I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #32

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.

  • November 1, 1933 Arthur ‘Art’ Stamper born Hindman, Knott County, Kentucky. He was a classic Kentucky fiddler and a giant in traditional mountain music and the bluegrass style that evolved from it. Stamper, who received the Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2004, worked as a Blue Grass Boy during October 1984.  *
  • November 1, 1973 LP released – Bean Blossom (MCA MCA 2-8002) **
  • November 1, 1974 Wayne Shrubsall filled in, playing banjo, with the Blue Grass Boys at a bluegrass festival held in Payson, Arizona. The Blue Grass Boys consisted of Kenny Baker [fiddle], Shrubsall, Johnny Montgomery [bass] and Jack Cooke [guitar]. ***
  • November 1, 2006 Buddy Killen died at his Nashville home, aged 73, of pancreatic cancer.  ****

* Art Stamper started playing fiddle around the age of nine, learning the art from his father, Hiram, and by the age of 16 he had already played with professionals such as Jim McReynolds, Buster Pack and the Sauceman Brothers. In the early 1950s he was playing regularly with the Stanley Brothers. By the mid 1950s Art had joined the Osborne Brothers and Red Allen.

Stamper left music for a career as a hairdresser only to return in the late 1970s to do some recording with the Goins Brothers. Later he played with Bill Clifton and Red Rector. His own recordings can be found on the Old Homestead and County labels.

** Bean Blossom (MCA MCA 2-8002) was recorded live June 16 and 17, 1973 at Monroe’s festival in Bean Blossom, IN. It was issued on two LPs, presented in a gate-fold sleeve (remember them?) and a rather decorative, pop art, cover.

It was one of Monroe’s most popular albums.

“There is very little in the world quite like a good, live bluegrass album, and this is as good as it gets. The album was recorded in 1973 at the seventh annual Bill Monroe Bluegrass Festival in Bean Blossom, IN, and features, alongside Monroe, most of the greats of early bluegrass, still kicking in the 1970s – Jim and Jesse, Jimmy Martin, James Monroe, Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass, and 12 of the period’s greatest fiddlers. The only notably absent figures of the classic bluegrass canon are the Stanley Brothers and Earl Scruggs; Carter Stanley died in 1966, and Scruggs, who had recently broken from Flatt to pursue more ‘modern’ sounds in bluegrass music, was still getting the silent treatment from Monroe for leaving his Bluegrass (sic) Boys in the first place. Curly Ray Cline, Clarence ‘Tater’ Tate, Tex Logan, Kenny Baker and the other eight fiddlers play simultaneously on three instrumental standards, Soldier’s Joy, Grey Eagle and Down Yonder, backing Monroe on the album’s final track, a lively and unforgettable Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. The music is played, for the most part, at a tightly reined turbo speed and, along with the steady claps and yells and sure-enough screams of an enormously rowdy audience, makes for about the most exciting 75 minutes of music imaginable. Bean Blossom captures the true, original spirit of the music created by Monroe as much or more than any other album, and provides a sturdy backbone to any bluegrass collection.”

Burgin Mathews, Allmusic.com

Track listing – Mule Skinner Blues; You Won’t Be Satisfied That Way; Uncle Pen; Blue Moon Of Kentucky; Ole Slew Foot; Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes; Please Be My Love; I Wish You Knew; Love Please Come Home; Train 45; Bonny; When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again; Hit Parade Of Love; Mary Ann; Sunny Side Of The Mountain; Freeborn Man; Tennessee; Rollin’ In My Sweet Baby’s Arms; Feudin’ Banjos; Ballad Of Jed Clampett; Roll On Buddy; I Wonder Where You Are Tonight; Orange Blossom Special; Down Yonder; Soldier’s Joy; Grey Eagle; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

*** Wayne Shrubsall is a nationally-known banjoist and song-catcher. As well as performing with Bill Monroe, he has played with Byron Berline, Vassar Clements, Dan Crary, Peter Feldmann and Steve Smith and Hard Road and many other individuals and groups.

Shrubsall received his Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of New Mexico, working with the banjo in American popular culture. He has written for bluegrass music and banjo-oriented publications, including Banjo NewsLetter, since1972 and has presented a program focusing on the history of the banjo and banjo styles since 1985. He has been a participant in numerous folklore workshops, festivals and music events and has worked on many recordings, notably with Alan Munde on their banjo duet album, Old Friends and with Steve Smith’s Hard Road band.

**** Killen was a music publisher, songwriter, record producer and musician. The one-time owner of Tree Music played bass during a Monroe recording session in January 1955.

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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.