Interesting reactions to Kenny Baker remembrances

Richard Thompson’s piece yesterday, with its poignant remembrances of Kenny Baker from his musical peers, elicited a pair of interesting responses from bluegrass professionals among our readers. Both wanted to share their personal reaction upon reading that piece, one looking back and the other forward.

The first came from Irish singer, songwriter and bandleader Niall Toner, whose tribute to Big Mon, William Smith Monroe, is receiving widespread radio airplay in the US.

“I was very touched by the wide variety of comments posted about Fiddle Maestro, the late Kenny Baker. I had the good fortune to meet Kenny on many occasions, but most notably in Belfast in Northern Ireland in 1975, when he played a concert at the George The 4th Hall with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.

Bill had welcomed me into the dressing room before the show, and gave me permission to photograph the band as they were warming up before going on stage. When I took a couple of snaps of Kenny, as he finished a tune, he said to me ‘Boy, be sure and get my good side’.”

He was the greatest Bluegrass Fiddler of all time, and a Gentleman to boot.”

Niall will be at IBMA this Fall, showcasing his many Monroe tributes and other original songs at the Mountain Music Entertainment Suite on Wednesday (9/28).

We also heard from Derek Deakins, former fiddler with both James Monroe and the Osborne Brothers. He was moved by the video Richard Greene referenced yesterday to tackle one of Kenny’s solos in Bb.

“I was fortunate enough to get to play with Kenny when I worked for James back in 2000 and 2001. When I was reading Richard’s post about Kenny Baker it inspired me to learn Kenny’s break on On My Way Back to the Old Home.

It was trickier than I though it would be, so I thought others may want to learn it too. I slowed it down and posted on Youtube for others to hear it slow.”

And the original…

Thanks Derek and Niall for your contributions to the commemoration of the immortal Kenny Baker.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.