More feedback on Bill Monroe series

Regular readers have noted our year-long series of Bill Monroe facts, I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky, prepared by Richard Thompson. Each day Richard brings forward Monroe milestones that occurred on that date through the years – some monumental, others of milder significance.

On at least two occasions since the series began in October of 2010, I have shared some of the particularly nasty comments we received from folks who felt that this attention to Bill Monroe during his centennial year was a distraction (or worse) to their enjoyment of The Bluegrass Blog.

As we near the end of this series, perhaps readers will enjoy some of the many comments that have come in, on both sides of the issue. All make good points, and along with other unrelated comments we’ve received, have helped shape our redesign efforts, set for launch on or near September 1.

In the small world department…

“Regardless of what a few people say, I believe your series on Bill Monroe is one of the most informative, fascinating, interesting and appropriate series on the internet. Thanks a million. An interesting side note – several weeks ago, I learned the birth date of Danny Jones. Since I know Danny and since he lives in my area, I was able to send him a birthday greeting. He was pleasantly surprised.”

And on the con side…

“While I have found the Bill Monroe articles interesting, I do not come to the bluegrass blog to get the latest fix on bill Monroe. I have been frustrated that amongst all the latest news (which I love) and song samples (which I also love) their is this constant array of Monroe stuff. Is their anyway you could put the ongoing series on a separate feed so that those of us who just want news, not a history lesson can get just the news?? Thanks!”

That is something that we are incorporating into our new layout, with separate sections for news, historical data, opinion and commentary – all of which will be expanded when we relaunch.

“I must say that I enjoyed the Monroe stuff for a while but I quickly lost interest. Personally, I feel that most of the information posted has been useless information. As a musician/performer I would be more interested in knowing more about the history behind a Monroe song/tune. Not necessarily who played on the cut, when and where it was cut or what label it was on, but more about where the story of the song came from. What gave Bill the idea for a certain song or title for a tune.

For instance we all know songs such as On My Way Back To The Old Home and Jerusalem Ridge, but a lot of people don’t have any clue to the stories behind them. Monroe wrote some WONDERFUL pieces in his time and I am grateful for them! Louisiana Love is another great song with a story behind it. I personally know the lady the song was written about. How Bill tried to court her for several years and even sending her expensive jewelry. Those are the things I would be interested in learning about.

Just because I’m interested in learning more about the songs doesn’t mean other people would, everyone’s interests are different. Everyone has their own opinion and everyone can’t be satisfied all the time.

I would feel this way whether the year long posts were about Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, John Hartford or anyone so please don’t think that I am ‘Monroe Bashing’ because that’s not the case. I love Monroe!

The Blog for me is a way I try and keep up with the ever-so-quickly changing times of bluegrass artists and bands. To learn about new festivals and venues. To keep up on the newest CD releases and reviews. To hear about unfortunate deaths. Etc…”

And some folks have really enjoyed Richard’s Monroe pieces…

“Just putting in my vote in favor of the daily updates about what happened on this day in the life of Bill Monroe. He was not a perfect human being but then neither are the rest of us.  A lot of people these days have no appreciation of history–things in the past. It took me a few years to appreciate Mr Bill. The majority of musicians in any genre these days are not making music that will last.  It is a very disposable society anymore in many ways.

“The internet gives a platform to the good the bad and the ugly. I find your website great for news that I wouldn’t get here in Ireland. That person complaining about some history about the father of Bluegrass can go f(orget) himself. The scroll bar works fine if he doesn’t like to read it.”

“I think the bg blog has done all bg musicians a great favor posting  the history of Mr. Monroe. I grew up 3 miles away (58 yrs old plus a banjo man) playing at the barn/bgf.cut my teeth on Monroe. He always encouraged us,helped us on songs plus we got to see all the great masters. But the greatest was the master, Bill Monroe, the father of this great music.

He’s the reason I still play in a bluegrass band today, and love it. Everyone in bluegrass needs this posting to understand the history of the music. If you don’t know where it came from how can you play it. Keep up the great work.”

“Thanks to Richard Thompson and John Lawless for the daily dose of Monroe history. I regard it as good reading for any serious bluegrass musician, bluegrass scholar, or the fan who wants to understand more about the music’s roots.

I got to play with Monroe one night in March 1994. I will never forget that night, or that the music initiated by Mr. Monroe has given me most of the good things in my life

Anyone who has negative comments about the daily Monroe articles should be ignored. If this is the worst part of their day, then they must be fairly spoiled. They should command their butler to scroll down.

‘It ain’t no part of nothin’.’ ”

“I truly enjoy your daily updates on Bill Monroe’s history. I’ve been a bluegrass fan since about the age of 12, which goes back almost 50 years, and I learn something new with each posting. I can’t understand how anyone would feel otherwise. Please keep doing what you are doing with this wonderful website.

You’re doing a great job and I enjoy checking your news every day, ESPECIALLY the Bill Monroe daily history notes. You’re digging out facts that haven’t been published before and doing an historical service. Keep it up!”

“I like the ongoing ‘History of Bill’ messages and would be sad to see them end. Please continue to send.

Thank you for all of the information you collect and make available to the bluegrass world.”

It takes all kinds. Thanks to everyone for their comments.

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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.