I first met Butch in Las Vegas around 1979. We were both in the gaming business. Butch was a crap dealer at the MGM Grand, and I worked for the casino surveillance department of the Hilton. I had just transplanted from Ashland, PA and wanted to find a place to play and learn bluegrass. I was a beginning banjo picker. What I found was the monthly jam picnics of the Nevada Bluegrass Association – and Butch. Butch would usually pick with the more experienced players, but would always find time to pick with me. The tune that he liked to play was “Big Mon”. Also, as both of us were from the “anthracite coal regions” of PA, he would share his advice on to how to understand, live, and survive in Vegas (the do’s and the don’ts). Through him, and another guy by the name of Don Lanning, I met the real down to earth people of sin city. Mike Bub was there too, but I did not get to know him well.
Later, I move back to PA. I went to a Weary Hearts concert at the Seven Mountains Bluegrass Association (around Harrisburg, PA). Butch was on his way up! I bought an album and ask him to autograph the cover. He laughed and looked at me as if I were crazy and said something like “this will be a collectors item someday”. I still have the album Butch. And yes – it is a collectors item.
Say hello to “Big Mon”. God bless and keep you.
An old friend,