I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #271

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 28, 1887 Ten Broeck died one day short of his 15th birthday. The horse is buried at the farm where he was foaled, approximately 1.5 miles south of Midway, Kentucky.  *
  • June 28, 1970 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys made a personal appearance at the Big Bluegrass Show, Frontier Ranch, near Columbus, Ohio.
  • June 28, 1974 Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys appeared at the Lester Flatt’s 1974 Second Annual Mount Pilot Festival, Jomeokee Campground, Pinnacle, North Carolina.
  • June 28, 1980 Culley Holt died. **
  • June 28, 2000 CD released – Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys – Blue Moon of Kentucky (Country Stars CTS 55461 – Not to be confused with the Bear Family box set and the Sony set of the same name) ***

* Ten Broeck, more familiarly Tenbrooks, was the ‘big bay horse’ that out-raced Mollie McCarty, the California mare, in a race over four miles at the Kentucky Derby racetrack, Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky, on July 4, 1878.

He is commemorated in song by Bill Monroe, who formally first recorded Molly and Tenbrooks (aka The Racehorse Song) on October 28, 1947.

The Stanley Brothers recorded it later (in 1948), having learned the song direct from Monroe’s radio show performances. Their recording was an exact copy of the Monroe arrangement and was released first – on the Rich-R-Tone label – annoying Monroe somewhat.

In his autobiography, Man Of Constant Sorrow, Ralph Stanley describes how he, Carter and their band would attend shows by other popular artists, with each man assigned to write down the words to a predetermined section of a given song. In this way they were able to beat Monroe to recording Molly and Tenbrooks.

The brothers took Monroe’s nascent sound and propelled the music into a style and eventually a genre.

All in the name of two horses!

** Culley Holt was a member of the Jordanaires from 1948 through to 1954, from which date he went freelance.

Bill Monroe first called on Holt to sing bass on the session of March 19, 1958, during which they recorded Precious Memories, I’ll Meet You in the Morning and Life’s Railway to Heaven.

He is known to have sung at six other sessions although there are suggestions that he also sang bass on Angels Rock Me to Sleep, recorded on March 17, 1951.

Later he added bass vocals to songs by Flatt & Scruggs, most notably to several Elvis Presley recordings, and to some by Johnnie & Jack, and Jim Reeves.

*** Blue Moon of Kentucky, 25 tracks

Track listing – Dog House Blues, Katy Hill, Orange Blossom Special, In the Pines, Honky Tonk Swing, Kentucky Waltz, Rocky Road Blues, Blue Grass Special, Footprints in the Snow, Mother’s Only Sleeping, Blue Moon of Kentucky, Heavy Traffic Ahead, Toy Heart, Blue Yodel No. 4, Will You Be Loving Another Man? Wicked Path of Sin, My Rose of Old Kentucky, I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling, Little Cabin Home on the Hill, Bluegrass Breakdown, Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong, Little Community Church, When You Are Lonely, Molly and Tenbrooks and Travelin’ This Lonesome Road.

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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.