I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #154

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.

  • March 3, 1904 Mack McGar was born. *
  • March 3, 1923 Arthel Lane ‘Doc’ Watson was born in Stoney Fork, near Deep Gap, Watauga County, North Carolina. **
  • March 3, 1974 Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys made a personal appearance to play at the NYU University Law School Auditorium, 40 Washington Square South, New York City.
  • March 3, 1992 Recording for video – Bill Monroe [mandolin and guitar], with John Hartford and the Blue Grass Boys, recorded a mandolin video session for Homespun Tapes. The Blue Grass Boys assisting were Tom Ewing [guitar], Dana Cupp [banjo] , Jimmy Campbell [fiddle] and Tater Tate [bass]. ***

* McGar is recorded as an unconfirmed fill-in fiddle player in 1940.

** Flatpick guitar legend, Doc Watson, often did a few Monroe Brothers’ songs with Bill Monroe when the two worked at the same festival. In 1993 Smithsonian Folkways Records released a CD of 17 Monroe/Watson duets. [Bill Monroe and Doc Watson Live Duet Recordings 1963-1980, Off the Record Volume 2, SF CD 40064].

Watson is a seven-time Grammy winner with eclectic tastes in music. He is equally adept playing the blues, bluegrass, country and folk music, flat-picking or finger-picking and just as comfortable playing an electric guitar as he is an acoustic instrument.

His career was boosted by his discovery by folklorist Ralph Rinzler while Watson was working with Clarence ‘Tom’ Ashley. Participation in the recording of Will the Circle Be Unbroken in 1972 led to even wider recognition and more acclaim.

From 1964 through to 1985 he played and recorded with his son Merle, touring extensively.

Watson was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1997 and in 2000 he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

*** Recordings from the session at Imagemaker Productions video studio in Nashville were included on the 90-minute instructional video The Mandolin of Bill Monroe – DVD 1 (Homespun Tapes DVD MON- MN21).

The father of bluegrass music demonstrates the amazing mandolin technique and repertoire that have made him world famous.

List of recordings – Rawhide, Wheel Hoss, Muleskinner Blues, Tennessee Blues, Dusty Miller, Roanoke, I’m On My Way Back to the Old Home, Pike County Breakdown, Get Up John, Katie Hill, Memories of Mother and Dad, Rocky Road Blues, My Last Days on Earth, My Sweet Blue Eyed Darlin’, Poor White Folks, Frog On A Lily Pad, Galley Nipper, Sally Goodin’, Jenny Lynn, Smokey Mountain Schottische, Ozark Rag, Slow And Easy Blues, Tombstone Junction, Kentucky Waltz, Southern Flavor, Blue Grass Breakdown, Lonesome Moonlight Waltz, I’m On My Way Back to the Old Home, Never Leave the “A” String and Old Joe Clark.

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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.