I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #243

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 31, 1929 Connie Gately was born. *
  • May 31, 1941 Julian ‘Winnie’ Winston was born in New York City.  **
  • May 31, 1943 Wayne Shrubsall was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  ***
  • May 31, 1966 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys performed in Bishops Park, Hammersmith, London. Admission to the show was free. ****
  • May 31, 1971 R C Harris played his last date in his first spell as a Blue Grass Boy.
  • May 31, 1993 Video released – Bill Monroe: Father of American Bluegrass (Original Cinema OC-1001). *****

* Connie Gately played guitar with the Blue Grass Boys for a period through from 1958 to 1959.

He did not do any recordings during that time.

Gately performed and recorded with Babe Lofton as Connie & Babe and the Black Mountain Boys – later the Backwoods Boys – with releases for the Republic (also on The Early Days of Bluegrass. Vol. 10 (Rounder)), Starday and the Rounder labels.

He who wrote Roll On Blues and the standard Home is Where the Heart Is.

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

He was not involved in any recording sessions.

*** Wayne Shrubsall filled in on banjo for a show on November 1, 1974.

He is nationally-known banjo player and guitarist who has played with a wide range of artists including Byron Berline, Vassar Clements, Dan Crary, Peter Feldmann, Elliott’s Ramblers, Steve Smith and Hard Road, and the Adobe Brothers string band.

A Ph.D. in American Studies, Shrubsall has written for bluegrass music- and banjo-oriented publications since 1972, and has presented a program focusing on the history of the banjo and banjo styles since 1985.

He has been a participant at numerous folklore workshops, festivals and music events, and has worked on many recordings, notably with Alan Munde on their banjo duet album, Old Friends (Camp Bluegrass Productions), and with Steve Smith’s Hard Road band.

**** This was the first of two dates in London during a nine-gig tour of England, the high point being the show at the Royal Albert Hall in London on June 10.

Accompanying Bill Monroe on this his first tour of the U.K. were Peter Rowan [guitar], Lamar Grier [banjo], Richard Greene [fiddle] and James Monroe [bass].

***** This 90-minute documentary was produced by University of Cincinnati film professor Steve Gebhardt.

Material for this film was shot between June 1990 and September 1991 and includes the recording of four consecutive live shows at Bean Blossom on June 15 and 16, 1990, capturing 56 songs.

Only a fraction of this material was included in the documentary. However, a larger proportion was released as audio tracks on the Copper Creek album Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys Live, Vol. 1 (distributed as RHY-1015 by Rural Rhythm), released on February 19, 2002.

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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.