I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky #19

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.

  • October 19, 1889 Arthur Edward ‘Art’ Satherley born Bristol, England. Satherley was the producer for all the recordings for Columbia by what is known as the ’classic’ version of the Blue Grass Boys. *
  • October 19, 1929 Johnny Vipperman born. Vipperman was the guitar player for Bill Monroe a brief period in June 1951.
  • October 19, 1938 Victor Howard ‘Vic’ Jordan born, Washington DC. Jordan made his debut as a Blue Grass Boy in July 1967.  He recorded nine tracks, playing banjo, participating in three recording sessions during his tenure of 18 months. They cut five instrumentals including The Gold Rush and Crossing The Cumberlands, plus Walls Of Time. Jordan also played with Jimmy Martin, Jim & Jesse and Lester Flatt’s Nashville Grass and released a seminal album under his own name, Pickaway, in 1973. **

* Satherley emigrated to the USA at the age of 24, initially settling in Wisconsin, where he worked in a factory grading lumber for the Wisconsin Chair Company in Port Washington, Wisconsin. After a chequered career involving working for various music companies, in 1938 he became Columbia Records’ country and race music A&R chief.

He supervised the recording of all of Monroe’s Columbia recordings beginning in February 1945 and ending in October 1949. During that period Monroe set the standard for others to follow with the recording of classic songs such as Kentucky Waltz, True Life Blues, Goodbye Old Pal, Footprints In the Snow, I’ll Have A New Life, Blue Grass Special, Heavy Traffic Ahead, Molly & Tenbrooks (The Race Horse Song), the original version of Blue Moon of Kentucky, Toy Heart, My Rose Of Old Kentucky, Blue Grass Breakdown, I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky, Wicked Path Of Sin, Summertime Is Past and Gone, Little Cabin Home On The Hill, Can’t You Hear Me Callin’, Travelin’ The Lonesome Road, The Girl With The Blue Velvet Band and Blue Grass Stomp.

Satherley signed and worked with the Stanley Brothers and four bluegrass-related acts, the Bailes Brothers, Molly O’Day and former Blue Grass Boy, Clyde Moody, and Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.

Also, he was responsible for a considerable number of great country music recordings from the likes of Pickard Family, Carson Robison, Vernon Dalhart, the Allen Brothers, the Callahan Brothers, Cliff & Bill Carlisle, Doc Roberts, Asa Martin, Al Dexter, Hank Penny, Tex Ritter, Red Foley, George Morgan, Spade Cooley, Ted Daffan, Johnny Bond, the Chuck Wagon Gang, Roy Acuff, Gene Autry, Bob Wills, Patsy Montana, Lefty Frizzell, Carl Smith and Marty Robbins.

Satherley retired from Columbia Records in 1952, having reached the position of vice president, but continued his involvement in occasionally got involved in projects about which he was passionate.

He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame Nashville in 1971.

** Jordan was a very influential banjo player in the 1970s when the melodic style was coming into its own. He was noted for his scalar approach, often using long runs of descending or ascending major thirds, much like his friend and contemporary Bobby Thompson.

Pickaway is a fine showcase for his approach to the banjo, including a nuber of popular fiddle tunes, and the title track, one he wrote in a Scruggs-style which became a banjo standard of the day, and was later famously recorded by Mike Auldridge. The album is no longer in print, but can be downloaded from SoundsBox or TunesPro.

Every serious banjo player or fan should have this one in their collection.

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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.