I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #276

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.

  • July 3 1957 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys began a summer-fall tent-show tour. *
  • July 3, 1969 Bill Monroe joined his brothers, Charlie and Birch, for a rare re-union performance at the 3rd Annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival held on The Mall in Washington DC.
  • July 3, 1981 Butch Robins played his final date with the Blue Grass Boys.
  • July 3, 1982 Bill Monroe received the Annual National Heritage Fellowship Award made by the National Endowment For The Arts. The presentation took place in Washington DC. **

* The tour started at Fayette County Fair, Brownstown, Illinois, and continued with further appearances in Kentucky, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, North Dakota, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana, with the final show taking place on October 11/12 at the Bossier-Webster Fair, Minden, Louisiana.

One of the supporting acts, Jack Paget, christened Uncle Hiram by comedienne Minnie Pearl, “played bass and did some comedy with Bill Monroe when Bessie Lee Mauldin was unable to.”

Also on the tour were Jimmy C Newman and the Everly Brothers, for both of whom he played steel guitar where needed.

We are very grateful to Donald Teplyske of the Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society, central Alberta, Canada, for sharing this information and some fascinating documentation of this tour, prepared by Jack Paget.

Jack Paget’s obituary written by Teplyske is on page four of their autumn 2010 newsletter.

** The Festival of American Folklife 1982 commendation said of Bill Monroe ……

“A songmaker, a mandolinist, and Father of Bluegrass. Once described as ‘Folk Music in overdrive’ this brilliant musical style takes the familiar American string band ensemble of fiddle, banjo, guitar and mandolin into a new dimension. Bill Monroe is one of the few living Americans who can justly claim to have created an entirely new musical style.”

As part of the ceremonial event on Constitution Avenue, Washington D.C. Monroe played an instrumental, Dusty Miller, and sang Uncle Pen.

Accompanying him were Barry Mitterhoff and Hazel Dickens [both playing guitar], Frank Necessary [banjo] and Don Goldman [fiddle]. The bass player is thought to have been Jim Duke.

Recordings of these two performances were released on Masters of Traditional Arts, a DVD-ROM (ABC-CL10) in 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.