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.
- December 4, 1930 Don Sowards was born. Sowards had fill-in jobs playing the guitar and the banjo for the Blue Grass Boys during 1960. *
- December 4, 1961 Recording session – During a late evening session at Bradley Film & Recording Studio in Nashville, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys recorded three instrumentals – John Hardy, Bugle Call Rag and Old Joe Clark. Like those instrumentals recorded on November 30, 1961, all three were included on the Bluegrass Ramble LP (Decca DL 7-4266), released on June 11, 1962. Assisting were Jimmy Maynard [guitar], Tony Ellis [banjo], Bessie Lee Mauldin [bass] and Bobby Joe Lester [fiddle].
- December 4, 1971 Bill Monroe offered a testimony in favor of the establishment of the American Folklife Foundation at a congressional hearing held at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, Tennessee. The hearing preceded the Grand Ole Opry show for that Saturday evening. **
* Don Sowards, an excellent songwriter, is better known as a mandolin player and tenor singer. His best song is perhaps Carolina Sunshine the title song to the Leather LP (LBG 7710, released in 1980) that he recorded with the Laurel Mountain Boys.
Other songs written by Sowards include The Old Swinging Bridge, Just Being You, I Call Her Sunshine, Long Black Beauty, Midnight Loneliness and While I’m Gone.
He has also worked with Bill Duncan and his Harmony Mountain Boys, recording an album, A Scene Near My Country Home (King 825).
** The American Folklife Foundation was established with the enactment of the Texas Democrat Senator Ralph Yarborough’s American Folklife Foundation bill on January 2, 1976 [Public Law 94-201]. It provided for the establishment of an American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress “to preserve and present American Folklife.” The Smithsonian Institute was designated as the agency in charge .
The act was a significant aid to the task of collecting and cataloging recordings of authentic folk songs.