Blue Yodel #32 – Ask Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

Guest Trivia Master – Matt Glaser

This month’s guest is a big shot fiddle player, who—it says on his bio—was originally inspired to play fiddle from “watching a corn chip commercial.” Come on, I mean, it was Fritos, right Matt? You were inspired by Fritos. Okay, not Fritos, but the music in the background. So you asked for a fiddle and then you locked yourself in your room until Yo Yo Ma, Ralph Stanley, Bob Dylan, and Stephan Grappelli all agreed to play with you at Carnegie Hall, then you started practicing.

Sorry, I know you paid me a lot of money to write your bio and I’m off to a bad start, but I have that flushed feeling when I see someone clearly at the top of his game while I am left to assemble this gas grill of my life. But back to you.

Artistic Director, American Roots Music Program, Berklee College of Music…yadda yadda…25 years as chair of the string department at Berklee…yadda yadda…(By the way, Matt, you might want to tell them they misspelled Berkeley.) Featured on award-winning films, The Civil War and King of the Gypsies…yadda yadda…appeared as a narrator on Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary…yadda yadda…played in the Wayfaring Strangers with Tony Trischka, the New York Bluegrass All-Stars, Fiddle Fever…

He also happens to be a master bluegrass and jazz fiddler, respected teacher, and fiddle trivia champ. Matt sent along these questions about the fiddle, or as they call it at Berklee—the fiddle.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Matt Glaser asks:

1) What well-known bluegrass fiddler earned a PhD in electrical engineering at Columbia University with his dissertation Properties of High-Pass Signals (1965)?

2) What is that fiddler’s real first name?

3) What fiddler said, “When you are playing bluegrass fiddle you are on a line between jazz and . . . bluegrass”?

Prize!

The first one to answer all three questions correctly will receive either a four-year full-ride scholarship to the Berklee College of Music or a Wayfaring Strangers CD signed by Matt Glaser—whichever is closest to $14.99.

Matt also had a few questions for Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants:

Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

Is it “It’s pleasant there, no doubt” or “It’s pleasant, there’s no doubt”?

—Matt Glaser in Somerville, MA

Dear Matt,

You’re referring, of course, to the line in Bill Monroe’s Footprints in the Snow in which he intentionally leaves room for interpretation, as all Zen masters do. I would say the latter is right, but it would make a good question for oral exams at Berklee. Also, the murder mystery in the song has never been solved.

—Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

 

Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

I need to have my Curly Ray Cline keychain repaired…Home Depot?

—Matt Glaser in Somerville, MA

Dear Matt,

It depends on the nature of the problem, but most Curly Ray Cline keychains I’ve seen are simply scratched up and need to be polished with a good plastic or metal cleaner. You should never keep keys on a Curly Ray Cline keychain. I have a personal stash of 50 (all bought for $1 each from Curly Ray) in a lock box waiting for the price on eBay to hit $10,000 each.

—Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

 

You Can Make This Stuff Up

Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

I just got the new bluegrass shooter game Call of Bluegrass Duty V: Revenge of the Porta-Potties and I can’t seem to get past level 12 where Larry Sparks comes out of a tour bus with an M249-Para and blasts away at some dancing jamgrassers. I always seem to get caught in the cross fire from the Del McCoury Band. Suggestions?

—Dwayne in Great Falls

Dear Dwayne,

On the 11th level where you pass the festival vendors you need to get the funnel cakes and the blooming onions, plus four tickets to DelFest. This will get you past the Del McCoury band, but you’ll still need to deal with Sparks. Hint: the keys to the John Deere Tractor are under the record table.

—Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

 

Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

Lately I can’t seem to stop counting the floral arrangements on my wallpaper and watching Captain Kangaroo. What’s wrong with me?

—Randy, Class of ‘57

Dear Randy,

This usually results from having fallen asleep with a repeating loop on the Dailey & Vincent Sing the Statler Brothers CD version of Flowers on the Wall. Other symptoms include playing solitaire till dawn with a deck of 51 and trying to sing the bass part to everything. There’s no real cure except to go to Cracker Barrel where they have a special sweet tea that will erase the song from your brain.

—Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

 

Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

I’m writing a script for an HBO movie about a vampire who joins a bluegrass band and goes around the country terrorizing festivals. Lots of blood, gore, and bluegrass. It should be a hit. My question is, are there any bluegrass songs about vampires?

—Vlad in LA

Dear Vlad,

Hmmm. Zombies, yes. In fact, most bluegrass songs are about zombies, but I can only think of a few vampire songs—Poison Love, Remember the Cross, and Who’s That Knockin’ At My Window come to mind. No, sorry, the last one is about zombies again.

—Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

 

Be sure to take a guess at Matt Glaser’s questions above and let us know of any questions you may have, real or imagined. See you next time and remember:

Keep your Smarty Pants On!

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About the Author

Chris Stuart

Chris Stuart is a writer and songwriter living in San Diego. He was the 2008 recipient of the IBMA Print Media Person of the Year award, co-writer of the 2009 IBMA Song of the Year, and past winner of the Merlefest Chris Austin Songwriting contest in bluegrass and gospel categories. You can follow him on Twitter @cvstuart, on Facebook, and at www.chrisstuart.com. On Tuesdays you can find him having fish tacos at Roberto’s in Del Mar.

  • Brennen P. Ernst

    Let’s see…

    #1 is Tex Logan!

    #2 I think his first name(s) were Benjamin Franklin?

    #3 I think is Benny Martin.

    • Hey Brennen,

      Congratulations! You were the first one in with all three correct answers! If you could send me your mailing address privately I’ll make sure you get the signed Wayfaring Strangers CD.

      Thanks for playing!

      —Mr Blue Grass Smarty Pants

      • Brennen P. Ernst

        Thank you, Chris! I’m new here — How do I send a private message? Do I have to “friend” you first?

        73, Brennen

  • Dick Bowden

    Well I knew about Tex “Benjamin” Logan, but I can’t answer #3, the wise phrasing sounds like something Bill Monroe would have said.

    But I do know the answer to Matt’s Question #1, OBVIOUSLY the correct line is “it’s pleasant there no doubt”, referring to the “meadow green”. It’s pleasant there in the meadow green. Duh…

    As for cleaning up a Curly Ray Cline keychain, don’t do it! They’re like old guns and musical instruments — every scar, scrape and ding tells a story. To quote the late Carlton Haney, “the Blue Grass STO-ree”.

    • Stewart Evans

      I must disagree, it’s not the meadow green that is pleasant, but the act of strolling therein. Well, the meadow is probably pleasant too – it wouldn’t be too pleasant to stroll through, say, a stinking bog.

      Now I’ve spent too much time thinking about that phrases and it’s starting to sound like an advertising slogan in my head…

      STROLLING THROUGH THE MEADOW GREEN
      It’s Pleasant
      There’s No Doubt!!

  • Stewart Evans

    Oh, and I agree on Benjamin “Tex” Logan for the first two. I’m just guessing on the third but it sounds like something Stacy Phillips might have said.

  • Amy Beth Hale

    Well, I think everyone’s already got the right answers to the first two questions…Tex and Benjamin. My guess, I mean answer, for the third question is Vassar Clements.