Seldom Scene at the White House

Ben Eldridge trades quips with the President - Ben Eldridge, Lou Reid, Ronnie Simpkins, President Bush, Dudley Connell, Fred TraversThe last time the Seldom Scene were invited to entertain people at The White House, rain prevented them from singing even one song. Well, when they got the opportunity to take a return engagement, the weather was a lot more pleasant and they were treated as special guests.

The majority of the guests at The White House special dinner last Monday (July 21) were members of the 2008 United States Olympic and Para-Olympic teams. Athletes such as Allyson Felix, Lauryn Williams, Sanya Richards, Bernard Lagat, Tyson Gay, Adam Nelson, Bryan Clay and Jeremy Wariner; and swimmers Michael Phelps, Larsen Jensen, Brendan Hansen, Natalie Coughlin, Katie Hoff, Christine Magnuson were given a fitting send off prior to the competitions next month in Beijing, China.

There were Ambassadors and other dignitaries also, alongside George W Bush and his wife, Laura. The President sat right up front, listening intently, perhaps thinking about the ole home place…?

Playing on a small stage in the Rose Garden, the Seldom Scene performed four songs, Old Train, Wait a Minute, the old Bob Dylan tune, It’s All Over Now Baby Blue and City of New Orleans. President Bush must have enjoyed what he heard as at the end he went onto the stage and requested “just one more.” Of course, they graciously obliged, after kidding that they said they didn’t know one more‚Ķ they’re such kidders‚Ķ and they launched into Nadine, in fact.

I wonder, at the end did they hand him a copy of their latest CD, SCENEchronized, only to find that he had a copy already?

Members of the band are Ben Eldridge on banjo; Dudley Connell on guitar, Lou Reid on mandolin, Fred Travers on dobro; and Ronnie Simpkins on bass. Thanks to Sally Love and Dudley Connell for the insight.

Footnote: (Weather Report) …

The rained-out event was a picnic on June 3rd, honouring the Executive Office and Cabinet staff. The weather in Washington DC during the daytime on the 21st was in the upper 90s, humidity about 120%, and it didn’t cool off too much when the sun went down. Fortunately, they played after sun set!

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics.

A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe.

He wrote the annotated series I’m On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.