Hooked on Bluegrass

Ian Gilmore



I'm not sure hooked is the right word. For me, it was more like corrupted or seduced. I came to bluegrass as a real outsider. First, there is not a lot of bluegrass where I grew up in northern Alberta, Canada. Second, while my mother played country around the house, I hated it and was a rock music fan – classic rock, progressive rock, heavy metal. But I always had a soft spot for the sound of a fiddle, mainly in celtic music.

One evening in San Francisco, I stopped by the Plough and Stars to see who was playing. I almost left when I heard it was going to be what they called a C&W band rather than celtic but I stayed and was blown away by the guitar playing by James Nash in the Waybacks. As I found out, it wasn't bluegrass but I had never heard anyone play the acoustic guitar like that!

I looked around for a guitar teacher and lucked into finding Jack Tuttle at Gryphon Stringed Instruments. I started off liking the bluegrass instrumentals he showed me and only with time came to appreciate bluegrass vocals.

If there was any one thing that got me hooked, I'd say it was trying to play music at jams. Now I'm a dyed in the wool traditional bluegrass fan. I don't listen to much else, other than the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin or people following in their stylistic footprints.

(posted 2/3/2008)


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