Remembering Bill Monroe

I love Bill Monroe. To me, Monroe is Blue Grass. This is just an opinion and not a condemnation, but modern Blue Grass sounds too removed from Monroe. I was (am) a huge fan of 70’s era progressive Blue Grass (like NGR, DGQ, or Seldom Scene), but I could still always hear Monroe in their playing. I just don’t hear that so much now. If I put on a Blue Grass album, 50% chance it’ll be a Monroe album. Again, not a condemnation of today’s Blue Grass as there is some of it I like. It’s just that I don’t hear the Monroe. It’s like listening to a banjo player and not hearing Scruggs, Crowe, Osborne, etc. in their playing. That’s ok for a modern tune, but sounds out of place playing traditional Blue Grass tunes. Again, one guy’s limited and biased opinion.

Here are some videos of Monroe tunes I’ve done over the last 15 years. Some are good; some are middlin’. There are so many great Monroe stylists—Roland White and Mike Compton to name two obvious ones—that I’m less inclined to work up mandolin renditions of Monroe tunes. I’d play it straight and Taterbug has already said it better than most mandolinists alive, so why add to that? For me, it’s the beauty in the tunes that transcends limits of the mandolin. Much like Kenny Baker was the true interpreter of Monroe tunes (but did so on the fiddle), I try to hear what sounds great on other instruments.

Here you have examples of Monroe on banjo, electric guitar, and acoustic guitar. The arrangements of Old Mountaineer and Ebeneezer Scrooge are probably my favorites and the ones of which I’m most proud.


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