Bob Black on Recording Kenny Baker's "Dry and Dusty" Album

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 A short interview with Bob Black conducted by Jim Moss 10-21-97:
 NOTE: If permission to reprint this is granted by owner, each part must presented
in its entirety with the "by line" and URL ""


JM: Well, Bob you know that I have an audio file of your first jam 
session (1973) with Kenny Baker up on the web site, tell me how 
did that come about and didn't you record the Dry and Dusty album
around that time?

BB:  Kenny was going to do an album... he already had in mind the tunes 
that he was going to do and he jammed on those tunes all weekend.  We 
were just the ones that he was jamming with.. all weekend.  Well, actually 
it was during the week, I guess, and so he used us on the album.

JM: Who was that playing guitar?  Was that Al Murphy?

BB: Right, ah huh... Lonnie Feiner on bass, I don't know what ever 
happened to him...

JM: Lonnie Feiner had played with High Country before that record. 
Ya know, I remember during the jam... there was a guy named Rosebud 
playing the bass.

BB: Oh yeah, there was ah....  I remember Rosebud, I didn't know that 
he played... well yeah he might had played some bass.

JM: Who was this Rosebud?

BB: Someone that Kenny knows, I don't remember who, I just know 
they called him Rosebud... Kenny would know, he could tell you exactly 
who he was.

JM: So, how did you record this album "Dry and Dusty"?

BB: We recorded it at "The Orchard Hill Motel" in Nashville Indiana.

JM: Was Dave Freeman there at the time?

BB: Dave Freeman was there and...   I think John Kaparakis was there too, if  I 
am not mistaken.  Somebody chopped some mandolin cords on it..  It might 
have been Dave Freeman.

(Note: John Kaparakis is listed on the albums credits and Dave Freeman of 
COUNTY RECORDS claims to have played mandolin on "Kenny Baker Country") 

JM: Dave Freeman plays?  I know he owns County Records, I guess I never knew about his also being a musician.

BB: Yeah, I just went and got the album and he is not listed on the album 
as playing anything, but he was chopping mandolin cords on some of that stuff.
I can see here that it was in June of 1973 recorded by Paul Gerry.

JM: So, how did you get invited and then go over to the motel room?

BB: Well, we just, got to jamming with Kenny... and it was just working 
out real good so he asked us to go do the album.  Dave Freeman had been 
after him to do this album I guess. So we just went over there and did it.

JM: Were you surprised that he did the recording in a motel?

BB:  Well, a little bit, although I knew he had done that before... on I think one 
or two of his other albums before that had been done in motel rooms.

JM: It is pretty good quality... they are definitely classic fiddle albums.. not 
bad for a motel room.

BB: Yeah! ... Dave Freeman had a portable recorder that was real good, I 
mean a real expensive one you know...

JM: Yeah, was it a multi track?

BB: Yeah, I think so.

JM: because it is a stereo album right?

BB: Well, that is funny... it doesn't say anything about stereo on the album. 
So, I don't know about that...

Left to Right: Bob Black, Randy Davis,
Bill Monroe 
( Bluegrass Boys 1975).

JM: Tell me more.. I heard stories about mattresses...

BB: They took mattresses off the beds and put them up against the wall and ah...

JM: How many beds were there?

BB: I don't remember that... I think it was a single.  I think the beds might 
have come apart and leaned up against the wall... to make more room in there.

JM: Do you think he put the mattresses up against the wall to deaden the 
room or to...

BB: Ah huh, well both, to deaden the sound and to make more room in there.

JM: That must have been a real interesting experience... to go into a motel
room... and the room you think was a regular Motel 6 size room... 
I mean 10' x 10' or so?

BB: Yeah.. but it was one of those older kind of motels where everything is 
on the first floor.  Just a one story building and you can park right in front of 
your room..  you know... one of those kind of motels.

JM: I know the type, in High Country we traveled in my van which had an
alarm...  a very loud siren, and Kevin Thompson our bass player, and I remember this happening to Larry Cohie too, they would need to go out to the van to get something at one of these motels out on the road and forget to turn off the alarm.  Man... about 4 am... I am telling you we must have given many of couples absolute heart attacks with the front of that van pointed right into their motel room.

Of course that never happened to me...
Did you have any problems with people honking their horns?

BB: No..  I don't remember any... well, I am sure there were problems like that, 
but  I was so hyped up and nervous from doing this recording that... this was the first recording I ever did! With anybody... So I was just really... yeah, I was all 
nervous ha ha!

JM: Do you remember what kind of microphones they used?

BB: No.. I wish I did.  I don't have any idea.

JM: As you remember do you think they were studio mics or ...

BB: No. they were good mics... yeah, good quality mics.. They were not 
PA mics.

JM: So, this was in the daytime that you recorded?  Must have gone for a 
few hours right?

BB: Yeah, we might have spent a couple of days on it too... and then he would 
have to go and play in the evening, I think, with Monroe.  So, I think it started in 
the morning actually, but I don't know my memory is pretty faulty on a lot of this  stuff anymore.

JM: So you didn't record into the night then...

BB: No, we didn't go into the night time hours at all.  So Kenny probably had to 
play shows like the early evening show and the night show.  So, we had to quit 
in time for him to go and do that.

JM: So, if it took a couple of times through... each song... to get it, that could 
take you a couple of days.

BB: Oh yeah, well, we didn't spend a lot of time on each one, but he didn't... 
there wasn't very many other instrumental breaks on most of that stuff, just 
him playing the fiddle... playing these tunes several times through.  I played 
a couple of breaks on some of the things... on "Sweet Bunch Of Daisies", 
"Gray Eagle", "Rocky Road To Dublin".   I think I played "Sally Goodin", 
but ya know... maybe only four or five tunes did I take a break on... and there
wasn't any other lead instruments taking any breaks on anything.

JM: Did you each have a microphone or did you play into one microphone or..

BB: We each had our own mic.  So there was... it was a multi track machine...
it had to have been..., but portable.. it was about the size of a reel to reel tape 
deck basically.

JM: A reel to reel tape deck like a Teac or something like that?

BB: Yeah, that was about that size.  I have to say I didn't pay much attention 
to the technical end of it cause I was so worried about my playing.

JM: Well, it sounds like you definitely impressed them from this tape of 
Gray Eagle that I have on the site.  I remember this tape was made between 
3:30 and 4:30 in the morning.

BB: Ahh, ha ha.... I can't wait to hear that. I have a few tapes of jam sessions 
from a long time ago, but I don't think I have anything that goes back that far.

JM: There was another fiddler there... Smokey....?

BB: Smokey McKinnis,

JM: Yeah, during one of the tapes made that evening, Smokey offers you a 
soda... or something... and you say "Poor it over my head".  He later says 
"Kenny these two, you can't wear them out, they will go all night" and 
Kenny says "they play might fine music".  It was a pretty hot jam
session back then... on this Gray Eagle when you start to play Kenny's notes 
that he plays going up the E string, everyone yells "Woooo".

BB: Well, it was a lot easier to impress people back in those days then it 
is now man.  Boy you gotta be hot to get much reaction these days.

JM: Well, lets see here... Did you make any more albums with Kenny in 
these motel rooms?

BB: Ahhh, No I think that was the only motel room recording.  I think the next 
one was the "Grassy Fiddle Blues" album and I don't think that was done in 
a motel... I think that was done in a Nashville recording studio... I think.

JM: You recorded "The Frost On The Pumpkin" right?

BB: Yes, well I played on half of the cuts.

JM: And that was recorded at Bradley's Barn?

BB: I am not sure on that and I don't have a copy of it to look... (later, after 
looking at the album I found that it was recorded at Pete's Place, in Nashville)

BB: The only one that I remember being recorded at Bradley's Barn was that 
Bill Monroe album, the "Weary Traveler" album.  It was recorded in 
Owen Bradley's place.

JM: How was it to work with Bradley?

BB: Oh he was real nice, although again, I was so worried about my playing 
that I didn't pay much attention to what was going on around me.  I was just 
concentrating on my playing, man.

JM:  Ya know I think he recorded Patsy Cline and many many other
classic country performers.

BB: Oh I know he recorded a lot of really famous people and he has written 
some songs too. He plays piano.

JM: Well, thanks for that insight into those early recordings Bob and people 
reading this should know that they can download the recording I made of 
"Gray Eagle" from that night in 1973 from this web site.   The file is 1.0 meg 
and may take as long as 3 mins to download on a 28.8 connection, but it is 
worth it. You will be tabbing it out for the site which will be offered free. 
What else can we tell the folks who may wish to get your music and tab... 
we have complete tab of both of my albums that you play on that is for sale 
and the same for your first banjo album "Ladies On The Steamboat".   Now 
we will also have tab and the recordings of these two new projects that we 
will be starting Nov. 1 as soon as they are finished. Just keep an eye on this 
web site. 

... end ...


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