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 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... 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).
but this was the last show I played with Bill Monroe as a Blue Grass Boy. Photo courtesy Artie Rose's Bluegrass Photos!/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.