Since the passing of Jimmy Martin in 2005, bluegrass music has officially been without a King. Jimmy may have declared himself King, and the title accepted without dissent, but lacking an heir in the music for him to pass it to, the title has gone unclaimed all this time.
Perhaps royalty has been rendered superfluous in such a democratic age as ours, but as we do have a reigning Queen in Rhonda Vincent, is there not a hole in the royal court?
With all that in mind, Glen Harrell, the talented and ebullient lead singer with Volume Five, has made a move to assume the position. He says that it started out as a joke, but the guys in the band have been keeping it going since last fall.
“We were coming back from a show one night, talking about the fact that bluegrass has a queen but no king, and I wondered what would happen if I just all of sudden appointed myself the new king of bluegrass. You know, make a big joke out of it.
When we played the Station Inn back in November I think, Paul Schiminger was backstage with us, and he was going to introduce us. He asked if we wanted him to include anything, and I said, ‘just tell them we have a big announcement tonight.’
On stage I told the folks that we had decided to appoint me as the King of Bluegrass, something that had been missing in our music.
I never even knew I had come from royalty!”
Harrell had taken a paper Burger King crown, crossed out the word “Burger” with a marker, and written in “Bluegrass.” The guys made a big deal of crowning him, and everyone at the Station had a blast with it.
Glen took it all in the spirit it was intended.
“I had promised myself I wouldn’t cry.”
The rest of the band – Jacob Burleson on guitar, Aaron Ramsey on mandolin, Chris Wade on banjo, and Zach Collier on bass – haven’t stopped ribbing Harrell about being the King, and mentioning it at shows. He says he now keeps Burger King crowns in his car at the ready.
Volume Five is back at the Station Inn tomorrow night, March 12. How funny would it be if everyone showed up wearing Burger King crowns?
There may be an endorsement deal in their future.