Although we certainly have stars in bluegrass music, there’s really more of a feeling of community – shared between fans, musicians (professional and amateur alike), and other folks within the industry – that many other musical genres do not enjoy. It’s not every day that a regular Joe can mix and mingle with their favorite artist, but in bluegrass, it’s not just possible but a regular occurrence. Dennis Jones, one of bluegrass music’s most well-known broadcasters, says that this aspect of bluegrass is one of his favorites.
Since he began working as a volunteer at western North Carolina’s WNCW twenty-one years ago, Jones says that the bluegrass world has reached out and embraced him. “The bluegrass community has welcomed me and treats me as a friend,” he says. “In fact, many of my musical heroes now call me friend or brother.”
Jones first got into radio thanks to a background in audio engineering. A native of Boiling Springs, North Carolina, he started out at WNCW just helping answer phones and other tasks around the station. However, once the station’s management learned about his longtime love of bluegrass, they put him on the air. Since 1995, he’s worked on WNCW’s Saturday bluegrass show, Goin’ Across the Mountain, and he also hosts the Sunday morning program The Gospel Truth. His hosting duties have led to several award nominations over the years, including Bluegrass DJ of the Year by both IBMA and SPBGMA.
“I’ve been given the incredible opportunity to live a dream many others try all their lives to achieve,” he says. “I’m deeply humbled by all this and thank God every day for this blessing.”
We recently had the chance to ask Jones about his thoughts on bluegrass music. Here’s what he had to say.
How would you define bluegrass music as a genre?
“The template was laid in 1946-47 by Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise, Howard, and Earl Scruggs. Bluegrass music has to have the 5-string banjo played in the ‘really two fingers and a thumb… you know…’ quote Earl… syncopated Scruggs style. Tight harmony singing, be it duos, trios, or quartets with the drive and feel of the High Lonesome. The music is melody driven and has a rhythm that closely matches the heartbeat.”
What form of bluegrass do you most enjoy?
“All of these except ‘Progressive,’ whatever that noise is.”
What bands do you consider examples of the form you most enjoy?
“The Boxcars, Balsam Range, Seldom Scene, Rhonda Vincent, Mountain Faith, Doyle Lawson, Audie Blaylock, Frank Solivan, Unspoken Tradition, Detour, Missy Werner, James King, Larry Sparks, Lou Reid and Carolina… so many.”
If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, which one would it be?
“Flatt and Scruggs at Carnegie Hall. It’s perfect.”
What album is currently in your car stereo?
“Studio mixes. I’m making three CDs at one time.”
Artists who are interested in sending their music to Jones for airplay consideration can mail CDs to him at:
PO Box 804
Spindale, NC 28160
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