Seldom Scene’s new logo looks back with fondness

The Seldom Scene has revealed a new band logo, one that recalls the great John Duffey, who helped found the group in 1971, and played mandolin and sang until his passing in 1996.

John had a special fondness for his whiskey sours, which he always had available when the band toured. He was a big man who could handle his liquor, and simply liked to have a drink on stage. In fact he traveled with a portable bar that fit into an attache case with his whiskey, his sour mix, and his glasses.

Many’s the time he would show up for a gig with a mandolin case in one hand and his portable bar in the other. He wasn’t the sort of person to leave such things to chance, and he wanted his drink made his way. Duffey even convinced a local restaurant near where he lived in Washington, DC to sell him the liquid sour mix they used at the bar, until he figured out how to make it himself. Details!

So the new Seldom Scene logo pays tribute to John, who was a larger than life personality in many ways, and the drink holder he made in his shop to attach to his microphone stand on stage. It became legendary within the band, and among fans, and Duffey would make sure it was with him for performances, as much as his mandolin.

Current mandolinist Lou Reid remembers those days, when he served alongside Duffey as guitarist, until John died from a heart attack in ’96.

“He got tired of putting his cups on things on stage, so he made up his own cup holder to fit on a mic stand. I was there when he made it, back in the ’80s. He was just tired of having to turn around and pick up his drink while he was talking on the microphone.”

Lou also has a vivid memory of John’s traveling bar kit.

“When we went to Europe, must have been ’88, John had that one little suitcase that he and Nancy travelled with in one hand, and his portable bar in the other.”

The Scene explained a bit more about Duffey’s cup holder when they introduced the new logo on Facebook.

“Those who were lucky enough to see the great John Duffey in person might have noticed his signature beverage holder. But what you may not know is that he created it himself. John was a man of many talents. Made of a cranberry red plastic, it was originally a drink holder that would hang from one’s vehicle window, likely bought at an auto store. John converted it by attaching a piece of wood with two screw bolts to the plastic and then used a super strong spring clip to attach it to his microphone stand. He even cut out a half-quarter size area of the plastic bottom to ensure it would lay perfectly against his stand, making it an effortless process to quinch his thirst on stage.

So what was in his cup? On stage it was always a whiskey sour. But at home or on the road it was his signature Hershey’s chocolate syrup mixed with club soda and five ice cubes. Yes, you read that correctly: Hershey’s syrup and Hershey’s only. After a gig, John and the guys drove all over San Francisco one evening while he looked for his syrup because it had to be Hershey’s and nothing else would do.

And just like chocolate syrup, change is sweet. We will always pay homage to the original lineup before us, the greats who made bluegrass what it is today. But we are also looking forward to the future and cannot wait to share new music with you all later this year. Stay tuned and long live the Seldom Scene.”

Reid credits bass player Ronnie Simpkins with the idea for this logo, which was designed by Hannah Tatum and Zach Norris at The Grass Spot. It will soon be available on official Seldom Scene merchandise.

Well done all!

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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.