Happy Birthday Bill Monroe

Ok, so Bill’s birthday isn’t until tomorrow, but that didn’t stop NPR from running the story last night. See this link here for audio and a transcript. The part about Thile getting a quarter is pretty hilarious. But Better yet, I wish they would haven told the story about how he told Sam Bush’s mak-up artist at the Opry to put the scissors to good use, now that is BILL!

Bill Monroe, known as the “Father of Bluegrass Music,” was born 100 years ago this week in rural Kentucky. He influenced early country music and rock ‘n’ roll, as well as the hard-driving, high-lonesome genre he created — bluegrass.

William Smith Monroe was a man of few words, but he opened up to fellow bluegrass musician Alice Gerrard, who recorded him in 1969.

“I was brought up the best way that I could be brought up with what we had to do with,” Monroe said. “I could have had a better education, and I could have had better clothes to wear to school. I could have had a better chance, you know. But if I’d had the best education in the world, I might have not played music.”

It’s a short piece that only scratches the surface of a complex and interesting person who lived a long and full life. I really wish they would have interviewed Mike Compton. The sense I got from him in the few times I’ve met him, was that when Bluegrass was in it’s dark days, Mike was there on Bill’s farm painting the barn and hanging out, being there. There were a select group of people who were there and not in some academic biographer type of mode, but there with him, helping him, being someboy when nobody cared. These folks probably would have a more interesting perspective than, yeah he gave me a quarter one time. Hell, at Bean blossom they used to have line that would form where anyone in the audience could go up on stage to take break with him…

On a related note David Grisman is honoring Old Bill’s birthday with a cool tribute album called Dawg Plays Big Mon. You can download the directly from Acoustic Oasis and preview two tunes here as well. Honestly from looking at the liner notes (available for download here) it looks like a must have. Some of the stuff is previously released but as a collection, it looks pretty top notch with a few of the tunes previously unreleased. There are a few really interesting line ups ont the disc that some, even hardcore bluegrassers, might not be aware of. Like for instance, the track from Jethro and Tiny’s Back to Back with Eldon Shamblin on rhythm guitar, it ain’t Bluegrass but it’s darn good.

Fish Scales at Floyd Fest

It’s been a slow week here at the Fiddle and Creel. Rivers are blown out and we’ve busy doing a bunch of none Bluegrass or fly fishing related things. Extra work, t-ball games that sort of thing. So to fill the void in our lives, here’s a good video of Tony and Dawg playing one of our favorites, Fish Scales at Floyd Fest. Jazzy and fishy and bluegrassy, right in the wheel house, or should I say wheel hoss, of course that’s short for wheel horse, not house, but you know what I mean.

Dawg unveils new Mandola model from Eastman.

In an excellent interview on the Mandolin Cafe David Grisman recently unveiled photos of the new Eastman Mandola prototype (shown above). As someone who doesn’t own a mandola this is a tempting addition to the arsenal, for sure.

Since it would never be a primary tool for me as a player, I could never justify the expense of a high end custom mandola like the Kimble I lusted after at IBMA so many moons ago. So for me an imported Eastman mandola might be just the ticket, especially if it looks as good as those prototype pics appear.

I’m a sucker for those good old Lyon and Healy designs, bring it on!

I suppose I’ll need to figure out where the local Eastman dealers are huh?

Question from Jim MacDaniel: Thank you for all of the music you’ve shared with us over the years, and for inspiring many of us (myself included) to learn the mandolin. I also want to thank you for Corrado Giacomel’s J5 design into the realm of affordability for many of us, through your partnership with Corrado and Eastman—and we also loved the Eastman revival of the Bacon. On this latter note, is there anything new on the drawing board that you can share with us now?

David Grisman: As you may already know Jim, the next model in the Dawg Collection Series is a replica of the Lyon & Healy Style A mandola, an incredible design that hasn’t been produced for 80+ years! This has taken a bit longer as Eastman recently moved their USA offices from Maryland to California. I recently approved the 2nd prototype (with a slightly more acute neck angle and slimmer neck profile) and production has begun on these models. I’m very pleased with their attention to detail and willingness to build instruments that are different than the norm and reasonably priced. Other models are on the drawing boards and I’ll let Scott know about them as they near completion. No F-5s though, I’m avoiding the fray.

New Photos of Crusher?

I found some cool photos of David Grisman’s Loar on the Mandolin Archive. I’m not sure if these are new or not, but I think they are new to the archive at least. Last time I saw Dawg play I think he just had electrical tape over the logo. Since then it looks like he found a little dog to put over that, which is pretty cool, I guess? The custom truss rod is a nice touch too. Overall these are great shots of a great mandolin, signed and dated by Lloyd Loar December 20, 1922.

Vintage Mandolin World News

I saw an ad on the Mandolin Cafe for some vintage back issues of Mandolin World News. This is a rare chance to own a piece of mandolin history. If I didn’t already own the entire collection myself I would snapping up a copy of each that is available. Other than the astounding level of musical information contained my favorite “human interest” part of these is the letter from a young Tony Williamson to the Dawg himself proclaiming the virtues of the publication and asking for subscription renewal, priceless. From Dix Bruce’s website

Vintage Mandolin World News Publications
We recently acquired a box of vintage Mandolin World News publications. They were owned by a Mandolin World News staff member and have been in storage for many years.

They include copies of Mandolin World News, David Grisman’s two instructional books (Ten Tunes in Nine Keys, Bluegrass Solos) and one Mandolin World Catalog from 1977. Some are in great shape, others worn or somewhat the worse for wear. All are sized 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. All are out of print and no longer available in this original, printed form.

The collection is not complete and several issues are missing altogether. Those that we have are in short supply: most include only one or two copies. They’ll be sold individually on a first come-first served basis.

Mandolin World News was published, beginning in 1976, by David Grisman, Todd Phillips, and Darol Anger, founding members of the ground-breaking David Grisman Quintet. It ceased publication in 1984 after 31 issues. Each was packed to the staples with valuable information on every aspect of the mandolin and mandolin playing in all styles, all over the world.

The current lot includes a few copies of David Grisman’s very rare instructional books Ten Tunes in Nine Keys and Bluegrass Solos. Both are from a late 1970s/early 1980s reprint of the original mid-1970s books and are sized 8 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. Most copies are in quite good shape except for rusty staples, especially on the Bluegrass Solos books. As far as we know, these have not been available anywhere for nearly twenty five years. We still offer photocopies of all 31 back issues of Mandolin World News — not to be confused with these originals — on our regular website: http://www.musixnow.com.