Category: Bluegrass Trails

Bill Monroe | Rosine, KY | Bluegrass Trails

“Pictures in the Old Homeplace testify to the brilliant 2001 restoration job performed to get the structure from almost ruin to its present form, a faithful representation of its 1917/1918 appearance both inside and out – the work was carried out by the Leatherwood Construction Company of Tennessee. Presented today as a museum to the life and times of Bill Monroe, the five-room wooden structure is filled with early 20th century-vintage furnishings, cherished family heirlooms, and mementos from Monroe’s illustrious 70-year musical career; awards, honours, and, of course, information on the history of the musical genre born within these walls. We know these walls can sing and dance, but if only these walls could talk.”

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Lester Flatt & Benny Martin | Sparta, TN | Bluegrass Trails

“… Sparta is small-town musical Tennessee with some big-name former residents, one of which, Lester Flatt, is one of the most influential proponents of the bluegrass sound he helped to pioneer. Present-day Sparta is grabbing this association with both hands and running with it, even going so far as to brand itself as ‘Bluegrass USA’, and who could blame it if doing so is going to attract the likes of bluegrass-lovin’ us.”

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Tom T. Hall | Olive Hill, KY | Bluegrass Trails

“Portions of the Carter County town of Olive Hill, KY … were as quiet as we’d come to expect from rural Kentucky, but the town is both big enough (population over 1,500) to boast some activity and its residents curious enough to approach us wondering what on earth we obvious out-of-towners were doing poking around somewhere like Olive Hill. “Blame Tom T.”, we said. “Who else?”

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The Osborne Brothers | Hyden, KY | Bluegrass Trails

‘There were/are signs on Osborne Brothers Way on the outskirts of the town commemorating Sonny and Bobby, born here in 1937 and 1931 respectively and still with us today, but nothing that said Osborne Brothers in the veritable ghost town of Hyden itself. Firmly on the bluegrass map, the town hosts a popular multi-day annual bluegrass festival, The Osborne Brothers Hometown Festival, at the town’s Bobby Osborne Pavilion. The festival started in 1994 as a benefit for the Thousandsticks Volunteer Fire Department and Hyden hosted its 25th festival in August of 2018. Festival weekend is probably as good a time as any to visit the town, and if doing so you should find it a livelier than how we found late on a mid-October afternoon.’

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Kenny Baker | Jenkins, KY | Bluegrass Trails

“We did our pre-departure homework, so we were confident at the time that we’d find some reference in Jenkins or neighbouring Burdine/East Jenkins to master fiddler and former local boy Kenny Baker, best known for his 25-year tenure with Bill Monroe, the longest tenure of any of Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys. But no, nothing. Not on the streets of the town, nor among the foliage of the town’s Sam Bentley Cemetery. We came up short.”

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Stanley Bros. / Jim & Jesse | Coeburn, VA | Bluegrass Trails

“Very few of the sleepy settlements along southwestern Virginia’s musical Crooked Road, if any, can top Coeburn‘s All-Star lineup of past and present bluegrass A-listers. The dual brother duo of Jim & Jesse McReynolds and Ralph & Carter Stanley are already bluegrass royalty, something Ralph Stanley II, the present generation of Clinch Mountain musicians, may attain someday.”

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Jimmy Martin | Sneedville, TN | Bluegrass Trails

“… Sneedville, Tennessee, may be one of the poorest towns in the US… but at least it can lay claim to being the hometown of Jimmy ‘King of Bluegrass’ Martin. Suffice it to say, this is the only reason we found ourselves on the streets of the town searching out signs of Sneedville’s favourite son while receiving inquisitive stares from the few locals we encountered; Sneedville is a friendly town (we got free coffee), but it’s still the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else and if you ain’t from round these parts then you’re gonna stand out. We did.”

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The Ryman Auditorium

“It was upon the Ryman Auditorium stage in December 1945 that the ‘Father of Bluegrass’ Bill Monroe presented to the world the sound of a new musical genre…. ‘bluegrass’, as it was to become known, was born. Today, bluegrass remains a staple on venerated stage where it started.”

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Keith Whitley | Sandy Hook, KY | Bluegrass Trails

“We returned to Sandy Hook in 2017. More bluegrass road-trippin’. Yes, the Keith Whitley statue is still there in the town’s Elliot County Memory Garden and the old timers are still frequenting the Frosty Freeze Restaurant to catch up with the local gossip over some simple, hearty fare. Needless to say, it was all very familiar. And all very familiarly quiet.”

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Ricky Skaggs | Cordell, KY | Bluegrass Trails

“Rural Kentucky is home to many a country and bluegrass music heavy-hitter, two of which – one dead, one very much alive – were of particular interest to us on this day, and we went searching for signs of them in two Kentucky towns that you’d probably otherwise have no reason to visit. First up was Cordell, KY boyhood home of one Ricky Skaggs.”

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5 days ago

My Grass Is Blue

✝️ DON RENO | OCTOBER 16, 1984 ✝️

Remembering Don Reno… prodigious multi-instrumentalist (the first time he picked up a banjo 🪕, at the age of five, he found that he could play ‘Brown’s Ferry Blues’ and he could play banjo or guitar in any key without a capo)… innovator (pre-empted by Earl Scruggs as the first prominent three-finger banjo player during Reno’s World War II service, he went on to create a distinctively different banjo style featuring single-string and jazzy chordal phrases adapted from the guitar)… pioneer (first prominent flat-picking lead guitarist in bluegrass)… showman (could hold an audience’s attention for every moment of his live performances)... vocalist… songwriter and composer (with approximately 500 songs and instrumentals, the most prolific composer in bluegrass music history who was known to write 10 or 15 songs at a stretch)… and, of course, one-half of the IBMA Hall of Fame partnership Reno & Smiley, who tragically died 58 years young on this day, October 16, in 1984.

"[Snuffy] Jenkins was the man that told me and showed me how to use the third finger on a banjo. He took time out with me when I was very young." – “The Don Reno Story, Part 1: The Early Years,” interview with Bill Vernon, Muleskinner News, June, 1973.

#bluegrass #bluegrassmusic #mygrassisblue #bluegrasshistory #musichistory #donreno #legend #icon #bluegrasslegend #donrenobanjo #banjo #banjoman #bluegrassbanjo #banjoplayer #bluegrassmusician #onthisdayinbluegrass #renoandsmiley
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