Sad news: Bluegrass loses another great, banjo player Dale Vanderpool, a good friend.

We lost another great one, one of the greats that I was lucky to call a friend.

Dale Vanderpool lost his long battle with cancer last night.

I am eternally grateful for his generosity in taking me under his wing and showing me what REAL bluegrass is all about. I knew I had arrived in the Columbus Bluegrass scene when I got a call from Dale to come over and jam.

I was as nervous as a guy could be to go jam with his crew, but he made feel right at home and we banged out a bunch of great tunes. Like in golf you tend to play up (or down) to the level of those around you they all elevated me to a new level entirely. After a few living room jams he asked me to play in his band at a few shows, and he didn’t ask many people to do that, so I was stoked. That’s when I knew had really gone from a parking lot picker to a stage dwelling, card carrying member of the Bluegrass Police.

Dale was generous, kind, humble, opinionated, sharp witted, quiet, and note perfect – pretty much all the time. Dale was Dale for every person, no matter who you were.

One time, an older lady walked in the Bluegrass shop where Dale worked carrying a 1930s Gisbon Granada Banjo worth more than most people’s houses and did Dale ask to buy for a few thousand doallrs, which the lady would have been happy with? No, he told her it’s real value and helped her get a life-altering amount of money for it.

Another time I was hanging out in the shop when George Clinton walked in. Yes, that George Clinton, the one from P-funk… yeah. It was only slightly awkward, but Dale was a cool as he was to any hardcore Bluegrasser and we laughed and joked and had a really nice time talking to George about music.

Here’s a good video of Dale playing Train 45 with Don Rigsby and JD Crowe among others. Dale takes the second banjo break. He makes that shit look so effortless… we should all add a little bit of that to our style.

Please keep Anita, and his whole family in your prayers.

For a trip back in time to July 14th, 2009, the first post on this blog featured me playing a show with Mr Vanderpool.

Fundraiser a Success, raises $20,000

I was fortunate to be able to attend the fund raiser on Sunday for my friend Dale Vanderpool and fellow bluegrasser Gerald Evans. The turnout was amazing. There were 800 people already through the door when I arrived and more streamed in as the show went on. By the end of the Grascals set it was standing room only, a real testament to dedication and support within Bluegrass community. The music was, as you might expect, exceptional, with plenty of interplay between bands. I was thrilled to see that Dale felt well enough to play with Don Rigsby and he sounded as good as ever.

The official press release is below.

A little snowy weather and a busy Holiday season did not hinder the success of a special Appreciation Concert this past weekend, benefiting fiddler and songwriter Gerald Evans, Jr. and banjo player Dale Vanderpool. Both are fighting cancer.

Sunday, bluegrass fans from the Ohio and Kentucky area packed the Roberts Convention Centre in Wilmington, Ohio. With an all-star lineup of bands and special guests, nearly $20,000 was raised. Special thanks to all of the following performers and contributors:

Lost and Found, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, Blue and Lonesome, Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain, Don Rigsby and Midnight Call, the Grascals, the Wildwood Valley Boys, J.D. Crowe and the New South, the Larry Stephenson Band, Sonny Osborne, Mark Rader, Larry Cordle, Dwayne Sparks, Darrell Adkins and the staff of the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer Bluegrass Classic, the staff and volunteers of the Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival and WBZI Radio.

Many other members of the national Bluegrass community sent donations as well.

It was truly a special day for two talented gentlemen who remain in our thoughts and prayers this Christmas season.

Joe Mullins would like to sincerely thank all contributors for their support and generosity.

Yours truly on mando with Dale Vanderpool and Friends earlier this year in Goodale Park