I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #257

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.

  • June 14, 1949 Robert Wilson ‘Bob’ Black was born in Des Moines, Iowa. *
  • June 14, 1965 LP released – Bluegrass Instrumentals (Decca DL 4601) **
  • June 14, 1989 Recording session – Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys recorded on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, Tennessee.   ***
  • June 14, 1994 The first concert in the ‘Martha White Bluegrass Night At The Ryman’ series of programs was headlined by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, who were supported by Alison Krauss. ****

* Bob Black played banjo for Bill Monroe for two years, from September 20, 1974 to September 19, 1976. He worked four recording sessions during that period. Also, Black participated in two tours of Japan, the first in December 1974 and the other a year later, and the May 1975 tour of parts of Europe.

He helped with the recording of Show Me The Way, Jerusalem Ridge Ashland Breakdown, Farther On, Old, Old House, Thank God For Kentucky and Weary Traveler all of which were included on the Weary Traveler album (MCA 2173), released on January 5, 1976.

Black appears on Birch Monroe’s Atteiram LP (API-L-1516), some of Kenny Baker’s solo albums, notably Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe (County 761), as well as on ‘live’ recordings released by Country Roads (CR-02) and Bear Family Records (BCD 16624).

After leaving the band, he played for several years with Buck White and the Down Home Folks. In recent years Black has played with the Perfect Strangers; Cagley, Black, Schaefer, and Njoes; and as a duo with his wife Kristie.

Black’s book, Come Hither To Go Yonder, (University of Illinois Press, 2005) describes his time with Monroe.

“I believe Bob Black is the best at playing the old-time fiddle numbers of any banjo player.”

Bill Monroe

** Bluegrass Instrumentals, 12 tracks

Track listing – Stoney Lonesome, Sailor’s Hornpipe, Tall Timber, Get Up John, Brown County Breakdown, Panhandle Country, Big Mon, Santa Claus, Scotland, Raw Hide, Monroe’s Hornpipe and Wheel Hoss.

This album marked the first recordings Bill Keith made with Monroe, introducing the new melodic banjo style on Sailor’s Hornpipe and Santa Claus.

(re-issued in 1973 on MCA-104)

*** Some of the songs noted as being recorded on May 5, 1989, were recorded either on this date, on June 13, 1989 or June 27, 1989.

The tracks were released on the album Bill Monroe – Live at the Opry: Celebrating 50 Years on the Grand Ole Opry (MCA Special Products MCAD 42286).  (See I’m Going back to Old Kentucky #217)

**** The 12 concerts were all staged at the recently renovated Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.

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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.