Hooked on Bluegrass

Del Williams

As a boy growing up in the 60's I was exposed to bluegrass music everyday, as my father and Ray Park practiced there singing. Not that they needed much, I think they just did it because of there love for the music.

Ray's son Larry always wanted to go outside and play, But I wanted to listen and learn. I wanted to learn to play guitar like Ray. He was my main inspiration as he had a sense of rhythm that just kept you glued to the chair wanting more. He was the finest finger picker as well. He could use every finger on his right hand to produce a style like you have never heard and I doubt I will ever hear again.

My parents could see that I was ready to learn when I was about 10 years old. And one day, while at my uncle Juniors house my mother said if you come and pick blackberries with us, dad would by you a guitar. I had on a pair of thongs, can you imagine the pain I went through but I did the best I could to fill my end of the bargain. Sure enough, they bought me a guitar and I practices on it until my fingers wouldn't allow me to go on. I would have to wait for hours before I could touch it without it hurting.

Larry was way ahead of me by this time even though he was 2 years younger, but I tried my best to catch up with him. But I never did. I could help him play songs but he was such a good lead player. Later in the decade I used to listen to Dad, Ray and Herb Peterson practice there trios, and gained a lot of appreciation for singing, but I never really learned how to sing until 1974 when I started playing a lot with dad and Keith Little and we would sit around the kitchen and sing every weekend. I took many hours to learn to sing with the best in the business!

I think the fortunate part of this for me, is the fact that by the time I was 10 years old I had heard many many songs. As a child you pick up tunes and word so easy. Once I knew how to play it was easy to recall all the tunes and follow right along with them. I can't imagine trying to learn a new kind of music now. I gotta say, I can still listen to "Little cabin on home on the Hill", with Bill, Lester and Earl and get goose bumps.

I love this music and never once in my life, tried to play any other kind of music. And I never will. It's in my heart and I can live with that just fine. It's nice to be yourself and that's ok with folks. My dad always said "you got to give it all you got, you have to pour your guts out right there on the stage". I know he did, and what a great teacher he was for me. Thanks to Ray and Larry Park as well for all they did to help me learn.

(posted 2/7/2005)

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