Hooked on Bluegrass

Eric Uglum

My earliest bluegrass memory as a young child is hearing the Stanley Brothers perform "Children Go Where I Send Thee" on PBS television. I didn't have a clue what I was listening to, but I sensed that something very special was going on.

I grew up in Huntington Beach, CA; not exactly a bluegrass music hub! I was 13 when I started learning guitar, playing mostly acoustic pop/folk that was popular in the mid-1970s. About a year later I was down the street at a friend's house and heard his brother flat picking fiddle tunes on guitar. I thought it was the most beautiful and authentic thing I'd ever heard and was hooked from then on.

I soon found out that another kid who lived on the street behind me played the banjo and had a really cute 14 year old sister (now my wife Stacey!). Their dad took us to our first bluegrass festival in Norco, CA. I was soon jamming at California festivals like the CBA Grass Valley festival where I first remember hearing Lost Highway. It was Ken Orrick's singing and the Stanley style vocal harmony of Stuart Duncan and Nick Haney that really got me hooked on bluegrass vocals.

It's strange to think that I've sort of come full circle and I am fortunate to be playing with the band that had such an impact on me when I was first developing as a player. Who would have thought that a surfer living a mile from the beach would become so hooked on bluegrass?

(posted 12/17/2005)

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