Author: Campbell, Bruce

Shameful Admissions & THe Mystery Tapes

There was a lively thread on the Message Board recently wherein a reader made the “shameful admission” that his record collection didn’t have any Doyle Lawson. The admission was followed by a number of responses, suggesting some good recordings to fill out his collection.

First of all, everyone’s collection is going to have some holes, so there’s no shame in that! (There, there, Marcos!) However, I think the post’s author was ashamed that such a prominent artist as Doyle Lawson had no representative samples in his collection of Bluegrass music.

It’s darn hard, (and expensive) to amass a comprehensive collection of music. In my rock days, I did a pretty good job of it, thanks to the $1 record bins at Rasputin. Every payday, I would buy ten albums for $10. And in those days, I had time (or made time) to listen to them all, and absorb them.

Many years later, Bluegrass came into my life and I began my music collection for that genre, but it grew much slower. As a result, a few albums loomed VERY large in my Bluegrass education, and it’s a mixed bag: Old and In the Way, David Bromberg, Doc Watson led the way. Then, when I was taking banjo lessons (you’d never guess I had banjo lessons if you’ve heard me play the ol’ minnow dipper), my banjo teacher made me about 12 or 15 cassettes to broaden my horizons. The tapes had labels on them, all of which fell off within a few weeks, so I had a bunch of mix tapes with no reference as to who was on it. I know there was Alan Munde, Tony Trishka, Eddie Adcock and Bill Keith, but I didn’t who was on which tapes.

As I heard more and more Bluegrass and picked up some more CDs and cassettes (David Grisman’s Bluegrass Reunion Album was a favorite, as was a compilation album I got at Wintergrass with The New South, Tony Rice, Charlie Waller, and the Seldom Scene), I began to identify the voices and players. The gentleman singing that wonderful song about the racehorses (Molly and Tenbrooks) was Bill Monroe! The amazing singing on “Sunny Side of the Mountain” was Jimmy Martin! It was Charlie Waller’s awesome pipes on “Pallet on Your Floor”, and Eddie Adcock’s banjo on “Eddie on the Freeway”!

What was very cool was, I was not involved in the Bluegrass community, so I was learning what I liked without any influence from someone who could tell me what was trite and what was cool – which probably explains my love for Rocky Top.

So, Marcos, don’t think you have a shameful admission – my collection has more gaping holes than a hillbilly’s smile. I don’t have any Doyle CDs either – although some of the compilation albums have a song or two. I don’t have any Hot Rize. I don’t have any Newgrass Revival, or Reno and Smiley, or Buzz Busby or Jim and Jesse. I also don’t have a single John Prine album, which may actually be a felony in some states.

I’m not holding out or being stubborn. I just haven’t had the time to gather all this stuff and listen to it, even though I am aware of the influences of many of these fine artists. I need to be more like Marcos and resolve to ensure that all of Bluegrass music’s shining stars have some representation in my music collection!

Posted:  9/16/2009

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