Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson

Germain Media and Appalachian Memory Keepers have completed their film on G.B. Grayson, the blind, old time fiddler that some contend is the father of contemporary old time music, much as Bill Monroe was of bluegrass. Some think of him more as the grandfather of bluegrass.

Titled Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson, this short film tells the life of this iconic artist, whose brief career as a recording artist made a sizable impact on Appalachian music from the the late 1920s until today. Grayson died at 40 years of age in a tragic automobile incident in 1930, or he would surely have continued recording until his natural death.

G.B. wasn’t totally blind, but functionally so enough that music was the only sort of work he could do. He both wrote new songs in the style common to his day, and adapted many other old songs to the sort of pre-bluegrass string band music of the time. Many songs now standards in the genre are attributed to him, like Tom Dooley, Train 45, Handsome Molly, Short Life of Trouble, Going Down the Lee Highway, Omie Wise, Rose Conley, Banks of the Ohio, and Little Maggie.

Short Life of Trouble mixes interviews, narration, and dramatic reenactment to tell the story of this formidable musician. Discussions are included with Ketch Secor, John McCutcheon, and Ralph Stanley II, among others, sharing the history of this largely unknown artist whose contributions to our music have been so substantial. Running 39 minutes, the film packs a lot into a brief run time.

Directed and produced by Kelley St. Germain, the film has been accepted into multiple film festivals, and was awarded the Best Short Documentary prize at the Port Blair International Film Festival in India earlier this year.

You can get a taste in the theatrical trailer Kelley has prepared.

For more information on Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson, visit the film’s official web site. There you can see the film festivals where it will be screened, and will be able to find news should it be made available for home distribution.

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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.