Bluegrass 45 and their 1971 Tour— Week 3
During week three of Bluegrass 45’s tour of the United States in 1971 they performed at their third bluegrass festival. The first was Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom, the second was the Country Gentleman’s Indian Ranch festival, and this week found them at Carlton Haney’s festival in Berryville, Virginia. As is evident in Akira Otsuka’s journal entries, they continued to be thrilled with having the opportunity to meet and jam with first and second generation bluegrass performers. They also enjoyed performing for bluegrass fans in America.
Ronnie Reno was on the road that summer with the Osborne Brothers and performed at several of the same festivals. When asked about hearing Bluegrass 45 play bluegrass Ronnie said, “I remember sitting on the side of the stage and watching them play and saying “Hi” to the guys when I saw them. They were very courteous. I was always so impressed with them. They had a great deal of enthusiasm because they loved the music and they were having fun. They were so excited, they were almost giddy. They waved the bluegrass flag high and my hat is off to those guys.”
Fred Bartenstein was doing MC work at several of the festivals where the band performed that summer. When he was asked about the band, Fred said, “I first met the members of Bluegrass 45 at Bean Blossom in June of 1971. Later that month I was one of the MCs at the Country Gentlemen’s Festival at Webster, Massachusetts, and recall introducing them from the stage. We became closer friends at Camp Springs, North Carolina, Labor Day Weekend of that year. I was the technical advisor to the feature-length movie filmed at that festival, Bluegrass Country Soul. I helped the director (Albert Ihde) and the band select the repertoire that was filmed. The released movie gave the Bluegrass 45 as much screen time as featured stars the Country Gentlemen and the Osborne Brothers. The musical and visual quality of Bluegrass 45’s performance deserved that attention. That movie appearance was one of the most important factors in communicating that bluegrass had become a global phenomenon. I also worked with the 1972 version of the band when I was MC and festival director at a number of the US festivals that summer. Over the next 50 years I have maintained a cordial though geographically distant relationship with the band, mostly with Akira Otsuka and the late Saburo Watanabe Inoue. I caught up with them again (and maybe introduced them from the stage) at ROMP in Owensboro, Kentucky, in 2006, on one of the band’s rare but welcome reunion appearances in the United States.”
Below we provide Akira Otsuka’s journal entries from Week 3. If you’d like to see more great photos that Akira took that weekend, you can find them here: http://frobbi.org/akira/1971Berryville/index.htmlhttp://frobbi.org/akira/1971Berryville/index.html
Bluegrass 45 1971 US Tour
Week 03(7/01 – 7/07)
1971-7-1 Day Off
We walked to Dick’s house and washed the bus. Our fiddler, Liao had a tooth operation. Cliff Waldron came by and took his generator. We erased “The Country Gentlemen” and painted “ぶるうぐらす四拾伍” by the door and “神戸 Bluegrass 45 日本” on the front, but it started raining so we had to quit.
7/2/1971 Friday – Carlton Haney’s Festival in Berryville, Virginia
Got up at 8 am. Packed up and left in a hurry. However, the bus broke down only a mile or 2 from the house. Dick called his wife, Sheila and she took Liao to a dentist while Dick fixed the bus. One hour later we’re on the road and arrived at Berryville, Virginia 2 hours later. We set up the tent and canopy, and started preparing for the stage. Eddie Adcock came over and taught our banjo player, Sab “Green Mountain Hop.” Went over to the stage and I was surprised to see Frank Wakefield playing with Del McCoury – ‘Sitting On Top Of The World.” Also the Lily Brothers, Tex Logan, Don Stover and John Palmer were playing together – excellent!
Our daytime set:
- Raise a Ruckus (our theme song)
- Old Joe Clark (fiddle tune)
- Little Annie (featuring bass player Toshio’s vocal)
- Green Mountain Hop (banjo instrumental number)
- Red Rocking Chair (featuring Akira’s vocal)
- Someday Soon (Ian Tyson song sung by my brother, Josh)
- Bluegrass Breakdown (mandolin instrumental)
- Katy Cline (a traditional song sung by Josh)
- Come Home, My Dear One (Josh’s original)
- How Far to Berryville (comedy song)
- Raise a Ruckus
- Mocking Bird (fiddle tune)
- Little Annie (featuring Toshio)
- Fuji Mountain Breakdown (Mozart’s Turkish March arranged by Josh for banjo)
- Red Rocking Chair (featuring Akira)
- Place In the Sun (featuring Josh on Stevie Wonder song)
- Hamabe (old Japanese song)
- Proud Mary (we stole the arrangement from Cliff Waldron)
- Encore: Foggy Mountain Breakdown (special arrangement by Josh)
1971-7-3 Saturday – Berryville
In the afternoon, went swimming with Ronnie Freeland but the water was unclear & dirty. I was expecting the Shenandoah River to be more beautiful. We met Carlton Haney’s daughter, Bonnie, and her cousin, Shelvie, — they taught us English.
- Foggy Mountain Breakdown
- Run Mountain (JE Mainer song we recorded on our first album)
- Calling You (Hank Williams song)
- Sakura (old traditional Japanese song)
- Are You Tired of Me My Darling (a song we learned from Stanley Brothers)
- Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel)
- Encore: Orange Blossom Special
We followed Hamilton County Bluegrass Band from New Zealand. Their fiddler broke a string so Liao let her use his right away. At night Eddie Adcock & Charlie Waller were jamming at a campsite. Halfway thru, I joined…El Dedo, etc. Sheila & her daughter, Tami Freeland arrived. I watched Earl Scruggs Review. “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,”“Flint Hill Special,”“Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” etc. Drums, electric bass (Gary), guitar (Randy), electric piano & banjo (Earl). I’m sad….can’t help thinking of Flatt& Scruggs concerts we saw just three years ago when they came to Japan. Completely different sound.
The Osborne Brothers followed Scruggs. They were so good and Sonny was playing a 6-string banjo!! Closing was Mac Wiseman & Frank Wakefield.
1971-7-4 Sunday– Berryville
We thought we played our last show last night but we had one more set at 5:30 pm.
- Blue Moon of Kentucky (probably the first Bluegrass song that was aired in Japan)
- How Mountain Girls Can Love (a song from the first Bluegrass LP in Japan)
- How I Miss My Darling (a song from the first Bluegrass LP in Japan)
- You Left Me to Cry (one of the most popular songs in Japan)
- Foggy Mountain Breakdown (one of the most popular instrumental numbers)
- Hamabe (Japanese song)
- Bridge Over the Troubled Water (recent pop hit)
We had a very scary spot—between Jimmy Martin and the Osborne Brothers! Mr. Haney was very pleased. Later in the evening, Mr. Haney arranged two bands to play together: Del McCoury and JD Crowe, Ralph Stanley and Mac Wiseman, and three bands with Country Gentlemen, Jimmy Martin and Osborne Brothers!! Jimmy Martin and Osborne Brothers did “Blue Eyed Darling” & “Save It”—good stuff. Jimmy Martin, Paul Williams, Bill Emerson and Bill Yates did two gospel songs—also great stuff. “Rawhide” by Ronnie Reno, Jimmy Gaudreau, Bobby Osborne and a Jimmy Martin’s mandolin player (his son?), and then “Mule Skinner Blues” by Ronnie Reno, Bobby Osborne, Jimmy Martin and Jimmy Gaudreau!!
Late at night Eddie Adcock started playing banjo by our tent. A father and son with a 1923 Gibson F5 gave us pictures and promised to see again in Kentucky.
1971-7-5 Monday – Berryville, moving into an apartment
We got up at 10 am and tore down the tent. Sheila & Tami Freeland had left already. We got back to Hyattsvillein the early afternoon. Immediately we packed our luggage that we had at Dick’s house and moved into an apartment. However, all we had to eat for dinner was left over potatoes because the stores were closed today to observe the Fourth of July.
Note: Apt #1101 Kings Park Plaza (current name) on Queens Chapel Rd in Hyattsville, Maryland. It had a great northeastern view from 11th floor.
1971-7-6 Tuesday – day off
We went to a store. Since we moved into an unfurnished place and we didn’t bring anything from home, we had to buy everything! Liao had his second tooth operation. We ate hamburgers for dinner.
1971-7-7 Wednesday– day off
Dick and John Duffey came by and dropped off Ben Eldridge’s Fender banjo for Sab to use. Dick is planning a recording session this Friday so Josh and I decided to go to Cleveland to see our sister on Friday and come back around Wednesday next week. We discussed the song selection for our album.
- Bridge Over Troubled Water
- Place in the Sun
- Bring Me Back
- Wild & Reckless Hobo
- That’s the Time
- Along the Way
- Meet Me in Heaven
- Orange Blossom Special
- Fuji Mountain Breakdown
- Salt Creek
- Black Mountain Rag
- Comin’ Home Babe