I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky #5

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.

  • October 5, 1968 – Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys were the headline act at The First Old South Bluegrass Festival, Highway 190, Walker, Louisiana.
  • October 5, 1969 – Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys appeared on the last day of the three-day First Annual Indian Summer Maryland State Bluegrass Festival at the Take It Easy Ranch and Country Park, Callaway, Maryland.
  • October 5, 1972 – Tommy Magness died, age 55.
  • October 5, 1973 – Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys played at The Second Annual Florida State Bluegrass Music Convention, Blue Grass Special Country Music Park, Lawtey, Florida.
  • October 5, 1995 -Bill Monroe received the National Medal of the Arts Award, presented by President Bill Clinton at the White House.
  • October 5, 2005 – CD released – Bill Monroe – & The Blue Grass Boys: Live at Mechanics Hall (Acoustic Disc ACD 59)
  • October 5, 2010 – CD released – The Father Of Bluegrass (United States of Distribution/Distributor, Koch Records (USA))

Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys: Live at Mechanics Hall – “Bill Monroe was riding high at the time of this 1963 concert at Mechanics Hall, recorded by a young David Grisman (later to become a mandolin legend in his own right), though this 2004 Acoustic Disc CD marks its very first release. Joined by a phenomenal band including banjo picker Bill Keith, guitarist Del McCoury, fiddler Joe Stuart, and his longtime bassist Bessie Lee, Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass (sic) Boys obviously pleased the audience with their mix of originals, a few country favorites, and traditional tunes. McCoury frequently sings lead, as the guitarist in Monroe’s various groups often did, though the mandolinist takes his turn on occasion

Highlights include some of Monroe’s best-known compositions, including Blue Moon of Kentucky, Rawhide, and Uncle Pen, though few of the selections exceed two and a half minutes. Melissa Monroe, the leader’s daughter, is a special guest on two numbers, while guitarist Mitchell Bea Lilly is added for the gospel favorite What Would You Give in Exchange? The sound achieved by Grisman is surprisingly good, considering that it is very unlikely that it was made at the time with the intention of commercially issuing it. Neil Rosenberg’s detailed liner notes and the photographs made during the performance will add to the value of this CD for fans of the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.” ~ Ken Dryden

Track Listing –  Watermelon Hangin’ on That Vine, [Band Intros], Panhandle County, Dark Hollow, On and On, Devil’s Dream, Love’s Gonna Live Here, Dreaming of a Little Cabin, Muleskinner Blues, Footprints in the Snow, Blue Moon of Kentucky, Rawhide, Henry, John, I Saw the Light, Waiting for Bea, What Would You Give in Exchange?, Uncle Pen, Blue Ridge Mountain Blues, Y’all Come.

Bill Monroe: The Father of Bluegrass – One of the giants of 20th-century music, Kentucky-born Bill Monroe was the undisputed creator of bluegrass. His mandolin-picking and plaintive tenor are among the genre’s most moving and distinctive sounds. His band, the Blue Grass Boys, provided the launching pad for innumerable bluegrass careers, graduating such luminaries as Flatt and Scruggs, Reno and Smiley, and Peter Rowan. Though his period of greatest popularity was the ‘40s and ‘50s, Monroe was a tireless performer who continued to play live into the ‘90s, even after treatment for cancer and a double bypass operation. By the time of his death in 1996, he had been crowned several times over as the king of bluegrass and proved a seminal inspiration to several generations of musicians.

Track Listing – Molly and Tenbrooks (the Racehorse Song), Blue Moon of Kentucky, Footprints In the Snow, Rocky Road Blues, Kentucky Waltz, Backup and Push, In the Pines, Heavy Traffic Ahead, Honkey (sic) Tonk Swing, Orange Blossom Special, Tennessee Blues, Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong, Katy Hill, I Wonder If You Feel the Way I Do, Dog House Blues, Six White Horses, No Letter In the Mail, Mule Skinner Blues, Blue Grass Breakdown, My Rose of Old Kentucky, Little Cabin Home On the Hill, Blue Yodel Number 4, Mother’s Only Sleeping, Blue Yodel Number 7 (Anniversary Blue Yodel), Toy Heart.

[Editor’s note] Some listing show this album as Father of the Blues, rather than The Father Of Bluegrass.

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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.