Monday, September 12, 2011

"Bluegrass Cafe" playlist - 9/11/2011

Unless you've been asleep for the past year, you're probably aware that September 13th marks what would have been the 100th birthday of William Smith Monroe, the Father of Bluegrass Music.  There aren't too many performers who could claim they created their own style of music, but it seems to apply to this uniquely American original.  Over the past week, many Bluegrass radio programmers have been airing Bill Monroe tribute programs in which they devote their entire broadcasts to Big Mon and his music.  While we didn't devote today's entire program to the music of Bill Monroe, we certainly had a very Monroe-centric it should be.

There's probably no other country music performer who has been the subject of more songs than the Father of Bluegrass (except for maybe Hank Williams).  Sunday's show began with five tribute tunes written for or about Monroe, both while he was with us, and since his passing on September 9, 1996.  Easily, we could have played several more of these tribute songs, so that probably illustrates the impact Bill Monroe continues to have on the music he created.  

Instead of playing just covers of Monroe's tunes -- and we did include a bunch of those -- we did something sort of unusual for a BG show.  We put a spotlight on a song Monroe first recorded with his classic grouping of Blue Grass Boys (Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Chubby Wise, Howard Watts) on September 16, 1946:  a song he'd written in honor of his home state, "Blue Moon Of Kentucky."  Just eight years later, in July 1954, a young singer from Mississippi by the name of Elvis Presley was looking for a "B" side for his Sun Records hit, "That's Alright, Mama."  While in the recording studio, one of his Elvis's  bandmates started noodling around with "Blue Moon Of Kentucky," and put a completely different spin on Monroe's original 3/4 waltz time song.  The song became a more upbeat, 4/4 time rockabilly hit, and that record ended up selling about 100,000 copies in the southern market.  Instead of being offended by Elvis "stealing" and changing one of his signature songs, Monroe just decided to re-record "Blue Moon..." using both the 3/4 and 4/4 time signatures...and he did it on September 4, 1954 -- only about 2 months after Elvis had recorded the song.  Kind of amazing when you think about it.  

With the majority of Sunday's show devoted to the music of Bill Monroe, we didn't have a whole lot of time for new music, but we still managed to squeeze in a song from Frank Wakefield's new tribute recording to Bill Monroe, as well as two tracks from the latest edition of  the "New Cuts Of Bluegrass" sampler.  Those tracks were from two forthcoming projects from Rebel Records by Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, as well as Chris Jones & the Night Drivers.  The songs from those two were so good, I can't wait to hear the full projects!  We also congratulated the winner of the 2011 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass, the Lonesome River Band's Sammy Shelor.  The award includes a cash prize, as well as an appearance for Sammy & the Lonesome River Band with Steve Martin on the November 3rd "Late Show With David Letterman."  Cool! 

While we didn't play any specific songs to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on America in 2001, we certainly paused for a moment to remember all of those whose lives were forever changed that day.

In hindsight, perhaps I didn't provide enough information on the show about Bill Monroe for folks who may not know too much about the Father of Bluegrass.  One good source for quick biography can be found on the Country Music Hall of Fame's website.  Monroe has also been the subject of at least two books so far, and there are others soon to be published.  In the meantime, you might try Richard D. Smith's Monroe biography:  Can't You Hear Me Callin' : The Life Of Bill Monroe, Father Of Bluegrass by Richard D. Smith; or a more-detailed biography/discography by a couple of country music historians:  The Music Of Bill Monroe by Neil V. Rosenberg and Charles K. Wolfe.  Monroe is an amazing, fascinating character, and even if he's been dead for 15 years, his influence will never leave us.  

Thanks for listening to the show, and have a good week.



  • Katy Hill / Del McCoury  Band / RockyGrass / Blue Planet
  • Is The Grass Any Bluer / Rhonda Vincent / The Storm Still Rages / Rounder
  • Monroebilia / Nashville Bluegrass Band / My Native Home / Rounder
  • William Smith Monroe / Niall Toner / New Cuts Of Bluegrass, Volume 3 / no label
  • Bill Monroe For Breakfast / Acoustic Blue / This Is Now / Self-Produced
  • Kentucky King / Larry Cordle, Glen Duncan & Lonesome Standard Time / Larry Cordle, Glen Duncan & Lonesome Standard Time / Sugar Hill
  • I'm Going Back To Old Kentucky / Bill Monroe with Del McCoury / Bill Monroe & Stars Of The Bluegrass Hall Of Fame / MCA
  • I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling / Bill Monroe with the Osborne Brothers / Bill Monroe & Stars Of The Bluegrass Hall Of Fame / MCA
  • Shenandoah Valley Breakdown / Jimmy Gaudreau's Bluegrass Unit / Live In Holland / Strictly Country
  • My Sweet Blue Eyed Darlin' / Lonesome River Band / Carrying The Tradition / Rebel
  • Honey In The Rock / Lewis Family / A Gospel Bluegrass Homecoming, Volume One / Gaither Music
  • Blue Mountain Melody / Larry Sparks / Almost Home / Rounder
  • Iron & Diamonds / Gibson Brothers / Iron & Diamonds / Sugar Hill
  • Sparta Flash / The Expedition Show / The Expedition Show / Mountain Fever Records
  • Grave In The Valley / Adcock, Gaudreau, Waller & Gray / The Country Gentlemen Reunion Band / RadioTherapy Records
  • Runaway Train / Kentucky Wind / Runaway Train / Aztec Records
  • Things In Life / Darin & Brooke Aldridge / So Much In Between / Mountain Home
  • Jubilation Day / Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers / Rare Bird Alert / Rounder
  • Pretty Little Girl / Lonesome River Band / Still Learning / Rural Rhythm
  • Blue Moon Of Kentucky / Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys / The Golden Age / Columbia
  • Blue Moon Of Kentucky / Elvis Presley / Sunrise / RCA Victor Europe
  • Blue Moon Of Kentucky / Stanley Brothers / Selected Cuts, 1955-1956 / JSP Records
  • Blue Moon Of Kentucky / Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys / Anthology / MCA
  • Molly And Tenbrooks / Larry Stephenson & Mark Newton with Lou Reid / Live At Mr. B's / B's Records
  • Travelin' Down This Lonesome Road / Dreadful Snakes / Snakes Alive! / Rounder
  • Rawhide / Frank Wakefield / A Tribute To Bill Monroe / Patuxent Music
  • A Far Cry From Lester And Earl / Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice / New Cuts Of Bluegrass, Volume / no label
  • I'll Sail For Higher Ground / John Bowman / Family Chain : The Songs Of Joe Isaacs / Pisgah Ridge Music
  • Final Farewell / Chris Jones & the Night Drivers / New Cuts Of Bluegrass, Volume 4 / no label
  • My Old Kentucky And You / Larry Stephenson with Ricky Skaggs / 20th Anniversary / Pinecastle
  • Tennessee Blues / Chris Thile & Michael Daves / Sleep With One Eye Open / Nonesuch Records
  • Log Cabin For Sale / Bear Minimum / Live At The Finnish Hall / no label
  • Three Ways Of Knowing / Allerton & Alton / Black, White & Bluegrass / Bear Family
  • Nobody Knows Who You Are / Spinney Brothers & Close Company / The Old Fundy Shore / Self-Produced
  • She's Young (And I'm Growing Old) / Johnson Mountain Boys / Live At The Birchmere / Rounder
  • Rocky Road Blues / Hot Rize / Take It Home / Sugar Hill
  • Used To Be / Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick / Cool, Blue & Lonesome / Sugar Hill
  • Uncle Pen / Billy & Terry Smith / Bill Monroe Tribute / K-Tel Records
  • Footprints In The Snow / Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys / Live At Mechanics Hall / Acoustic Disc
  • A Voice From On High / Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys / High Lonesome / CMH
  • Lord Lead Me On / Audie Blaylock & Redline / I'm Going Back To Old Kentucky / Rural Rhythm
  • When The Saints Go Marching In / Lilly Brothers & Don Stover / Let The Light Shine Down : A Gospel Tribute To Bill Monroe / Rebel
  • I'll Meet You In Church Sunday Morning / Ralph Stanley with Bill Monroe / Saturday Night & Sunday Morning / Freeland
  • Crying Holy To The Lord / Volume Five / Children Of The Mountain / Mountain Fever Records
  • Remember The Cross / Big Country Bluegrass / Big Country Bluegrass / Hay Holler
  • Mansions For Me / Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice / Skaggs & Rice / Sugar Hill
  • Boat Of Love / Balsam Range / Marching Home / Mountain Home
  • Blue Grass Twist / Johnson Mountain Boys / Requests / Rounder

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