Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass

Making History with Pioneers of BluegrassWouldn’t it be fun to sit down with a few first or second generation bluegrass artists, and listen to their stories of the old days? I’ve been fortunate to have a few opportunities to do so, and I never miss a chance.

For many of us, especially young fans and students of the music, these legends can seem less like real people, and more like characters from an historical drama. But they lived the bluegrass life, long before there were air-conditioned tour buses to go from show to show. And well before there were skilled sound techs and audio systems, and recording meant direct to disc with no overdubs.

This is most particularly true of the sidemen who toured with headliners like Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, or The Stanley Brothers. Their stories contain a wealth of detail about these early years, not to mention an important part of bluegrass history.

All this has been on the mind of James Reams, a bluegrass artist with a preservationist’s ear, living in New York City. He has spent much of the past ten years compiling and recording interviews in cooperation with the International Bluegrass Music Museum for the express purpose of pulling them together into a feature length documentary. He has interviews with Jimmy Martin, Melvin Goins, Kenny Baker, Bobby Osborne, Bill Yates, Curly Seckler, Patsy and Donna Stoneman and more than a dozen others in the can.

All this work is about to culminate in the release of Making History with Pioneers of Bluegrass: Tales of the Early Days in Their Own Words on DVD, if bluegrass fans are willing to support post-production and manufacturing through Reams’ Kickstarer campaign.

Here is James’ pitch.


Reams is looking to raise $5000 to complete this project, a most worthy endeavor it would seem. You can pledge your support online.

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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.