We all have friends who are trivia experts of some kind, like the historian-types and political junkies who can name Harry Truman’s vice president, or the sports buffs who can spout Jean Ratelle’s assist numbers for the New York Rangers’ 1974-75 season. These people tend to command respect for this knowledge, at least in bars where money changes hands for this kind of thing (or did, before “Google” became a verb).
What about the bluegrass trivia nut? What accolades or tangible benefit is there in knowing Jim and Jesse’s real names (Jim and Jesse)? Aside from being able to clean up at that Bluegrass Routes board game, there doesn’t seem to be much reward for bluegrass geekdom.
That’s why a few years ago, I tried to develop a standardized test (the standardizing is still a work in progress), and a bluegrass knowledge ranking system (called the Bluegrass Knowledge Ranking or “BKR”), with “5” being the best and “1” being a Duran Duran fanatic.
Here, reprinted from that first quiz, is a more detailed explanation of the rankings (slightly revised since 2012):
If you answered 0 questions correctly:
You’re a 1: You know nothing about bluegrass music and don’t care. You just took the quiz because you have a lot of time on your hands, and Hoarders doesn’t come on until 7:00.
You answered 2 or 3 correctly:
You’re a 2. You know next-to-nothing about bluegrass music, but probably have strong opinions about it anyway.
You answered 4 to 5 questions correctly:
You’re a 3: You know a lot about this music, but not enough to be annoying at parties.
You answered 6 questions correctly:
You’re a 4. You’re an expert. You’ve spent a lot of time listening to and absorbing information about bluegrass music. You probably have very few friends and are not very good at basketball.
You answered all questions correctly: you’re not fooling anyone: You’re Neil Rosenberg, congratulations on your Hall of Fame induction, and why did you bother taking this test?
The 2015 test (note: questions gradually increase in difficulty as the test goes on):
1. Before Flatt and Scruggs formed their own band in the late 1940s, they were part of what famous group?
A. The Stanley Brothers
B. Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys
C. The Glenn Miller Orchestra
D. The Brooklyn Dodgers
2. Bill Monroe was called “The Father of Bluegrass.” What does that make James Monroe?
A. “The Brother of Bluegrass”
B. The fifth president of the United States
C. That guy who sang Bonnie.
D. All of the above
3. In the early ’70s movie soundtrack for the movie Deliverance, Dueling Banjos was actually played by . . .
A. Burt Reynolds and Ned Beatty
B. Unidentified scary hillbillies, which is why many still fear the banjo to this day
C. Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell
D. Warren Beatty and Barbara Mandrell
4. The correct spelling of the jockey in the song Molly and Tenbrooks is . . .
C. Kofi Annan
D. You don’t spell it, you just sing it (and someone should tell him he’s not riding right!)
5. In the very last line of the chorus of White Dove, “Mother and Daddy” are said to be what?
D. “Constantly bickering”
6. Who was Mac Magaha?
A. Harry Truman’s vice president
B. Silver medalist for Ireland in shot put in the 1960 Summer Olympics
C. Pioneer of the “Magaha Method” of real estate flipping (now illegal in eight states)
D. Talented fiddler for Reno & Smiley and later Porter Wagoner, known for his animated style on stage.
7. When the band IIIrd Tyme Out was formed, that name was chosen because . . .
A. It had a better ring to it than “Baucom, Bibey, Hartgrove, Deaton, and Moore”
B. For most of their members it was their third time with a nationally touring bluegrass band
C. They knew that someday someone would refer to them as “One hundred and eleven R-D time out” and they’d all have a good laugh about it
D. “The Rolling Stones” was already being used by another band