The Tradition

Smokey Davis with the Tenneva Ramblers

Bluegrass Funnyman

In the formative days of bluegrass, bands sought to offer a well-rounded entertainment package. Music, naturally, was the core of the programs but comedy was always an important component. Ralph Stanley, in speaking of the early days of the Stanley Brothers, recalled that “we used a comedian all the time; somebody would dress up and…

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Group photo of Pendleton “Uncle Pen” Vandiver, Arnold Shultz, Unkown, Luther Shultz (Photo courtesy of Roger Givens) playing their instruments

A “Hidden Legend” Steps into the Spotlight

The Arnold Shultz Fund is launched in honor of influential western Kentucky musician In July 2020, the IBMA Foundation established the Arnold Shultz Fund to support activities increasing participation of people of color in bluegrass music. Arnold Shultz (1886–1931) was an African American musician from western Kentucky who had a profound influence on Bill Monroe’s…

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Jimmy Martin poses for a portrait with his guitar

Hall of Famers Unveiled

Jimmy Martin As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the bluegrass genre, Bluegrass Unlimited magazine will look deep into what made those first-generation bluegrass artists tick.  At the magnificent and sprawling Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, KY, the venue seeks to tell the story of bluegrass music by going…

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Old-Time Music and Bluegrass: Separate But Intertwining Branches

There are certain questions that anyone who plays bluegrass has encountered more than once from well-intentioned (mostly) listeners.  “Is that a ukulele?” to the mandolinist.  “What’s the difference between a fiddle and a violin?” (Generally, about $50,000 a year). “Do you know ‘Wagon Wheel?’” (No!!!) Right up there amongst them is, “What’s the difference between…

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Notes & Queries – November

NOTES In the August 2020 “Notes & Queries,” we fielded a query about the jam-session favorite and popular bluegrass number, “Love Please Come Home,” and its writer Leon Jackson. Leon, with his partner Johnny Bryant, fronted a band called the White Oak Mountain Boys. The group made at least eight recordings for the King label…

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Preston Thompson's guitar with his name

Guitar Shop Honors Master Luthier Preston Thompson

A number of today’s top bluegrass guitar players are playing guitars that have been built by the crew at Preston Thompson Guitars in Sisters, Oregon.  The Master Luthier who started this company, Preston Thompson, sadly passed away in April of 2019.  Although Preston is no longer with us, the luthiers who worked with him are continuing his legacy building…

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