Red Henry on the Monroe Mandolin Camp

We posted last week about the Monroe Style Mandolin Camp which will be hosted this fall by the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY. Among the instructors chosen for this new event is Red Henry, who passed along some thoughts about the importance of this event.

When Justin Holt called and told me about the camp, I was really glad to hear about it. To me, especially since Bill has been gone, bluegrass mandolin seems to have lost some of its focus. Lots of guys out on the circuit can really play mandolin well, but year by year, bluegrass mandolin in general may be losing some of its original impact and emotional content. Bill Monroe’s revolutionary, very creative attitude seems to be getting lost.

I welcome this Monroe Style workshop as an opportunity to expose interested students to some of the techniques and (more importantly) some artistic aspects of Bill’s music. I’m not talking about just copying Monroe’s playing. That may be fun to do occasionally, but somebody– Bill– has already played his music better than anyone else ever will. I’m talking about studying some of the notes, yes, but also applying some of Bill’s musical attitudes– sometimes aggressive, sometimes sensitive, sometimes mischievous, but always original– to put energy and life into bluegrass mandolin playing.

Our Red & Murphy band has been off the road for quite a few years, and I owe my inclusion on the faculty to a kind recommendation from a great player. Along with myself, I also plan to bring along my son Christopher, who is a terrific Monroe-style player in his own right (those who have seen him performing with 1946, Audie Blaylock, or the Sidemen will testify to that). Chris is an experienced teacher as well, having taught for several years, including instructing at camps such as Augusta Heritage Week. Our family business is the Murphy Method tapes, and Chris recorded our Bill Monroe-Style Mandolin Video, on which he teaches several of Bill’s greatest tunes literally note-by-note.

Come prepared to learn, and to pick. The Monroe Style Mandolin Camp ought to be a very good time.

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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.