BLUEGRASS NEWS LETTER:
Monroe, Frank Wakefield, Lester Flatt, Ralph Stanley, Kenny Baker, Jimmy
Martin, Larry Sparks, Sullivan Family, Tex Logan, Bob Black, Richard
Greene, Jack Hicks, Joe Stuart, Joe Mullins, Wilma Lee & Stoney
Cooper, Marty Stuart, Wayne Lewis, Butch Robins, Bobby Hicks, David Grisman, David
Nelson, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Garcia, Lamar Grier, Roland White, Julia
Labella and much more.
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JIMMY MARTIN INTERVIEWS
An amazing and understandable insight into the world of Jimmy
JIMMY MARTIN "TELLS IT LIKE IT IS!"
I'll tell you one thing. When I come with him! You listen, you
put this on your web site... When I come with Bill Monroe, he was
singing "Blue Moon of Kentucky" in A. OK?
Then every song that he and Lester had recorded in A like "Will You Be
Loving Another Man", "Cabin Home On The Hill"? I
throwed it up in B natural. So his solos was in A. Bill's
was. FOLLOW ME?! Like Lester... Bill's singing
like Lester. Ok, when I went with him all the songs that him and Lester
recorded in A, we moved them up in B and high C. So Bill says,
"well what's the use of me singing tenor to you in B and singing
"Blue Moon of Kentucky" in A?" "I am just gonna move
it up in B". So there is where the high lonesome sound come from. Ya
understand? Put that on your web site! Now any song that him
(Bill Monroe) and Lester sung in G, me and him move it up in A. Anything
they done in A we do it in B. And so Bill was singing Blue Moon Of
Kentucky in A, he recorded it in
A, FOLLOW ME? (continued)»
JIMMY MARTIN "TOGETHERNESS"
The 1954 version of that band was
There ain't a band as tight right now.. There ain't a band like me and the
Osborne Brothers were tight.. like me and JD Crowe and Paul Williams was
tight. Bill Emerson, that group was tight. other words... but
I kept it tight...and we lived in the same town together.. we traveled
together. Now we don't travel together, there's no family, no nuthing...
Put this in there... The artist his band
and everything are separated... its no togetherness. And how can you play music together when your
band is not with you... not nothing together.
I bet yeah I don't say 15 words....
15 words to neither one of my band in ten summers. and that's negotiating
with them. They don't have nothing to say to me... or nothing. They sitting around waiting
till they get their money! When they get their money there gone. And when they come
up to a festival, I'm sitting on the bus... sitting there by myself. neither one of my bands
is sitting there talking to me. Now use to be we'd talk together. And visit together...
be together... but there is no togetherness
JIMMY MARTIN "THE OPRY"
Well... Then I done a few spots on the Grand Ole Opry as guest.
Then Bob Neon and the Williming Brothers, I was working through their office,
they didn't have enough a power to get me guest spot on the Grand Ole Opry
anymore till Bud Windell got down there. Then I was guest...
and every time I was guest there I'd encore a few times and Bud Windell told
me, personally, that I would be a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
That the Opry fans liked the way I entertained and play Bluegrass music, and I
would be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. BUT, some'en had
come up that Mr. Windell did not make me a member. And I did not feel
hard at him. I know what he was up against. I think everybody
knows what Mr. Windell was up against. Cause, Roy Acuff had
already told me that Bill told him, that he would
resign and quit the Grand Ole Opry it they let me become a member
FIDDLER BOBBY HICKS
"THE EARLY YEARS" PART 1
Jim Moss: So your main instrument was the fiddle, however, I have seen video from the 1950s that shows you playing banjo in the Monroe band as well as fiddle.
Bobby Hicks: Yeah, I use to play banjo for him when somebody would quit and until he hired somebody else...
...I was just playing bass for him for two weeks that Carlton Haney, you know Carlton Haney? Carlton Haney had booked him for two weeks around my home when I lived in Greensboro North Carolina.
Bill was coming to town but he didn't have a bass player. And so Carlton came
to my house and asked me if I'd play bass with Bill for two weeks. I said sure I'd go
out and do it for two weeks, but I wasn't working for Bill at the time. I was just helping him out for a couple of weeks.
And on the last night. The last day of those two weeks was Burlington North Carolina...
and uh. He asked me if I wanted to go to Nashville and play fiddle for him. Cause he would
let me play one fiddle thing, you know... he knew I was a fiddle player. So he let me play
one fiddle tune on every show. And on the last night he asked me if I wanted to go to
Nashville with him. He didn't have to ask me but once...
JACK HICKS "CHROMATIC BANJO IN THE BLUEGRASS BOYS"
Jim Moss: So how did you get asked to play with Monroe?
Jack Hicks: Well... You know we went to Bean Blossom for years. I think we started going the second one. And.. I just got to know him through that you know.
Jim Moss: So when did you start moving away from Scruggs style?
Jack Hicks: When I was young. It wasn't long after I first started playing I started
varying off. I'll tell you... Eddie Adcock was one of my heroes. He really was, I mean.
He was just way good to me... and still is. I still think a world of him. He taught me so much it was unreal.
Jim Moss: And he was playing that bluesy chromatic stuff?
Jack Hicks: No he wasn't playing that, but you know... He just taught me to play
whatever I wanted to. (laughs) you know... And then when I got with Bill, Bill let me. He let me play whatever.
Jim Moss: When I talked with you ten years ago, you said that you actually played what Bill wanted you to play. How much influence did Bill have on you?
Jack Hicks: He had a lot. He really had a lot on me.
Jim Moss: As far as the bluesy chromatic notes?
Jack Hicks: Well, what he did was he allowed me to play it.
Like "You Won't Be Satisfied That Way" and stuff like that. He encouraged me to do whatever... to get out there on that limb. Sometimes I would chop it off, but...
He'd let me go for whatever...r
Photograph by Dixon Smith
BOY RICHARD GREENE
Jim Moss: When he (Monroe) would teach you a tune... how much detail would he express to you.
I have this tape and he just plays it for you.. but when you didn't do it his way
did he correct you? or ...
Richard Greene: Well, you couldn't do it exactly that way because he played
a lot of double notes, but what I would do is I would notate everything he did...
very precisely. Every double note... And then, instead of using a double note
I would work on a slide of some kind. Usually from a half step below.. or I would make it a longer note.. I would acknowledge the Arc of his melody
with... complete religiosity. Wouldn't change that a bit. Whatever moment
in time that he would show me the melody.. cause it would be a different
melody the next week... (continued)»
Photograph by Dixon Smith
BOY LAMAR GRIER TALKS...
Lamar: When I first was with Bill, we made on each show date $25. That was the musicians union rate. A year later it went up to $30. The next year it went to $33 per show/day. How's them apples? I've heard of
previous Bluegrass Boys saying that when living in Nashville, they were housed in the YMCA where they
had a room. Then they had to call Bill on the phone daily to get enough money from him to get the days
needs for meals - like $5. I had to get a part time job when we were back in Nashville for the days when
we weren't on the road to pay the ongoing bills like rent & food needs for my family. Jimmy Martin found me
a part time job at a convenience store working overnight for minimum pay at the time, just to acquire family needs.
Needless to say, things markedly improved financially when I left & went back home to Maryland. I had a home there that I rented out while I was in Nashville & then moved
back into that home
when I returned there. I still live in that home. I soon got a job with IBM and stayed with them for
about 17 years then got a better paying job in the... (continued)»
ONE OF BILL MONROE'S
Jim Moss: Tell me about that time Frank
Wakefield came on stage with you guys, Monroe and all..
Wayne: You know that happened back in... in 1984.
It was at Mount Gilead Ohio. Yeah, he was on the bus. They were playing these tunes all back and forth
and uh, Bill... Bill told him... he said uh, and Frank was booked there at the festival.
On my show, you'll have to come up and do a number with us. So they played something, I can't remember what it was. Frank played more
than Bill did... and Bill told him, "That's really good", "That's really good pickin there".
and he (Monroe) was really bragging him up. Then the next tune, Bill played most of the tune and did
the star bit on it. And uh.. Frank said, "Man that's bad man, that's really bad".
So when Monroe hit that last lick on the tune, the crowd was just ripping and roaring.
Cause here was two great mandolin players. And uh.. Frank just stepped up to the microphone
and he said, "Man that's bad man, that's really bad"
And Monroe just kind of looked at him with that look like... "What are you saying?"
Bill says, "What do you mean bad? You don't know what you are saying". Frank said, "Bill I'm just backing talkwards". Bill said, "You're talkin crazy what You're doing"
Man that is just one of those good stories,
ONE OF BILL MONROE'S
Wayne: I was paid a flat
amount for singing, which was union. Well, it was better than union scale.
Baker and I were probably the highest paid band members he had. Me and
Baker, he paid us the same money. But he uh... If I sold records. If I went to
the record table and sold records, then I got 15 percent of what I sold. and
uh... He and I had that agreement before... You know, I told him if you ask me
to do something then you'll have to pay me cause I figure that you will have
to pay somebody else to do it. If I volunteer to do something, you don't owe
me. and uh... One reason I made more money than the rest of us because I
was... you know
I took care of all the business on the road. And I made sure that the motels
were there. I made sure that everything was taking care of. I was road
manager, band leader, guitar player, and singer.
And I didn't mind doing it as long as I could make a living. That was my whole
thing. And like Monroe use to say "most musicians are lazy" they
won't... Well, number one they
can't get out of bed. If they play half the night, they won't get out of bed
the next morning. you know.. And me, I never slept more than three, four
hours at a time. And so I could sit up half the night and pick, and then sleep
three and a half, four hours, and I was up and I was ready to go. Me and
Monroe was up the next morning when we was on the road... he and
I were up, and out, taken care of business. you know and.... I stayed with him
pretty close ...(continued)»
HIS LLOYD LOAR MANDOLIN
Frank: I was working at
Generous Electric and I had access to all that stuff…bakelite… epoxy and
Jim: and that’s when you made it, so this bridge has been on there
Right.. yeah. I use to sell those bridges. I didn’t
actually sell them I actually gave them away. And they never wore out.. the
one I have now you don’t even have to sand the top of it cause it don’t
wear. So then I got up here and I was going to make it sound
better… So I put a coat of Spray Paint on it!
Which color now?
Frank: It was RED… ha ha ha
Jim: And you used what kind of paint?
Frank: Just a regular can of spray paint..
So where did you get this from… a car store?
Jim: Epoxy paint?
Frank: I am not sure if it was or not I don’t remember. So I
figure I’d dry it and bake and everything… I baked it for a while for
about 300… well about
110 or 120 degrees something like that..
Jim: In the oven?
SHORT INTERVIEW ABOUT
THE EARLY DAYS
Frank... Tell me about your earliest musical instrument.. Frank:
I had a guitar that I played with a case knife.
What's a case knife?
Frank: A butter knife, a lot of people call it a
case knife... a regular butter knife that ain't sharp. You've seen those
right? know what those are?
Yeah, I have them here.
Frank: Ya do...? What do they call them
Frank: Oh.. Ok.. fact that is probably what it
So you use to play with that? You didn't pick up a piece of pipe or a
Nooo. We never had no bottles around... moonshiners..
had moonshiners around that would buy old bottles from you. ha ha ...
Is that right? Was there a lot of moonshiners there back then?
Yeah, they had to have bottles of glass, they would use quart bottles, gallon
bottles, milk bottles... anything that was glass. There wernt no plastic in
those days... everything was glass.
So what would they do just come by asking for them?
they'd give you a nickel for a glass bottle, that was a lot of money back
They couldn't buy the glass I guess cause...
Frank: No... they
would get caught that way... have em.. put em in jail. My first cousin
he drank it, he drank a pint of that moonshine. He died right after he
drank it. He paid for someone to drink some first.. in case something
It's an interesting part of Americana isn't it?
Yeah it is.. them Ole billhillys
FRANK BEGAN PLAYING MANDOLIN
I was playing for the snake handlers, I heard all those people singing.
A person would get up and sing solo and a couple people would get up and sing
some harmonies. When I started hearing them I was right involved with
it. They was real billhillies. You could call it Bluegrass because
they would do songs like “You go to your synagogue and I’ll go to mine”
you’ve heard of that one.
(laughs).…or was it “you go to my synagogue and I will go to my church”?
WAKEFIELD ON FILM: http://www.rentalfilm.com/frankwakefield/
Great Review of 2002 Seattle FWB Show on TrueGrass:
Photos from the Pacific North West Tour:
(extra large page)
Adventures in Bluegrass II (Real
Frank Wakefield, Jim Moss, Jeff Harris, Graham Murphy,
(FWB Berkeley CA 2001):
Inn, NYC November 2004
Wakefield, Jim Moss, Jim Lewin
The links are on the left side just above the pictures. These
were recorded on DAT using the
silver mics seen on stage with us in the pictures, by one of the
many fans who
follow the band to record the shows.
Adventures in Bluegrass 8
Wakefield, Jim Moss, Jim Lewin
(FWB East Hartford CT 2004):
Windows Media 9)
Preview of :
Adventures in Bluegrass 9
(Windows Media 9)
and (Real Media)
Boy Lamar Grier talks...
his time with Bill Monroe, Part 1.
Wakefield's Walk Through Time
Frank Wakefield talks about his experiences with Red Allen,
The Stanley Brothers.
"Tanyards" From Bill Monroe then...
the first recording of it. (Jim Moss)
From The Karla'graph Collection
The Sullivan Family
Bean Blossom June 2001 (Streaming Video)
Moss Bluegrass Fiddle web site.
Learn "Cattle In The Cane" (Jim Moss)
BACK IN TIME
So, you think that you have been to jam sessions?
Try this one on for size, its 1957...
Joe Stuart, Joe Meadows and a few friends come over...
to your house... hear it now on mp3.
Richard Greene: Part 1
recording Kenny Baker's Dry & Dusty album
Talks About Recording In The 1950's
( Parts 1, 2 , 3 )
Upcoming Interviews yet to be transcribed:
"Richard Greene, Bluegrass Fiddle with Bill Monroe: Part 2 plus"
"Jimmy Martin Part 4 plus"
"Jesse McReynolds Part 5 plus"
Lewis, Being one of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys Part 3 plus"
"Bluegrass Boy Lamar Grier,
Part 2 plus"
KENNY BAKER SPECIAL SITE
Great photos and a live recording of Kenny Baker
with Bob Black at Bean Blossom. This was the first
time they ever played together. It was after midnight
at Bean Blossom. http://www.mossware.com/scoop/
To Main Bluegrass Menu Page
2008 Bluegrass Newsletter
2007 Bluegrass Newsletter
Jim Moss Web Site a Mossware LLC Production