana since mid May helping Birch and Bertha, Bill's brother and sister in getting the Park ready for the week long festival that was held the 3rd week in June. After the week long festival we spent a couple of days cleaning up the cans, bottles and bags of trash left at camp sites. It was then Bill had asked me what it would cost me to go to school for the next year. (I had just finished my freshman year at Berea College) I told him it would be about 8 or $900.00. He counted out 9 one hundred dollar bills and said "take this home and put it in the bank and meet at the truck stop on 11W South of Roanoke on Friday afternoon". The plan was for them to call me as they came thru Bristol in order to give me time to get there.

After "Tallahassee" I started to take Joe's fiddle, give him the bass and go set up the records, Bill said "just stay with us". After a second tune; Footprints in the Snow, (Joe had slipped over near me to show me encouragement on the bass) again I started to take Joe's fiddle and give him the bass when Bill turned around and said "are you determined to leave us" I said "well no not really", he said "You stay right here until I tell you to go". This was only the second time I had ever played bass with a group on stage, up until this time I thought I was a banjo player .

In the March 1972 issue of Atlantic Monthly, Robert Cantwell wrote a piece called "Believing in Bluegrass." He was impressed with the performance of a young group "The Brown County Boys" who had won the band contest at Bean Blossom and how they paid tribute to Bill Monroe when someone in the audience called out one of his popular instrumentals by saying "lets leave that one for the master".



Well as Paul Harvey says, here is the rest of the story.

Three of the Brown County Boys were brothers and as brothers tend to do, a couple of hours prior to the performance, for some reason one of them along with another of the band members left and went home, leaving the group with out a mandolin or bass player. Darrell Sanson was a very good young mandolin player from Ohio so they asked Darrell to play mandolin but couldn't find a bass player.

They were discussing the situation at Calvin Robins camp site along the fence of the wooded area of the park and Calvin suggested that I play bass with them. I had literally never played bass but they convinced me to give it a shot. We borrowed a bass from Buck White and the girls who were camped right beside us, the boys were going to play "Mention her name" that they had written and recorded and was later recorded by the Bluegrass Alliance, then"Love Come Home was next. Like I said earlier I was not a bass player anyway, sure I could play simple G positions but only simple tunes. Calvin suggested that I use a Bill Russell guitar capo and told me to put it on backward so I could slide it to the appropriate position on the neck of the bass and continue to play in simple G notes and all I had to do was just keep time, smile allot and ease through it.

Things were going well, we had played 2 or 3 tunes then someone called "Rawhide". Rawhide was one of Bill's signature mandolin instruments that I had played on the banjo countless times but I had no ideas of the bass lines for "Rawhide" so I told the boys "Lets leave that one for the Master" as Bill and The Blue Grass Boys were following us. I had no idea that anyone would remember those words.

I guess all this just goes to show that doing something that I wasn't comfortable at all, lead to a great opportunity. In later years I've often wondered if Bill had seen me on stage that night as he walked toward the stage and the idea was possibly planted that lead to be becoming the bass man for Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys from June 26 until August 28th 1971.

There are lessons in everything we do, opportunities are all around us, all we have to do is be open and accepting to new and exciting possibilities.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Carlton Haney "That's a Blue Grass Festival"

Bonnie, Carltons daughter asked Steven Martin to read this at the grave side.


“When the festivals are over and my friends leave, well I cry. Because they’re part of me. They’re part of the festival. You never know when next year that one might not be here. And when the music’s over on Sunday night, you’ll never know how lonely it is. But I sit in the pines and always write a story. I can still hear them singing, oh yeah, I can hear them singing. And then they always come back… the musicians and the people. It’s part of their lives and part of ours. So it hurts me to see them go… it hurts me to see them leave. But I know that most of them enjoyed theirself and the heard the greatest music in the world played by the greatest artists in the world. And that’s bluegrass music. That’s a bluegrass festival.”

Carlton Haney, Camp Springs, 1971

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Visiting Carlton Haney's Grave

I visited Carlton's final resting place yesterday afternoon for the first time. He rest near his Mother and Father in Roselawn Memorial Gardens near Reidsville North Carolina.
I had an appointment not far away and wanted to go by and make sure things were ok there, the flowers were beginning to fade a little, but all was well.

I had been given a copy of the 1972 Blue Grass Awards at Carlton's Funeral on Saturday by Mr. Knight(wish I could remember his first name) who used to tape many of the performances at Camp Springs and listened to it on my trip down. Sonny Osborne and Fred Bartenstein were giving the awards and Carlton spoke of the Museum and Learning Center he wanted to create on the grounds there. Unfortunately he never received the support he needed.

Carlton Haney had dreams; more dreams than the common man, but the difference in Carlton Haney and the common man was when Carlton had dreams many times he did something to try to make them materialize where as the common man's dreams go un acted upon.

On Saturday afternoon I was the last to leave his grave site, remembering Don Reno's funeral in 1984 where John Palmer, David Deese, Carlton and I were the last to leave.
Carlton, David and I stood as John's grave was filled, David passed only a few days before Carlton on March 13,th, I was at Davids funeral when Carlton passed from this earth.

Carlton's grave was filled and grass seeds strown at 4:43 PM on Saturday March 19, 2011.

Now they are all gone now and I feel very musically and creatively alone.

Carlton in his later years talked of being in rhythm and in tune with the Universe, it was fitting that on the day of his services, that night the moon was said to be brighter and closer to the earth than any time in the next 27 years. Fitting that the Universe shared it's special light on a Carlton who did so much in the background and never seeked the fame of the "bright lights".

Rest easy ole pal....I look forward to hearing your ideas again someday....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Carlton Haney











At Fincastle for a reunion (Photo: Marcia Goodman)



















I went to Berryville the first time in 1969 and was camping (basically sleeping in the car). I got there on Tuesday of what Carlton called his "Blue Grass School". He had Monroe's band to come in on Wednesday to do some workshops and they were there until Sunday. On Thursday evening about sunset I ran upon two guys from New York, Kenny Kosek and Jim Pelzer. Kenny was a good fiddler and Jim played a good Monroe style mandolin. But we were just jamming at the back of my car when this guitar player came by and began picking with us. After a few minutes we were picking pretty good this other gentleman came by and the guitar player said Dewey get your bass and he did. We'd probably played an hour or so when Carlton and John Miller came walking by. They stood and listen til we ended the song and he said Del, I know Dewey but who is the rest of your band. Del said I really don't know these guys we just got together a few minutes ago. (We didn't know it until then but the Del was Del McCoury)





















Carlton couldn't believe it...he said you guys don't know each other? We said no and he ask each of us who we were were and where we were from. Kenny and Jim were from New York and I was from Spencer Virginia. Carlton was elated. He said Boys this is just what I hoped would happen. People from all over the country meeting and being able to play and sing together. He listened a while then walked on down the field a little ways, turned and came back. He said that JD Crowe was supposed to close out the show on Friday night but he had to do something in Washington for the Smithsonian and how would we like to play JD's spot. (At Carlton's visitation March 18th, 2011, I asked Doyle Lawson about that night at Berryville. He was playing with JD Crowe and said they had worked a show over at the Folklife Festival in Washington that they had there during the 4th of July each year)











It floored all of us.... So Friday night at 10:00 Fred Bartenstein was introducing us when Carlton came out on stage. Fred had said that we have these guys and what are we going to call them...lets call them the Watermelons...Then Carlton came to the mike and said that "these boys have made my dream come true", "when We first started doing these shows I hoped that people from all over the country would meet and play this music together". Lets call them the Muleskinner Boys...With that Del did the C-run intro and Kenny went into "Watermelon Hanging on the Vine". We went on into "Toy Heart" and "On and On", the tunes kept flowing. After a little while someone called for "Uncle Pen" and Sonny Osborne came out and sang baritone, Then Billy Baker and Wayne Yates came out for a tune or two. We were running over on time bad but having a wonderful time, finally Carlton came out and said that we'd have to shut it down for the night but invited us to be a part of the "Story" on Sunday. We did an hour and the sound man did a tape of it for me.











This was the first time I was ever on stage at a Blue Grass Festival and after we came of stage that night Carlton came out to my car about the time I was getting ready to get in the back seat and go to sleep and said there is a little building on the other side of the stage with a cot in in. Why don't you sleep there from now on, you'll be much more comfortable. For some reason I didn't remember when to be at the stage on Sunday and I missed the "Story" tune. Earl Sneed was playing banjo when I walked up while the "Story" was being done.





I've always regretted missing that but it was a great time on Friday night.

In later years Carlton brought up that night many times that "his dream came true" of having people from all parts of the country and walks of life be able to play Blue Grass together having never done it before.


In recent years I've spent countless hours on the phone with him. Any call always lasted a couple of hours and I wish I had taped some of our conversations. He was one of the most wonderful "Characters" of this industry and always thinking creatively.









In his later years he did a lot of thinking of how and why things happen, rather than making things happen as he had in his early days. Due to this many just sort of 'wrote him off' as having lost it, I guess that is not uncommon when we hear information beyond our comprehension. He spoke of Pythagoras, being in rhythm with the rotation of the earth and its place in the Universe, he studied the notes of the instruments, the vibrations, pitches, I wish I had all of what he said recorded.


Possibly someone has all this recorded, and in the future we might understand it better all bye and bye.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

David Deese



Dan Jones, David Deese, Rob Marshall, Doug Hutchens in Owensboro Kentucky June 2011
Photo courtesy of Rob Marshall











David Deese and Tater Tate


David, always being the thoughtful one with flowers for Tater's wife who could not attend that afternoon.






April 16, 2007 Tater Tate Appreciation Day






Bristol, Tennessee












April 16, 2007







Randy Franks, Blake Williams, David Deese, Wayne Lewis, Tom Ewing

























David Deese









"From the Red Smiley 'Top of the Morning' Days circa 1965"










This past Sunday March 13th, 2011 I lost a great friend.

David was the closest thing I ever had to a brother when it came to music. I watched him when I was a teenager on the Arthur Smith TV show and also later when he took Don Reno's place with Red Smiley on "Top of the Morning" each morning on WDBJ TV in Roanoke Virginia.


It was a Don Reno's Funeral in October 1984 that our friendship grew. As the final prayer was prayed and most folks began to leave the cemetary the grave was filled. When the final shovel of sod was placed, there was 4 people left standing at the head of the grave. John Palmer, Carlton Haney, David Deese and myself. We all knew each other from the music business. Later when John passed Carlton, David and myself were there. Now David has joined Don and John and Carlton is suffering from a stroke. (Sadly Carlton passed at 2:15 on the day of David's funeral March 16, 2011)

When James Monroe asked me to put together a reunion of Bill Monroe's band members David was always there. We traveled to Rosine time after time to Honor the Memory of Bill.

Once after visiting the legendary fiddler Gordon Terry, and seeing he was not in good health, on the way home David looked over at me while driving along and said "Buddy I want to make sure that one thing is straight between you and me. If for some reason I don't wake up tomorrow morning, I want you to know that you're my friend." and that's the words we parted with each visit with from that time on.

We gave each other our flowers while we were living.

I am going to miss him.


David was a life long musician. He and his father Tom played in his early years, they traveled many times to Richmond to the New Dominion Barn Dance and it was on these trips where he met Bill Monroe and Red Smiley.
Barely out of high school he became the banjo player for the "Arthur Smith Show" based out of Charlotte NC. Later he went to Nashville to take a job with Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper only to find the were out of town when he got there and a chance meeting with Frank Buchanan let to David becoming a Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe.
When Don Reno and Red Smiley parted company Red chose David to fill the banjo position and he kept that spot until he was drafted and pulled a tour in Vietnam.
Upon returning to the states David worked with George Wynn near Richmond for a while, but when the group was planning a USO tour and Vietnam was on the tour, David and Fred Duff switched bands as he had no interest to return there. He later joined the Jones Brothers for over 20 years and later with the Briar Hoppers. In the early 1990's he and Betty Fisher joined forces in the Betty Fisher-David Deese and Dixie Bluegrass for a period. He did numerous recordings with friends and Pat Ahrens is working on a book about his life and times.

I am going to miss him so much.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wheelwright

"Wheelwright" I worked that out tune in Ottawa, Ohio on a F2 mandolin that Kenny Baker had traded for when I was working for Bill. Bill came on the bus and ask me about what I was playing and I told him it was a tune I was working on and I was going to call it Wheelwright. He said that he worked that little town in Kentucky one time years ago and they had some sort of a disturbance there that he "had to take care of" and kind of chuckled.

A year or so later I went home from college with Jake Fraley from Wheelwright and when he told his dad I had worked for Bill he said that once Bill played the Wheelwright Theater and during the show some guys who had been drinking kept hollering during the show and the three of them got in a scuffle in the back of the theater. Bill laid his mandolin down with the still band playing, went to the back of the theater grabbed each by the seat of their pants and the neck of their shirt and threw all three of them out thru the box office. He walked back up and picked up his mandolin and finished the song.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Ashland Kentucky August 12-15, 1971

Jack Hicks and I came to Ashland a few weeks prior to do some advertising. We put up "window cards" and visited the local newspapers in Ashland and Huntington to get some newspaper ads for the festival.

As we were going back to Nashville, we heard on the radio that J.D. Crowe was playing the Lexingtion Blue Grass Fair so we took a detour to stop by and see J.D. and the band. It had gotten dark as we parked and walked toward the midway. We asked a couple of Fayette County deputies where J.D. was performing. They said he was way over on the other side of the fair and if we wanted to ride, they needed to patrol over that way anyway.

So we got in the back seat of the deputies' car (don't ever get in the back of a deputies car willingly). We rode along a few minutes when the two deputies jumped out and ran into the crowd. Friends, there are no handles in the back seat, so there Jack and I were sitting in the back of the car, lights flashing and all sorts of people coming by and looking at us and wondering what we were in for. We found it was little use to ask anyone to open the door from the outside, so we waited. Jack was always the master of all situations. He would simply wave and grin at all who peered in to look at us. When the deputies finally came back they had new occupants that they needed to transport. All of a sudden we then felt the need to stretch our legs and we gladly walked to see J.D. and the guys.

On Tuesday before the festival, Jack and I took the bus out to the truckstop on Trinity Lane there in Goodlettsville to fill the bus with fuel and get it washed. While they guys were washing the bus, we got the ball and gloves from under the bus and were pitching baseball in the parking lot. Jack threw one long and high, and as I was walking backward, I didn't see the curb and while stumbling, the ball hit me right in the eye, giving me a good dark black shiner. Bill, Kenny, and Joe got a good laugh at me about that one.
We left Nashville on Wednesday night about midnight to go to Ashland for Bill's 2nd Annual Bill Monroe Ashland, Kentucky, Festival.
It was held at Rockdale Park. Rockdale park had an indoor stage, and across a creek and in a flat bottom land area, a wonderful outdoor stage.

There was a photo by Carl Fleischhauer included in the first Bill Monroe discography by Neil Rosenberg that didn't include me. I've always meant to ask Carl if I was cropped out because of the black eye.

Ashland was a wonderful festival. I played six shows a day there.
Jim McCown had left Sam King and The Pine Mountain Boys. Sam asked Bill if I could play banjo with his group since he hadn't found anyone yet and Bill agreed. Buck White and the Down Home Folks were on the show and Buck asked Bill if Jack could play with them. Jack and Sharon were dating at the time. Bill said "Doug can play banjo with you."

Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- Sam King and the Pine Mountain Boys started the show. I wore a white shirt. Buck White and the Down Home Folks followed. I would rush backstage and change to the light blue shirt and return to the stage. Then I had a break until I returned with the bass with the Blue Grass Boys that ended each round of performances. After having the bass neck in my hands most of the summer, the banjo neck felt like a tooth pick.

It was a wonderful time. I have a few photos that my friend Harry Bickel took as I played bass, but I'd love to find some with Sam and Buck and the girls.


XXXXUnder ConstructionXXXXX

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Montreal August16-22, 1971


We left Ashland, Kentucky, on the night of the 15th of August and drove all night on the way to Montreal.

It was late Sunday evening, after Bill’s second bluegrass festival on the grounds of the Rockdale Jamboree. As we were packing up and getting ready to leave, it was about dark. We put the records and Opry picture books in Calvin Robins' camper, so we wouldn’t have to pay duty when we crossed the border into Canada. I had bought a bass from Junior Stennett in Ottawa, Ohio, a week or so before, so we left Joe Stuart’s bass with Calvin as well. We were the last to leave the grounds.


The festival had been a reasonably good one, but it was very hot all weekend, and by Sunday night we were all worn out. Looking ahead, Kenny had taken an afternoon nap and did the first shift driving. Then about 1 in the morning, Joe took over. It was just something we did -- we never drove at night without someone riding shotgun, so Kenny stayed up until about 4 a.m., when I awoke and took over from Joe. When I started driving, Kenny went to bed and Joe sat up riding shotgun with me.

I had pulled my 4 to 8 a.m. shift driving. We were just south of Buffalo New York, when Jack came up to take over driving. In the course of events of Jack taking the wheel and me getting out of the driver seat we missed a turn. (We never stopped the bus to change drivers; the one ready to drive took the wheel while the one driving got up and out of the seat.)
It took us a while to find an exit where we could do the flip and get onto the correct route again. I’d figure 20 or 30 minutes. About a half hour later, Bill came up and asked where we were, Jack told him and he looked as his watch and said, “We’ve lost some time somewhere, we should be on up the road by now. If we can’t make up the time, we’re going to be late.” Bill usually had a good idea of time and places. I guess it was the result of the highway being his home for all those years.
We pulled into the “Man and His World” location about 12:30, a half hour late. Jim McCall and Earl Taylor had just finished playing our first show for us. We worked at noon each day, again at 1:30 and 3:00 each day for the next 7 days. Bill also did a one-hour blues set each day with Williams and Jackson at 5:00 each afternoon.



The week we were there they had three stages. We worked the Main Stage near the entrance of the Dome. There was an "Plaza” location outside and a location called the “Barn” up on the 2nd or 3rd level. Ralph Rinzler, who spoke bilingually, was the host for the Main Stage and the Outside Plaza, with Utah Phillips hosting in the Barn.

We worked seven days inside the Buckminster Fuller Dome, originally constructed for the 1967 World's Fair.

Our week was billed as a week of Blue Grass and Blues. Ralph taped every show which were 30 minutes in length, and to this point in time, that collection of tapes have not surfaced.


I did borrow two tapes from Ralph during the week we were there and made crude copies using Ralph’s and Joe Stuart's old shoebox cassette recorders, putting them side by side in a closet and making copies of two special shows. One was the noon show on Tuesday, when Jack had told me the night before to make sure I had a banjo handy tomorrow (he probably wouldn’t make the show). The other was my first bass break. We were standing behind the backdrop and Kenny asked Bill what did he want to start with. Bill turned around and said “Virginia Darling,” and he looked at me and grinned, then said “With the bass break.”
My bass break on the tape sounded a little like someone beating an old inner tube with a baseball bat, but I made it through it.

Mr. Sam McGee was performing the next week. He got there on Sunday before our last show.




Somewhere there is a treasure of recordings. I remember Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs of Ralph Stanley's group telling us of the best places to eat and things we need to see when we were up there. So they had already done a week there, and I’m sure Ralph Rinzler taped everything they did as well.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Phuzz Street Knuckle Busters

Under Construction>>>>>>> After arriving at Berea College in August of 1970 I lived on 4th floor of Pearson Hall... I had taken my banjo with me to school and played some on the floor, but hadn't met anyone else who played...but I kept hearing of a guitar player that was on campus. It took from August until late September for us to meet. Dr. Gary English got us together to take some photographs for publicity for the first Appalachian Music Symposium that would be held that November... Glenn and I along with Dean Louie Smith and his fiddle went with Dr. English out to Indian Fort Theater. I had several first that day. I didn’t know Glenn, had never known the delight of Dean Louie Smith either until then and had never traveled all the way out to the theater yet. As it turned out, Dean Smith didn’t play the fiddle but in photographs it really didn’t matter. Somewhere in one of the old year books I think there a couple of those photos. Beside the College Post Office I first met Glenn Lawson...Playing a 12 string guitar with a large Peace Symbol on it and looking very much like one of the Beach Boys.....


Bean Blossom Indiana, Bill Monroe's Brown County Jamboree Barn. November 4th 1977


Photo courtesy of Tony Estes The last edition of the Knucklebusters


Tony Testerman, me, Ted Harlan, and Ed Kellough


1986 The Knucklebusters with Patty Davidson, about 1984-85



Tony and I in Lil Abner. He was Mayor Dogmeat and I was Marrin Sam. So much fun

We did the play as a dark night performance during Wilderness Road.

I didn't know what I was getting myself into...I'd never been anything but a dandialion in a 3rd grade play and I had no idea that Marrin Sam had to sing, dance and only 3 in lines to Lil Abner and Daisy Mae....


Craig Bannerman, Daisy Mae Luttrell, Glen Lawson, Tony Estes

during the time of my student teaching in 1974. Actually they called themselves the Blackhawk Bluegrass Band, but everyone still reffered to them as the Knucklebusters..



We hit the big time. Bill even announced on the Grand Ole Opry the week before that we were going to be a Bean Blossom....

Friday, February 18, 2011

Wilderness Road Outdoor Drama




During the Summer of 1974 I had the pleasure to work the Wilderness Road Outdoor Drama. Distinguished playwright Paul Green from North Carolina had created the Outdoor Presentation for the Colleges Centennial in the mid 1950's.



"Indian Fort Theatre is built as part of Berea College's centennial celebration. The outdoor amphitheatre in the College Forest serves as venue for "Wilderness Road" by playwright Paul Green. The Wilderness Road drama originally ran in the 1950s as a major part of Berea's Centennial Celebration. The 1950s centennial celebration was the brain child of Dr. W.D. Weatherford who put his proposition before Berea College President Francis S. Hutchins. After President Hutchins agreed, a $100,000 outdoor theater was built, Indian Fort Theatre) near the Pinnacles and dramatist Paul Green was hired to write the script. Weatherford had several purposes which he asked Green to incorporate into his story. First was the desire to make America aware of the strong characters of the people of Appalachia. Second, the value of education to the young people of the mountains needed to be emphasized. And last, Berea College's unique role in supplying higher education for mountain youth through its work-study programs needed to become known across the country. The drama, which told of the entry into Kentucky through the Cumberland Gap by the Boone party and its journey along Wilderness Road, of the founding of Berea, and of the Civil War in Kentucky, was an immediate success and ran for several years." http://www.berea.edu/150/timeline/hutchins2.html


Courtesy Berea College Special College Collections







During the 1973 season I got a call asking If I could fill as a replacement for Dewey Lamb who played banjo with his brother Lewis Lamb and his daughter Donna as on stage actor/musicians. He had the summer flu and I told them I'd be glad to, but I'd never acted before. The only thing I had ever done was being a dandelion in a 3rd grade play. They said Lewis and Donna will pull you thru it. I filled in for Dewey several nights and found I enjoyed it.

In the 74 season of the show I worked with Lewis and Donna as musicians.


From: Daily News Bowling Green Kentucky June 4, 1974
“This will be the third season for the revised version of Paul Green’s “Wilderness Road“, the story of a small mountain community caught up in the turmoil of the Civil War.
The drama at Indian Fort Theater in Berea Kentucky will begin June 26th and continue until September 1st with the last performance the only one on a Sunday.
Curtain time is 8:30 pm. CDT for each show.
New York actor Gary Poe heads the cast this season of “Wilderness Road” as John Freeman. Ellen Fiske, also a New Yorker plays Elsie Sims.
The character Freeman has some pacifist which conflict with the general thinking of the community. Elsie, a mountain girl, loves Freeman but her family doesn’t.
Berea College students make up a big part of the cast and Glenda White, known for her work on Kentucky outdoor stages plays Mrs.Sims
Authentic fiddle and banjo music will again be offered by the father daughter team of Lewis and Donna Lamb. Additional banjo help has arrived in the person of Doug Hutchens with credentials from Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass group and the Grand Ole Opry.”



When casting calls went out for the 1975 season I found that Lewis and Donna were not going to work the show that summer so Edd Kellough, Tony Estes and myself decided to try out for the roles for the on stage actor/musicians known in the Show as The Jones Boys; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I had always claimed to be a banjo player, so was Tony and Edd was a guitar man....I was going to learn to play the fiddle Tony on Banjo and Edd Guitar.......But fate stepped in.......and
as casting proceeded Bruce Green, noted old time fiddler and historian came on the scene and Dr. John Forbes from the Berea College Music Department also joined on bass. We had a great little 5 piece band on stage and on pre show we had a great little lady join us which was always a treat....


It was a wonderful summer. We did Wilderness Road 6 nights a week and two or three afternoon Pre-Show's; basically entertaining out at the front of the Theater as the audience arrived.

We also did a good amount of Promotional Performances doing TV in Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington and Knoxville along with the Bluegrass Fair in Lexington.
Our little Lady Friend was none other than Debra Monk who was to go on to New York and become a Highly Successful and Awarded Actress in both stage and screen.(Pep Boys and Dinette, NYPD Blue, Greys Anatomy......to name only a few)
She always did a wonderful version of the old Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs tune "I'll go stepping too". She also had a "memorable encounter with "THE" Colonel Sanders" one afternoon. Yes Colonel Sanders was quite real....I hope Debbie will chime in on this.....as Paul Harvey say's "The rest of the story".

Debra Monk, Doug Hutchens, Bruce Green, Edd Kellough, Dr. John Forbes, and Tony Estes as we performed as the audience arrived at Indian Fort Theater. Photo courtesy David Davis.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

First day with those green shirts

We played Hilbrook Recreational Center from August 2-8 for Henry Vehoff. (This was one of the most wonderful places I had ever seen for a festival. There were great clean showers, a laundry facility, a beautiful lake and campground)
Henry had asked Don Reno about starting a Blue Grass Festival and the best way to get started.
Don told him to get two great bands and have them all week. Have some workshops, some contest and a festival Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We spent Monday and Tuesday with workshops on the various instruments. Wednesday there were individual competions and a band contest on Thursday.

Then Friday, Saturday and Sunday the festival began, Flatt, Stanley, The Gentlemen with John Duffy (Gaudreau had a reserve obligation) Bill and John Duffey got the baseball gloves from under the bus and spent a portion of Saturday afternoon pitching baseball. Both seeing if they could out throw the other...Somewhere out there in "The vast "Land of the Flashbulbs of the Past" there are photos of that. If we could find one.
Top Photo Courtesy Dan Jones




Bottom Photo taken by Ginger "Sam" Kuykendall Alred. It was hot in that building.....
Henry asked Don's advice and Don suggested Reno, Smiley, Harrell and Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys for the week for workshops and to judge the contest then do a show each evening.

We worked all 7 days to a small but attentive crowd from Monday til Thursday then on Friday he had a good crowd for the remainder of the weekend.

Bill had all sorts of people who wanted to be close to him whereever he went. Many were great folks, but there were some who were down right irritating. On Monday one of these individuals showed up,,,,hanging around everywhere, on the bus, by the bus and just everywhere....On Tuesday another showed up..... Bill was very irritated at their constant hanging around and was somewhat ill tempered from time to time the remainder of the week. Thats how the Don Reno cutting Dan Jones hair came about.

But during the week one of these individuals who could get lets say a little "windy", told a fan about how the Blue Grass Boys always wore white shirts....all the time. You could tell it didn't set well with Bill, he didn't say a word at the time, but after the person had left he gave Joe Stuart some cash and told him to go and get the band a set of shirts---any color but white. Joe was gone a while and came back with Green Shirts. Thus the "Green Shirt Edition" of the Blue Grass Boys in 1971.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bill Monroe's Gibson F5 peghead (the real story)



I spoke with Bill about the mandolin quite a bit when I worked with him and even more when I was working for Gibson.


While shooting the photographs for the 1989 Gibson poster and laying the groundwork for the Bill Monroe Model Mandolin, I asked Bill about breaking the scroll off the peghead.
I had always assumed that he broke it off when he scraped the finish off the mandolin but Bill said no that was not the case and that the it accidentally got knocked loose and it was held on by the plastic (binding). It got to buzzing so he pulled it off and intended to have I think it glued back.
He said that Benny Martins brother Gene and Ira Louvin was about the only two that worked on instruments around town back then. He said he carried the little "Knob" in his suit coat pocket for a long time but when he sent the coat to the cleaners it got gone and he just forgot about it.



While speaking about digging the Gibson out of the peg head I suggested that I could cut a script Gibson from Mother of Pearl and put it back if he wanted too, then he said jokingly that he had thought at times that he should have "Thing" put up there.


Its a real shame to me that Billy Grammer talked Bill into letting Gibson repair the peg head. That battle scared peg head was the symbol of Blue Grass to many of us. Kind of like fixing the "Liberty Bell" and making it good as new.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tex Logans Party and thePhiladelphia Folk Festival 1971







Top Photo










































Bottom Photo


Tut Taylor, Bill, Kenny Baker(behind Bill) Vassar Clements(with John's banjo)Byron Berline, John Hartford, Kenny Kosek , Jack Hicks, Joe Stuart, Norman Blake, Doug Hutchens...photos courtesy Ron Petronko




We came in from Tex Logan's Party to the motel at Washingtons Crossing Pa on Friday night and it was raining very heavy....almost monsoon like.












On Saturday we made our way to the festival site and it was a mud hole. We all had to wear old shoes to stage then change into clean ones for the show.








We did a workshop Saturday morning about 11:00 and a show about 8:00 that night. The workshop stage was crowded.




After we got thru playing and back to the bus everyone had mud all over their shoes. Baker and I had just put ours under the bus when Bill came by and said "Kenny you and Doug put your other shoes back on and come with me. We didn't know where we were going but we followed Bill and one of the promoters down several lanes of tents and into a large tent. They proceeded to count out $2,000.00 to Bill in mostly 20's and 50's. Then he took the large roll of bills and divided them in about half and gave half to Kenny and half to me. He told me to put them in our pocket and he said "I'll be right behind you in case there is some trouble". We walked back to the bus and handed Bill the two rolls of cash and proceeded to get ready to pull out.






It had been raining there for several days and the ground was rotten with water. When we pulled the bus in the folks who parked us made sure we were on solid high ground just off the pavement. When we got ready to leave on Saturday night the small one lane black top we had to drive down had cars parked on both sides. Many of them were not all the way off the pavement and we saw that we weren't going to be able to get the bus out. The crowd was large and it would have been crazy to think we could find the people who owned the cars to move them to let us out. So Bill told Kenny to get behind the wheel and Bill, Jack, Joe, Ron Petronko and myself got out and would pick up on one end of the car and slide it over then go to the other end and do it again. We probably slid at least 25 or more cars either to the right or the left in order to be able to get the coach out that night.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

One a day


From this point on I'm going to post either a story or a photo each day.


I got an email from Doug Benson recently and it only reminded me again of the wonderful friends I have all around the globe. I first met Doug at Berryville in about 1970 and we have been great friends ever since.


If you'd like some listening while you're reading this... http://www.sugarmegs.org Search: Bill Monroe and look for Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys 8-25-72 Philadelphia Folk Festival - Schwenksville, PA (wrong year, it was 71). http://tela.sugarmegs.org/_asxtela/asxcards/BillMonroeAndTheBluegrassBoys1971-08-28PhiladelphiaFolkFestivalPA.html
but this was the last show I played with Bill Monroe as a Blue Grass Boy. Photo courtesy Artie Rose's Bluegrass Photos http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=136414009733354&set=a.136411786400243.12090.100000942667331

We were pretty hot, having come off 7 days in Montreal at Man and His World doing 4 shows a day. Then a day or two off.... This was a differnet configuration of the Blue Grass Boys as Tex Logan and Byron Berline were not regular members...And this was Joe Stuarts first day back on the guitar.
On the 26th of June he left the bass to make room for me in the band and he played twin fiddles with Kenny Baker all summer until two nights before at Stoverstown Pa at a fair. Dan Jones left the next day and Joe did what all good Blue Grass Boys do and did what was needed. This was at the Phily Folk Festival.. Tex, Kenny and Byron(Who was playing with the Burrito Brothers that weekend) sat in with us, played 3 fiddles and I got a dose of Blue Grass guitar from Joe Stuart, this was a tremendous send off as it was my last day with the band August 1971. Also look at that "deer in the late night headlight look on my face" we all had to wear shoes that were not stage quality to the stage and put the stage shoes on, up on the steps....It had rained, rained and well say Grandpa Jones's It raining, raining, raining here this morning could have been written that morning....



Doug asked some questions...of which a portion of which I will post a portion here. At least this will get me started putting some of the things in my head on paper.

January 20, 2011

Howdy y'all,

A positive note to counteract the midwinter blahs........ Sixty years ago today (January 20, 1951), Bill Monroe cut his classic barnburner "RAW HIDE" in Nashville - - plus a couple other gems which I've been too lazy to look up. For some reason the Raw Hide session date has always stuck in my mind (probably because the "Bluegrass Instrumentals" Decca LP with Ralph Rinzler's liner notes, including discographical data, was out by the end of 1965 and I pointed out in the printed program for our McGill U. Bill Monroe concert on Thursday, Jan. 27, 1966 - - Richartd Greene's d├ębut, btw, as a Blue Grass Boy - - that the date of that show marked 15-years-and-one-week since that tune was cut). Which begs the question, is there a question about Max Terhune in the bluegraass trivia game? (Max was Bill's friend who had a part in the movie "Rawhide") - - or, more to the point, is Raw Hide banjoist Rudy Lyle still with us (I have a feeling Doug Hutchens will know the answer to that one).......


>>>Unfortunately we lost Rudy Lyle on February 11, 1985. I had just finished an article about him for Blue Grass Unlimited and he had corrected a few things. He was getting back into playing some after many years on inactivity on the banjo.

I remember during the times Rudy and I talked, him mentioning Max Terhune. For a while he traveled with Bill as part of the "Show". Max and his doll Elmer, he was a ventriliquist.

I've been doing some research (Searching the Prarie Farmer and Articles about the Chicago Worlds Fair in hopes of finding a photograph of the dancers) about Bill, Charlie, Birch and I think it was Larry Moore who were the dance troupe that worked together in the early days in Chicago and if I remember correctly, Max had been a part of the WLS show about that time. The friendship might have started there.


Doug Benson>>>>>good information on Rudy and Max - - much appreciated! I seem to recall your article on Rudy......I believe you mentioned he was involved in manufacturing some kind of light aircraft (or maybe gliders or some such)? I wish I had become acquainted with Rudy the way you did (what a gift). When Rudy played onstage at "Roanoke 1965", for some reason Carlton Haney had to reach over Rudy's banjo neck from behind and fret the fifth string (does the short string need a special capo or what is that all about?)........Seems to me I took a photo that captured that moment (a photo buried somewhere in my archives).....Come to think of it, it was probably one of Petronko's photos (at the time he gave me prints of most of his Fincastle shots).

Ya, whey you capo a banjo down say 2 frets the 5th string needs to be capoed two as well. Possibly he was using Don Reno's banjo that didn't have a way to capo the 5th string. Most people used small nail like metal pieces to do it. I'l love to see a photo of that.
The Rudy Lyle article was in April of 85. Pete had it slated for July, but when he passed away suddenly it was rolled forward and I did an obit with the article.

He was always interested in airplanes. Even when he was working for Bill. "I 've always been liked airplanes Back when I was living down on Boscobel Street, me and Randy Hughes, who was with Cowboy Copas whey they had their accident, learned to fly together. We would go over to Comelia Fort Air Park there in Nashville and go flying."

He bought plane and totally rebuilt it and enjoyed flying.

A couple of years before Pete had asked me to do some writing for BU. He didn't know if I could write or not, but I guess he figured I would do the digging. But I asked who would he want storys about he said "We've had more request for a story on Edd Mayfield more than anyone else and the next one will be Rudy Lyle." It took about 3 years of digging and the Edd Mayfield story finally appeared then I started on Rudy.
I first called him and ask him about it and he went thru this thing "nobody even knows who I am any more....". We talked a while and he asked where I was from and I said Stuart Virginia and that melted the ice since he was from Rocky Mount Va about 50 miles or so away...He invited me down and I made arrangements to go visit him.

I need to put alot of this stuff down, as I am told frequently and reminded all to often by events like Don Lineberger's fire where he died and literally thousands of photos, tapes and great stories went back to where they came.....the air.

There are several of us that need to do some digging and makes sure our "archives" are safe from fire, flood and those who will take care of our things after we are gone that have no idea of what we have.