My father, Carroll Bumgarner, is from rural North Carolina, in the Smokey Mountains and grew up in a large family where most everyone played old time fiddle, banjo, and bluegrass music. In fact, his father was a fiddler who once filled in with Bill Monroe and was asked to join his band. As a father of four, my grandfather declined. He fiddled because he father did, too; in fact, he made fiddles in the mountains. So, that makes me a fourth generation fiddler.
I became interested in learning myself after seeing the Johnson Mountain Boys perform when I was about 9 years old. I started guitar lessons with Mike Kropp and continued for one year. I then got bored with rhythm guitar, so I took up every instrument in the house, from piano, bass, mandolin, and fiddle, to banjo and dobro, plus, started singing. When I was 12, I became serious with the fiddle, and was allowed to play that instrument primarily when performing with our family band. By that time, we had been performing as the Bumgarner Family with my mother, Maryann on bass, sister Cheryl on banjo, and my father Carroll on guitar and vocals. The band was playing local churches and nursing homes, and a few festivals here and there. At about age 13, the band was more balanced, having 3 lead instruments (Dad always took breaks on the guitar), and more vocal variety (everyone sang instead of just Dad by now). During my high school years, we changed the name to the Rose City Bluegrass Band when Cheryl's future husband, Jim Plecan, joined on mandolin and vocals. We thought it was a good name with Norwich (our place of residence) being the "Rose of New England" and also called the "Rose City."
During high school, I filled in with local acts like Shady Creek, did some recording for folk singers such as Patrick McGinnly, and took the community radio course at UCONN and joined WHUS in 1990. Plus, I entered fiddle contests every chance I got.
In college joined a female band called, "SassyGrass," a female band whose members included the likes of Suzi Gibson and Betsy Rome. The band played a lot around New England and won the Northeast regional Pizza Hut/IBMA sponsored bluegrass band competition in Boston. This brought us to the final competition in Owensboro in 1991, where we placed 3rd.
I could not juggle the band and the radio with the seriousness and importance of pharmacy school. As I entered the professional portion of pharmacy school, I first gave up the band. A year later, I left my spot at WHUS and became an as-needed disc jockey. Now and then, you would hear me on certain public service announcements, doing news and weather, and covering different shows like World Music (I could always throw some Russian Bluegrass in there!).
I graduated from UCONN in 1995, got married to Keegan Day, and started working in retail pharmacy as a pharmacist and manager of a chain pharmacy. I picked up music again, mostly in the form of session work. Musically, there has been quite some variety, playing on church worship teams, different bands like Marcy Hill (including Gary Skillings) from New Hampshire, Blackstone Valley from Massachusetts (with brothers Dave and Bob Dick), and even Irish Music with Peter Lange's "Cashel Rock."
My most exciting session work was released in June 2006. I played for CMH's Picking On the Red Hot Chili Peppers project. The title is "Pick My Kiss - A bluegrass tribute to the Red Hot Chili Peppers." Other artists on the project include Roger Williams, Dave Dick to name a few.
Mostly, my main focus these days is on my family and church life. Keegan and I have a beautiful 4 year old, Keegan III. His boundless energy keeps us on our toes. He is very musical, and started carrying a tune when he was one year old. He has rhythm, too. But, we have not started any formal training yet.
The future will have us back to attending festivals, performing here and there with other groups, and someday, I will record my own work and compositions with some of my favorite New England for backup.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Cathy (Bumgarner) Day's BG bio
Time to catch up with another alum of The Magic Of Bluegrass. This time around, it's Cathy Day...