I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #336

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.

  • September 1, 1946 Thomas Dollison Ralston ‘Tom’ Ewing was born in Columbus, Ohio. *
  • September 1, 1972 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys appeared at The First Annual Delaware Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Festival, Glasgow, Delaware, during Labor Day Weekend.
  • September 1, 1974 Bill Monroe was named yet again as the Best Mandolin Player in the Muleskinner News magazine reader’s poll.  **

* Tom Ewing was the guitarist and lead singer for most of the last 10 years of Bill Monroe’s career. He first played with the Blue Grass Boys as a guest in 1972. Except for a three month sabbatical at the turn of 1988, Ewing worked for Monroe from May 1986 through to Monroe’s last date in March 1996.

He was employed on 13 recording sessions during that time. Among the songs on which he sang lead are The Old Crossroads (on Bluegrass ’87 MCA 5970), The Days Gone By, What A Wonderful Life, Take Courage Un’ Tomorrow (Southern Flavor MCA 42133), Precious Memories (Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys Live at the Opry MCA 42286), Just A Little Talk With Jesus and He’ll Take You In (Cryin’ Holy Unto The Lord MCA 10017).

Ewing participated in the speculative sessions that Vic Gabany did during Monroe’s later years.

Additionally Ewing is featured on several other projects including that for Blue Plate (Live from the Mountain Stage); the video High Lonesome (Shanachie); Bill Monroe, The Father of Bluegrass Music (Original Cinema), producing the CD that contains some tracks from that film; and he was a member of the Blue Grass Boys that played in Germany in July 1989 (see Bill Monroe In Germany: Far Across the Blue Water, Bear Family BCD 16624 EK).

Prior to his stint with Monroe, Ewing played with Sandy Rothman in the B Natural Boys and later with Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys. Also, he was a member of the All-American Boys, a band that included Tony Ellis.

After Monroe’s death, he played for a time with the Warrior River Boys and then with Jim & Jesse. For a brief period during 2005 he fronted the Rambling Ramblers.

During the 1990s he released three albums of his own music.

Ewing edited The Bill Monroe Reader (published by the University of Illinois Press, 2000) and is a regular contributor to Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, for which he compiled the “30 Years Ago This Month” column for several years.

He is currently working on an extensively-researched Bill Monroe biography, but still keeping one foot in the music. He helped Frank Wakefield on his new CD, A Tribute to Bill Monroe (Patuxent 227), and he has been traveling and playing shows with former Blue Grass Boys Bob Black and Mark Hembree (with friends Paul Kienitz [fiddle] and Brian Ray [mandolin]).

** Bill Monroe won the Muleskinner News magazine’s Best Mandolin Player award for three consecutive years, starting in 1972.

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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.