Hooked on Bluegrass

Ivan Rosenberg

I’m originally from Greenbrae, California. Growing up, there was usually music on the stereo; my parents both played guitar and piano, and Dad even played some sitar. Anyway, there was plenty of good music in the record cabinet, and I started learning some Taj Mahal, Mississippi John Hurt, and Doc Watson fingerpicking guitar songs when I was in high school.

I was a regular attendee at the Freight and Salvage as soon as I could drive. While attending Humboldt State University in Arcata, CA, I saw a tour of several guitarists called "Masters of the Steel String Guitar" -- I think in 1991. Jerry Douglas was there representing the resonator guitar. He played his "New Day Medley" and "Emphysema Two-step" and I was hooked -- I bought an old Dobro® the very next morning.

I’ve been trying to make it lonesome on the Dobro ever since. I've played most of my bluegrass out here in Missoula, Montana, where there's a thriving acoustic music scene. I’ve released 2 CDs (and an accompanying Tab book) of resonator guitar music, "Back to the Pasture" and "The Lost Coast." I wrote or co-wrote all of the instrumentals on both CDs, which feature musicians from Chris Stuart & Backcountry, Lost Highway, and Kane’s River, as well as Chad Manning and Jason Mowery.

While I've taught Dobro for several years, lately I've been getting into teaching even more. Teaching at the British Columbia Bluegrass Workshop with Chris Stuart & Backcountry last year was a big success, and it was really rewarding to see everyone improve on just the first day. And I just taught the first of a series of workshops to beginning players in Hamilton, Montana. Most of the 14 or so attendees were in their 60s or 70s, and it was fantastic seeing them all trying something new. I'll be teaching at the Sore Fingers Week bluegrass camp in the UK in April and at the BCBW in August [that was in 2006], and I'm really looking forward to the CBA camp!

(posted 3/5/2006)

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