Ben Eldridge to accept 2015 Monument Award

Ben Eldridge at Gettysburg (August 2012) - photo by Frank BakerForty-four years after he invited some friends over to play music in his Bethesda, MD, basement, Ben Eldridge is on a roll.

Last fall, he and other original members of the Seldom Scene were inducted into IBMA’s bluegrass hall of fame. This Friday, he’ll receive the Washington Monument Award from the DC Bluegrass Union at the organization’s winter festival in Tysons Corner, VA.

Eldridge, the last founding member still in the band, is the third banjo player chosen in the young history of the award. (The others are Bill Emerson and Eddie Adcock.) “There are so many great banjo players that have come from the Washington area, so it’s not a great surprise,” said DCBU President Randy Barrett, himself a picker of the five-string.

“I really cut my teeth sitting in front of the record player, listening to every note he played over and over again,” Barrett said in an interview. “He was THE guy to listen to, combining the three-finger style of Earl Scruggs with the melodic approach of Bill Keith. Ben’s blending of the styles is seamless.”

The Scene headlines Friday night’s festival action, with the Earls of Leicester doing the honors Saturday night. The stellar lineup also features the Grass Cats, the Bankesters, Tim O’Brien, Sierra Hull, Gold Heart and Blue Highway.

Information and tickets are available at

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About the Author

David Morris

David Morris, an award-winning songwriter and journalist, has written for Bluegrass Today since its inception. He joined its predecessor, The Bluegrass Blog, in 2010. His 40-year career in journalism included more than 13 years with The Associated Press, a stint as chief White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, and several top editing jobs in Washington, D.C. He is a life member of IBMA and the DC Bluegrass Union. He and co-writers won the bluegrass category in the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2015.