I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #238

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.

  • May 26, 1953 Charlie and Bill Monroe performed at the First Jimmie Rodgers Day in Meridian, Mississippi.
  • May 26, 1955 Glen Carlton Duncan was born in Columbus, Indiana. *
  • May 26, 1975 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys appeared at the Bluegrass Festival of the United States, Riverfront, Louisville, Kentucky.
  • May 26, 1990 Bill Monroe’s ‘Heart Of Dixie’ Bluegrass Festival took place at the Heart Of Dixie Music Park, Ardmore, near Huntsville, close to the Tennessee – Alabama state border.  **
  • May 26, 2000 The First Annual Blue Grass Boy Reunion took place at The Old Barn, Rosine Station, Rosine, Kentucky. ***
  • May 26, 2001 Dignitaries drove the symbolic first nail to begin work on the restoration of Bill Monroe’s boyhood home in Rosine, Kentucky.

* Glen Duncan replaced Kenny Baker, starting his tenure as a Blue Grass Boy early in 1985 working through to early 1986.

He played at five sessions beginning May 2, 1985 with most of the songs on which he featured being included on the Bill Monroe and Stars of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame LP (MCA 5625), released on August 19, 1985. Other recordings were included on Bluegrass ’87 album (MCA 5970).

Duncan’s parents were both musical and he learned several different instruments while growing up, but settled on the fiddle as his primary instrument. To begin with he played around central and eastern Indiana with Buck’s Stove and Range Company, with the Russell Brothers and his own group Phoenix.

He was a member of the Boys From Indiana for a while and worked with Larry Sparks, Jim & Jesse, the Kendalls, Lonesome Standard Time and others, including the super groups Longview and Rock County.

Duncan started doing session work in Cincinnati, and eventually moved to Nashville where he currently resides.

He has recorded with scores of top country stars including Shania Twain, John Denver, George Strait, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Faith Hill, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Randy Travis, Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, Statler Brothers, Oak Ridge Boys, Jimmy Davis, Hank Snow, Kenny Chesney, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Vince Gill and Patty Loveless.

Duncan has four solo albums under his own name.

Glen Duncan remembers his time as a Blue Grass Boy…

“Columbus is close to Bean Blossom, Indiana; my first memory of seeing a musical performer was seeing Bill Monroe at The Brown County Jamboree in Bean Blossom.

Some of my favorite memories of playing with Bill are all of the recording sessions I did with him, and all of the Opry appearances we did.

Two things immediately come to mind. In 1985 we did the 60th Anniversary of The Grand Ole Opry network TV show. Earl Scruggs came out and played with Bill and us on the TV show.

To stand up there and see those two musical giants; Bill and Earl, two of the most important musicians of the Twentieth Century, playing together again after many years was remarkable.

Another thing that comes to mind is the story behind the tune, Old Brown County Barn. We were getting ready to play the Friday Night Square Dance during the Bean Blossom Festival of June, 1985.

As we were standing in the old Brown County Jamboree Barn where the square dance was getting ready to start, the tune started coming to Bill and he and I stood there and worked on it, and we got it written in time to walk out on stage and play it that night.

Right before we walked out on stage, Bill turned to me and said, ‘What should we call it?’ (the tune).

As I stood there in the very building that had stoked my desire to be a musician; where I first saw Kenny Baker play with Bill Monroe, which inspired me to want to be a fiddle player; where we had just written a new tune that we would record for MCA Records… I immediately said to Bill: ‘We should call it The Old Brown County Barn.’ It was a very surrealistic moment for me, everything had truly come full circle.

I have hundreds of memories of Bill, but my absolute favorites are still just being around Bill. Talking fiddle with him late at night, getting Bill to show me how he played the standard fiddle tunes: Billy In The Low Ground, Soldier’s Joy, Katy Hill, Paddy On The Turnpike, etc. and getting to be around a man who was a true original in every regard.

Bill is one of the hand-full of people who truly changed the musical world, his legacy will outlive us all, and his legend grows with each passing year.

We miss Bill Monroe, but we are so grateful for his musical vision, and thankful that we lived in his time.”

** In addition to Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, bands such as Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys, the Osborne Brothers, the Bluegrass Cardinals, the Wayne Lewis Band and the Warrior River Boys performed at the three day festival.

*** Among the Blue Grass Boys who attended were Eddie Adcock, Frank Buchanan, Jimmy Campbell, Noah Crase, Dwight Dillman, Doug Hutchens, Jake Landers, Wayne Lewis, Art Stamper, Guy Stevenson, Tater Tate and Gordon Terry.

  • Sandy Rothman

    A most enjoyable set of recollections by Glen; he makes it easy to picture what it was like for him to spend those late-night times with Bill and the fiddle tunes he loved so well. I like “The Old Brown County Barn” very much (just as I loved the old barn itself and was very sorry they dismantled it…) and it’s really great to hear the account of how it came to be put together, which was quite a bit the way I imagined it. It’s also neat because to my knowledge it’s Bill’s only instrumental in the key of B, an important vocal key for him. Thanks to Glen for sharing some stories…and Glen, please consider writing more of them down for us someday!