I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #142

From October 1, 2010 through to the end of September 2011, we will, each day, celebrate the life of Bill Monroe by sharing information about him and those people who are associated with his life and music career. This information will include births and deaths; recording sessions; single, LP and CD release dates; and other interesting tidbits. Richard F. Thompson is responsible for the research and compilation of this information. We invite readers to share any tidbits, photos or memories you would like us to include.

  • February 19, 1913 Howard Staton Watts, better known by his stage name Cedric Rainwater, was born in Monticello, Florida.  *
  • February 19, 1981 Recording session – Bill Monroe recorded Mellisa’s Waltz for JB, Lady Of The Blue Ridge, My Last Days on Earth and Evening Prayer Blues for the Master of Bluegrass LP. Also working on the evening session at the Music Mill Studio were Norman (Lee) Blake [guitar], Wayne Lewis [guitar], Butch Robins [banjo], Jesse McReynolds [mandolin], Larry Sledge [mandolin], Mark Hembree [bass] and Kenny Baker [fiddle]. The producer was Walter Haynes. **
  • February 19, 2002 CD released – Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys – Live – Volume One (Distributed by Rural Rhythm RHY 1015) ***

* Cedric Rainwater replaced ‘Cousin Wilbur’ Wesbrooks as bass player and comedian with the Blue Grass Boys in 1944, having been introduced to Bill Monroe by Chubby Wise.

He was part of the ‘classic’ line-up that came together late in 1945 and included Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and Wise.

Rainwater left and rejoined the Blue Grass Boys several times between April 1945 and July 1951, but he played on all of Monroe’s recording sessions during this time, singing baritone and bass harmonies, as well as playing bass.

Rainwater assisted during six recording sessions, the last of these in July 1951. He played on such classics as Heavy Traffic Ahead, Little Cabin Home On The Hill, My Rose Of Old Kentucky, Toy Heart, Will You Be Loving Another Man and I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky.

** Bill Monroe [mandolin], Norman Blake [guitar] and Mark Hembree [bass] recorded the basic tracks for the tune My Last Days on Earth, as found on the album Master of Bluegrass (MCA 5214).

Over-dub sessions took place on April 7 – with Norman Blake [guitar], Mark Hembree [bass] and Arlene Hardin, Curtis Young and Cindy Nelson [vocal chorus] – and on April 28 – with the Sheldon Kurland Strings (Carl Gorodetzky, George Binkley III, Marvin D Chantry, Roy Christensen, Conni L Ellisor and Dennis W Molchan).

*** Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys – Live – Volume One; 2-CD set, with 27 tracks, released by Copper Creek and consisting of material recorded at Bean Blossom during the two days June 15 and 16, 1990, by film maker Steve Gebhardt for Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music, available on DVD (MVD Visual MVDV 4577), released on July 8, 2008.

Live – Volume One
is a 2 CD album taken from concerts in June of 1990. The Blue Grass Boys at this time were Tom Ewing, Tater Tate, Blake Williams and Billy Rose (a good band, not a great band). These recordings were captured by a documentary film crew using state of the art equipment. For being relatively late in his career, Monroe is in top form here, both vocally and musically. The material is mostly Monroe standards along with a few lesser-heard titles. There is a nice mix of up-tempo songs, ballads, gospel songs, and instrumentals.

The album comes with an excellent booklet with 18 pages of text by Larry Nager (some of the text refers to material that will be presented in the second volume of this series). There are also many photographs interspersed with the text.

Track listing – Love Please Come Home (Introduction), Willie Moore, Bluegrass Breakdown [Instrumental], Mule Skinner Blues, Kentucky Waltz, Southern Flavor [Instrumental], Old Cross Road, Wheel Hoss [Instrumental], Uncle Pen, Shenandoah Breakdown [Instrumental], It’s Mighty Dark to Travel, Dog House Blues, Rawhide [Instrumental], Watermelon on the Vine, Theme, I’m on My Way Back to the Old Home (Introduction), Take Me Home, Sugar Loaf Mountain [Instrumental], Come Hither to Go Yonder [Instrumental], Cryin’ Holy Unto the Lord, Northern White Clouds [Instrumental], Old, Old House, Tombstone Junction [Instrumental], Take Courage Un’ Tomorrow, Theme, Dusty Miller [Instrumental], Happy Birthday and Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms.

130 songs/instrumentals were recorded altogether and the entire collection is archived in the Country Music Foundation in Nashville and is available for research purposes.

NB Volume Two has never been released as there were difficulties in obtaining permission from some of the artists involved.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.