I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #55

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 24, 1951 Single released – Brakeman’s Blues / Travelin’ Blues (Decca 9 – 46380, 78rpm)
  • November 24, 1953 James Earl Bryan born Boaz, Alabama. *
  • November 24, 1968 Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys starred at the first Fort Polk Bluegrass Festival, staged at the Kisatchie Theater, Fort Polk, Louisiana. With Monroe were James Monroe [bass], Kenny Baker [fiddle], Roland White [guitar] and Vic Jordan [banjo].
  • November 24, 1973 Larry Bartosh played his only date, filling in on banjo, with the Blue Grass Boys. **

* Bryan teamed-up with Monroe for about three months in the late summer/early fall of 1977.

A fiddler almost since birth, Bryan won his first competition at the age of 12 and, as an apprentice of Kenny Baker, he took the title of Tennessee Valley Fiddle King 5 years later. As a member of James Monroe’s Midnight Ramblers, he participated in the recording sessions for Bill & James Monroe’s album Together Again (MCA-2367) released in June 1978.

Bryan eventually joined Norman Blake’s Rising Fawn String Ensemble, where his mastery of the fiddle and repertoire of old-time songs was honed.

He made his solo debut on Rounder with Lookout Blues (0175) in 1983. The First of May (Rounder 0215) followed about two years later. Both albums featured a mix of old-time Southern tunes, many of them still bearing the strains of their English and Scottish heritage.

Bryan continued to perform throughout the 1980s, both solo and with Norman and Nancy Blake. Here is a video of the three of them:

** Bartosh was an early student of Alan Munde’s.

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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.