Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Memories of Mr. Monroe, Sonny Oborne, and one misinformed fan

The year was 1994, and if I remember right it was January or February. My friend Fred Morrison was putting on a BIG indoor Bluegrass Festival at a posh hotel in San Mateo Calif. . The whole Bluegrass community was abuzz over the bands that were hired to play it, and everyone in northern Calif. was planning on being there. Headlining the Festival was none other than the father of Bluegrass Music, Mr. Bill Monroe hisself! Some ot the other major acts that I can remember are The Osborne Brothers, Eddie and Martha Adcock, and III'rd Tyme Out

My long time pickin buddy Ken Freeman and I loaded up his car with our gear and we headed over the Altamont on a Friday morning to a wonderful week end of the greatest music in the world, AND it was indoors where we would be nice and warm and dry! GEEZ, what a concept fer a festival! NO dust, fly's, skeeter's, hot sun, cold night's, and all of the usual creature UNcomforts we normally have to put up with to enjoy our music, so to say we were lookin' forward to this festival would have been the understatement of the year.

Well, we found the hotel okay, got to our room, got everthang "unsuitcased", and headed down stairs to see jes who was there, and listen to the many jam's that were already in full swing. I was about halfway downstairs when I remembered that I had brought a HUGE stack of our paper, The Breakdown, so I headed back to the room and got 'em, jumped on the elevator and headed to the lobby so the folks could pick one up as they came into the festival . WELLLL, it jes so happened that we had run a big article on the front page promoting this festival, and who's picture was right in the middle of it all, The Osborne Brothers. Right there in the picture was my pal Sonny jes a'smilin' up a storm! Self, sez I . This is TOO good to pass up, so I took my pen and was in the process of "blacking out" Sonny's two front teeth on ALL of the paper's and had got about half of 'em done when a soft voice over my right shoulder sez: You probably think that's funny dont you, you Big Okie! I turned to face none other than Sonny hissownself! He and Bobby had jes came into the hotel from the airport. Surprised cant describe how I felt about gettin' caught in the act! So in a kinda squeaky voice I sez, well hello Sonny, it's good to see ya ol pal! Bobby was standing there laughing his head off and we all shook hands but Sonny sez in a real low voice, with that lil' evil grin of his'n, Rhynes, I'm gonna get you fer this one. While we were gettin' reacquainted and jawin' as old friends do, someone poked me in the back and when I turned, there was none other than Mr. Monroe hisself, smilin' and he stuck out his hand to shake hands. I grabbed his hand, and as always Bill tried to pull me off balance jes to see how strong a man you were.I sez Bill, you snuck in here like a Fox ! He said,no I didn't, I walked in here jes like a man, and J.D., yer a mighty stout man, and you dress like a Bluegrasss Boy should dress, I'll bet you'd make a real good Bluegrass Boy. I assured Bill that if'n he ever needed a bass player when he was in California, I was his man. Bill said , J.D., I'll remember that, and if I do, I'll call you. [ Ya dont reckon that great big ol Goosebumps ran up and down my spine, do ya?] Sadly I never got a chance to pick with Bill, as it wasn't too many month's later that he had the stroke that would eventually take his life. BUT, it's good to know that at one time I was on the short list of Bass players to become a Bluegrass Boy. [ Eat yer heart out Bruce! ]

Well, the festival took off like a rocket and we were having the best time ever, and all indoors where we were as snug as the proverbial bug in a rug. Come Saturday evening, and it was during the evening meal break when one of the funniest thangs that has ever happened to me transpired. I was standing by the door of the main showroom, talking to my friend Ernie Sykes, who was there playing Bass in the Eddie Adcock Band. An oldeer gentleman came up to us and said to me, excuse me sir, may I talk with you fer a moment? Sure sez I, what can I do fer you? Well he said, I jes want to tell you how much I have enjoyed yer music over these years, and on and on, etc.. I interrupted him and asked him jes WHO he thought I was? He said; Aren't you Sonny Osborne? I looked at Ernie who had this quizzical look on his face, and I can tell he's thinking, WHAT did you jes say? WELLL. opportunities like this only come ONCE in a lifetime and I was NOT about to squander it! I grabbed the guy's shirt collar, and in a real loud voice I said: DONT ever call me Sonny Osborne again!!!! Ernie jes slid down the wall into a heap of laffin' Bass player, and the poor misinformed fan of Sonny's was about to have a fit! Then I let go of the poor scared man, reassured him I wasn't gonna harm him and it was all a joke fer the benefit of my buddy Ernie. I finally convinced him that Sonny was one of my bestest friends in the music, and he left us in a fast trot down the hall. BUT, here's the funniest part of it all. The poor man wasn't out of sight fer no more than 10 to 15 seconds, when around the corner of the hallway comes none other than Sonny hissownself! Ernie and I absolutely fell down on the floor into a heap of helpless laffin' fools! Sonny walks up, looks at us layin there in fits of laughter, and sez; Okay you two fools, ya wanna share with me jes what's so durn funny? I told Ernie he had to do it, and finally Ernie got the tears wiped off, and was able to tell Sonny the whole incident. Sonny turned to me and said; J.D., yer a %#***)_+!!#$##, and furthermore, yer bass playin is ^=-)#&***@! too! Turned and walked into the backstage door. It took Ernie and I at least another 30 minutes to regain our composure. Later that evening when I saw Sonny back stage, he came over and told me that the more he thought about it the funnier it became, and only wished that he could have been there to see the look on that fan's face. Later that year I went to the IBMA doin's and the first time Ernie and I ran into each other, we jes absolutely collapsed in a heap again, rememberin' that fateful night of the misinformed fan. He and I have had a lot of laugh's over that time so long ago now. Sonny too even likes to remind me of it at times, and my only wish is , fer us all to be able to do it all again. BUT, as we all know, there's only ONE constant in all of our lives, and that's change. Be it for the better or worse, it's there for all of our future's. I prefer to think that it is gonna be fer the better, but oh how I long fer the good times of yesterday. Good memories all! GOD bless Bill Monroe.

Yer Friend, J.D.Rhynes, and almost Bluegrasss Boy
Posted:  10/28/2010

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