For anyone who did not catch the article in ’04 – especially those who do not recognize the name of this important voice in the development of contemporary bluegrass – this fine piece by Steve Romanoski is worth a few minutes of your time.
Steve has written for Bluegrass Music News since 1977 and also has had articles published in Bluegrass Music Profiles, Sing Out, Acoustic Guitar, The Chicago Sun-Times, Bluegrass Now, and Fiddler. He is a songwriter as well, and teaches private music lessons in the Chicago area.
His Waldron article is based on an interview he did with Cliff, and it includes some insights into what has become one of the most popular bluegrass songs ever recorded – one with which many performers have a love/hate relationship.
Over the years, the punchy rhythmic introduction to “Fox On The Run” has become a virtual call to arms in the bluegrass community, And, while the tune will be forever linked to the classic Country Gentlemen ensemble of the early 1970s, another Washington DC based band was responsible for the song’s introduction to bluegrass. That band was simply called Emerson & Waldron.
Both Cliff Waldron and Bill Emerson were immersed in the progressive leanings of the northern Virginia bluegrass scene and actively brought material from different genres for the band to play. Waldron remembers how “Fox On The Run” was introduced to the world of bluegrass, “Bill was the first one to hear it,” he says, “and he played it for me and wondered if we could work it out. I was up for doing new material at this time and thought that we could give it a try. I had done Stanley’s and Flatt & Scruggs songs. I wasn’t sick of them, but I was tired of doing it myself. I wanted to do on my own; something that I could put a name to it myself instead of doing somebody else’s stuff all the time.” And Cliff found true inspiration from the realization that “he’d (Emerson) heard this song and thought that we could do something with it.” Little did either player know that this song, originally performed by the English rock band Manfred Mann, would become an anthem of the ages in bluegrass music.
An audio sample from Emerson & Waldron’s original recording of Fox On The Run can be heard on Cliff’s web site.