Big Mon’s 105th Birthday, Viking Twang’s 100th Episode!

Written by on September 13, 2016

billmonroe_wide-71374144b8c0912b23d5ce0ec236fbcb0c6113b0-s800-c85bill-monroe-50staoofbluegrass

Viking Twang Show 100, Sept. 14, 2016
Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 100! It’s a big milestone for our little hillbilly radio show, and we have a big star to celebrate with.

Yesterday would have been Bill Monroe’s 105th birthday. He was born Sept. 13, 1911 in Rosine, Kentucky, and passed away Sept. 9, 1996, in Nashville. So we’re going to celebrate both those events, along with our milestone, with an all-Big Mon show today.

In the last half of the show we’ll play a bunch of live performances starting in 1956, promoted and recorded by the legendary promoter Ralph Rinzler, from a Smithsonian Folkways album called Off The Record: Live Recordings 1956-1969. But first, we’re going to play all eight recordings from the first session he recorded Oct. 7, 1940, in Atlanta, for RCA Victor after the breakup of the Monroe Brothers, his original band with his brothers Charlie and Birch. The band is Clyde Moody on vocals and guitar, Tommy Magness on fiddle, and Bill Wesbrooks on bass.

1 – Turkey Red, W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.
2 – Mule Skinner Blues.
3 – No Letter In The Mail.
4 – Cryin’ Holy Unto My Lord.
5 – Six White Horses.
6 – Dog House Blues.
7 – I Wonder If You Feel The Way I Do.
8 – Katy Hill.
9 – Tennessee Blues.

The recordings in the first set established Bill Monroe as a recording and touring star; even the music itself took its name from that of his band, the Blue Grass Boys. But as rock and roll took over in the mid 50s, it became harder even for a big star as Bill to find work and get promoted properly.

The famed promoter and archivist Ralph Rinzler felt that newer audiences would respond to Bill if they could just hear him. Among the results of Ralph’s efforts were tours with Bill and a hot young guitar player named Doc Watson on the college and folk-club scene. At the same time, Ralph promoted shows for Bill in the late 50s and early 60s. He gathered these recordings into a Smithsonian Folkways album called Off The Record: Live Recordings 1956-1969, released in 1993. We’ll start with some songs from 1956.

10 – Watermelon Hanging From The Vine; his regular opening number at the time. From the New River Ranch in Rising Sun, Maryland, May 13, 1956, with Yates Green on guitar and vocals, Bobby Hicks and Joe Stuart on fiddle, Rudy Lyle on banjo, and Bessie Lee Mauldlin on bass.
11 – Roanoke: This is from New Year’s Eve, 1954, also at New River Ranch, with that same great double fiddling from Bobby and Joe.
12 – Brakeman’s Blues: Bill was a big Jimmie Rodgers fan; Muleskinner Blues was the first song he played on the Grand Old Opry. This version of Brakeman’s Blues is from New River Ranch on Sept. 23, 1956, with Edd Mayfield on guitar and Clarence “Tater” Tate on fiddle.
13 – Close By: This again is from the May 1956 show at New River Ranch.
14 – Kentucky Waltz: From the September 1956 New River Ranch show.
15 – Bluegrass Stomp: Don Reno was also playing at that September show and sat in on banjo for this song. Rinzler felt that Reno’s exuberant playing pushed Monroe to create the contrasting subdued, minor-key variation that finished the song.
16 – Blue Moon of Kentucky: Another from the September Maryland show, Monroe plays it in the faster style he adopted after Elvis had a hit with it in 1954.
17 – Working On A Building: Of this song, Monroe said: “I believe that I heard the Carter Family sing that song, and we got requests for it on our show dates and I thought that I should learn it. It’s a holiness number I would say. You know there’s holiness singing in my music, bluegrass music.”
18 – Angels Rock Me To Sleep: This has the great gospel trio singing of Bill with lead singer Yates Green and the bass of Bobby Hicks.
19 – Wheel Hoss: An energetic instrumental featuring Bobby Hicks and Joe Stuart on the twin fiddles.
20 – True Life Blues: We’re moving out of the 50s and Maryland to California in the 1960s. This was recorded at the legendary Los Angeles folk club Ash Grove in April, 1963, with quite a band: Del McCoury on guitar and vocals, Bill Keith on banjo, Kenny Baker on fiddle, and Bessie Lee Maudlin on bass.
21 – I Live In The Past: This was written by Bill’s long-time friend Virginia Stauffer and recorded in May, 1966 at the Gaslight Café in New York City, with Peter Rowan on guitar and vocals, Lamar Grier on banjo, Richard Green on fiddle, and Bill’s son James on bass.
22 – Wayfaring Stranger: This is from a concert at the home of the great fiddler, Tex Logan, in June, 1966, with Peter Rowan on guitar and vocal and Richard Greene on fiddle.
23 – Twang Theme: Countrypolitans
24 – Y’all Come: Bill’s longtime closing number, from Oct. 31, 1964 at Boston’s Jordan Hall, with Peter Rowan, Bill Keith, Tex Logan, and Everett Allen Lilly.

Playlist:

Track

Artist

Album

  • Turkey Red
    W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground
    Kansawyer
  • Mule Skinner Blues
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Essential Bill Monroe & the Monroe Brothers
  • No Letter In The Mail
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Collection '36-'59
  • Cryin' Holy To The Lord
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Essential Bill Monroe & the Monroe Brothers
  • Six White Horses
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Collection '36-'59
  • Dog House Blues
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Collection '36-'59
  • I Wonder If You Feel The Way I Do
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Collection '36-'59
  • Katy Hill
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Essential Bill Monroe & the Monroe Brothers
  • Tennessee Blues
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    The Essential Bill Monroe & the Monroe Brothers
  • Watermelon Hanging From The Vine
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Roanoke
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Brakeman's Blues
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Close By
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Kentucky Waltz
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Bluegrass Stomp
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Blue Moon of Kentucky
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Working On A Building
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Angels Rock Me To Sleep
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • True Life Blues
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • I Live In the Past
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Wayfaring Stranger
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Y'all come
    Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys
    Live Recordings 1956-1969: Off The Record
  • Twang Theme
    Countrypolitans
    Tired of Drowning

  • Show Notes & Show Blogs

    All SHOW BLOGS
    All SHOW NOTES


    Reader's opinions

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    Font Resize
    Skip to content