Blue Yodel #2: Ask Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

Ask Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants will appear at odd times in the Blue Yodel column. Please send questions and comments to for possible use.

Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

When was the Blue Grass music discovered and what was it doing before that?

—Curious in Georgia

Dear Curious in Georgia,

The Blue Grass music was discovered in 1919 by Mel Crick, a neighbor of Bill Monroe’s who wandered over one day as the 8-year-old Monroe was creating his first band from a lump of clay. Crick was heard to say, “I hereby discover the Blue Grass music,” whereupon Monroe turned him into a horny toad and then a bass player. Before being discovered, the Blue Grass music was living a quiet life as an insurance adjuster in Ellenberg Depot, New York.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

I have heard it said that the darkest hour is just before dawn. Well, that seemed easily tested, so last night I began taking light meter measurements every 10 minutes until the sun came up. I would like to report that the darkest hour is not before dawn, but in fact, is as you may have guessed between 2:34 and 3:34 am. Is there an online form to request an official change to bluegrass songs? I think the song should now sing, “The darkest hour is between 2:34 and 3:34 am CDT.”

P.S. I will need two forms. I just confirmed that the Matterhorn cannot be seen from Berne.

—Dr. Armrest Protector

Dear Dr. Armrest Protector,

According to Article IV, Section 2.5.8 of the Blue Grass Code, before making changes to bluegrass songs, you must obtain an artistic license, which you may pick up after you get a life.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

How many fingers does it take to play “Earl’s Breakdown”?

—Capoless in Calhoun

Dear Capoless in Calhoun,

This is a trick question, but I’m ready for you. Eight fingers and two thumbs, not necessarily opposable.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

Last year I made $348.23 playing the Blue Grass Music. Can I quit now?

—Tens of Dollars in Dallas

Dear Tens of Dollars in Dallas,

No, there is no quitting the Blue Grass music. I know players who owe thousands of dollars, yet they keep playing. Yes, as John Duffey said, “People die of exposure,” but at least they first get to showcase in front of random people who walked into the room looking for a place to sit down and finish their Sudoku puzzles.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

If Bluegrass Band A’s bus is traveling west at a rate of 65 mph and Bluegrass Band B’s bus is traveling east at a rate of 63 mph, which band will be the first to record Rick Astley’s 80s hit, Never Gonna Give You Up?

—Rickrolled in Rochester

Dear Rickrolled in Rochester,

As a huge fan of taking mediocre rock songs and turning them into bluegrass classics, I have to commend your prescience, if not your pauciloquence, in confirming a long-standing rumor that Blue Grass Band A and Blue Grass Band B are indeed forming a Blue Grass supergroup called [unpronounceable, invisible, and diesel-smelling icon].


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

I have an XB-3 Gibson Granada, 1937 with a Carl Frobee tone ring, 3/8 bridge, .0035 flange, Brazilian Dodo bird inlay, MacoPurled 3.14159 string coolers and overhead cam twin-diesel auto-tuners, and yet I can’t play a forward roll. What should I do?

—That Guy

Dear That Guy,

I’m sorry, I fell asleep during your question. Did I run into you at a jam session last Tuesday?


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

I sing lead in our local acapella bluegrass group, No Strings Attached. The baritone singer will occasionally double my notes. I give him the look, but he’s not catching on. What’s my next move?

—Frustrated in Fresno

Dear Frustrated in Fresno,

You have grounds for legal action. In Simon v. Garfunkel (1970), it was established that baritone singers are not protected from interstate transportation of bad taste and are required to always “find a different note from the other two harmony parts.” This may be interpreted in a number of ways, and often is, but in essence it allows you to take remove all his consonants in as painful a manner as possible. Hope this helps.

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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 On Tuesdays you can find him having fish tacos at Roberto’s in Del Mar.