I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #184

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.

  • April 2, 1960 Paul Squyres was born in San Antonio, Texas. *
  • April 2, 1965 Jerry McCoury filled in, playing bass, with the Blue Grass Boys.   **
  • April 2, 1965 ‘Winnie’ Winston filled in, playing banjo, with the Blue Grass Boys.   ***
  • April 2, 1967 Myles Sonka filled in for the guitar player in the Blue Grass Boys. ****

* ‘Too Tall’ Paul Squyres is a versatile musician who has played extensively in northern California with bluegrass, jazz, and blues projects.

As well as working with the Sacramento Bluegrass Allstars, he played and recorded with Bob Black (Banjoy) and Jim Moss (playing bass on the LP Through the Windshield and guitar on Sleeping Lady).

Squyres also played with Frank Wakefield briefly in the mid-1990s, before going on to lead his own band, the Tall Timber Boys, between 1996 and 2001.

** Jerry McCoury became the second member of McCoury family to play for Bill Monroe, following his older brother Del, who was a Blue Grass Boy for about a year starting in February 1963.

*** Raised in the east Bronx, New York City, Winston the pioneer banjo picker played a short stint with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys in 1965.

**** After sitting-in with the Blue Grass Boys on March 25, 1967, Sonka covers for the absent guitar player.

Paul Squyres shares his recollections of working for Bill Monroe and the circumstances surrounding the event ……

“I played one concert with Bill Monroe at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco, California.

I was playing in a local band called Bluegrass One, which was a very traditional Monroe-style band.  Our fiddler, Jim Moss, knew Monroe through Kenny Baker. The Blue Grass Boys were playing a series of shows in the western U.S. and were going to Japan after their West Coast gigs. Somewhere along the line, Monroe and Baker had a falling out and Baker left the band.

The bass player at the time was Tater Tate, who is also an accomplished fiddler. So when Baker left the tour, Tate assumed the fiddle responsibilities and Bill just picked up local bass players. I’ve heard that there was at least one other performance where they picked up a local musician to play bass during this tour. I’m not sure what they did while in Japan.

The concert was great. Of course, I knew about half the people in the audience. We played Bluegrass Stomp and Bill let me take a bass solo, which got a huge response from the audience (all my friends).  That concert was obviously the highpoint of my bluegrass career.”

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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.