Hooked on Bluegrass
Wayne Taylor - US Navy Band
I learned I could carry a tune in a bucket when I was about 11 years old, 1963. My brother David and a few of his friends had a band called the Initials. David played bass; they had a lead guitarist and a drummer. Later they asked me to play rhythm. The Initials played pop songs, mostly songs people danced to, because that's mostly where we played, dances.
My job was to sing backup, no lead singing. It was good training for me. Plus I was scared to sing lead. I played with the Initials through the 6th, and 7th, grade. When I reached the eighth grade I started my own band called the Contours. We had a keyboard player, drummer, lead singer, saxophone, trumpet, and bass, I played lead and sang back up. We played mostly what we called Soul Music.
During High School I played in a group called the Heavy, a rock band, where I was rhythm guitarist playing on a Mosrite 12 string. We played covers by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Blue Cheer, The Doors, and so on.
After graduating High School is when I discovered bluegrass. David Parker, a friend and neighbor, introduced me to Lester Flatt. I attended my first bluegrass festival at Spruce Pine North Carolina. It was the first annual in 1972. Appearing were Mac Wiseman, Lester Flatt and Marty Stuart. Marty was a young man at that time and took a solo on the guitar that just blew me away. I thought how could a guy that young be so good. I got busy
David and I started a bluegrass group called the East Maiden Express. David played guitar so I took the mandolin. We found Barry Myers from Union Grove who played the banjo and Aaron Steelmon from Newton played the bass. We played standards and were heavily influenced by the Country Gentlemen, Tony Rice, Lester, Jimmy Martin, and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
We played locally for a year then landed a gig in Estes Park, Colorado at the Chalet. We played three nights a week and had a lot of fun. There was another band in Estes Park called the Straw Dawgs who were just breaking up so we joined forces with Spanky the bass guitarist, and Rudy the lead guitarist. We already had a bass man so Spanky played the washboard.
After several months of living out of Spanky's parents garage with no heat in the mid winter we decided to head back to North Carolina. Spanky and Rudy went with us. Had I not been a good pool shooter, I doubt if we would have ever made it home. Our last gig was at Union Grove Fiddler's Convention, where there were close to 100K people. It was a huge audience.
Shortly thereafter we broke up and that's when I joined the Navy for the first time, 1974.
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