Blue Yodel #6: Ask Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants

Ask Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants appears at odd times in Blue Yodel.

You can post questions or add comments below and we will make sure Mr. BGSP sees them and replies on what he calls the Wonderful World of Webs.

This is his second installment.

Dear Mr. BGSP,



Dear DDIW,



Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

How many pounds of nitrogen should I be using on my lawn?

—Shut-In in Dubuque

Dear Shut-In in Dubuque,

Maintaining the Blue Grass lawn requires 3 to 5 lbs of nitrogen per 1000 square feet annually. The frequency depends on the level of maintenance, but is usually spread over 3 to 4 applications.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

While playing at a local pizza parlor the other night, I started getting messages on my banjo’s tone ring from a planet somewhere in the constellation Cygnus. I was able to transcribe much of it during the break, but I was wondering if you could translate? It appears to be variations on three letters: TIMTMITMTIMITITIMTIMTIMTIMTTIM, etc.

—Hewell, banjo player for the Wayfaring Stranglers at the Astro Bar, downtown Roswell, NM

Dear Hewell,

This is a message from a promoter named Tim who lives on the newly discovered planet Kepler-16b, which orbits in a circle around two suns every 229 days. It’s a frozen world, about the size of Saturn, and is mostly a ball of gas with a rocky interior—really a nice place for a bluegrass festival. Tim would like to hire your band, but wonders if you could play for 175 Kpls this first year to see how the Keplerians like you. Also, it’s 200 light years away, so you might want to look into that helium-3 bus.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

Bill Monroe referred to the banjo as the fifth child of the bluegrass ensemble, yet I can find no citation of Mr. Monroe referring to the resonator guitar as the sixth child.  [Our legal department would like to insist in a whiney voice that the resonator guitar is in no way associated with the Dobro® guitar.] Please clarify.

—Conehead in Oswego

Dear Conehead in Oswego,

WSM never conferred childhood status on the resonator guitar [Our legal department would like to insist in a kind of whiney voice and with increasing agitation that the resonator guitar is in no way associated with the Dobro® guitar]. However, there is an implied legal adoption as the sixth child is traditionally regarded as Saturday’s child, who, in fact, “works hard for a living,” and therefore by due diligence, the resonator guitar [Our legal department would like to insist in a kind of whiney voice, increasing agitation, raising of eyebrows and folding of arms that the resonator guitar is in no way associated with the Dobro© guitar] is now fully accepted as the sixth child.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

Who’s gonna shoe your pretty little feet? Who’s gonna glove your hand?

—Woody and Cisco

Dear Woody and Cisco,

Papa’s gonna shoe my pretty little feet. Mama’s gonna glove my hand.

Or, as on the Wonderful World of Webs: Papas gonna shoot my party will feet. Mamas gonna glub my land.


Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

I’ve read this far and it seems like your column is just a load of carp. Is there anything I can learn here?

—Your reader

Dear reader,

I will occasionally enlist the services of expert professionals in the field of the Blue Grass music to help answer questions. Our guest today is Jon Weisberger—a lifetime member of Chris Jones & the Knife Fighters, and a walking encyclopedia of walking bass.

I did receive a question that I thought required clarification—and an answer. This comes from Bob Singletary in Ontario, California, who writes,

Dear Mr. Blue Grass Smarty Pants,

Who was the first artist to use an electric bass on a Blue Grass recording?

Jon W responds:

Reno & Smiley, January 30, 1953.

[For anyone who can post the name of one of the songs from that session, Mr. BGSP will send you a signed photo of himself reading Neil Rosenberg’s Bluegrass: A History.]

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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.

  • StoneFingers

    30 January 1953 Charlotte, NC
    Don Reno, Red Smiley & The Tennesse Cutups
    (Don Reno [vcl/banjo], Red Smiley [vcl/rh gt], Red Rector [mandolin], Tommy Faile [bass], James “Jimmie” Lunsford [fiddle]. Producer: Arthur Smith)


    Want the rest?

    • StoneFingers

      Gotta love them Wonderful World of Webs!

    • You win! Send your email address to and I’ll send you the photo. Thanks for posting!


  • Stewart Evans

    Jon W. fell for the oldest trick in the book. No one’s ever used electric bass on a bluegrass recording because (all together now) “that ain’t no part of bluegrass”.

  • Elizabeth Loring

    Oh Chris, I forgot how much I have missed your bluegrassy silliness! Reminds me of all the great writings of yours I used to collect back in the earlier days of the BGRASS-L. Good to have it back again. YMMV.

  • Mr. BGSP has declared a tie in the contest with both StoneFingers and Stewart Evans declared winners. The first for accuracy. The second for being funnier than Mr. BGSP. Please send email to and I’ll get your gift to you ASAP!

  • Tony Bentley

    Dear Mr. Bluegrass Smarty Pants,

    Who was Stringbeans tailor early in his career?

    • Excellent question, Tony! I’ll forward it to Mr. BGSP and will have an answer for you in the next installment. Thanks!