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Bluegrass Memoirs: The First Canadian Bluegrass Festival (Part 1)
Bluegrass MemoirsDec 9, 2020

On October 3, 2020, during IBMA's Virtual World of Bluegrass, I watched the Bluegrass Situation's presentation of Shout & Shine Online, the fifth annual showcase celebrating equity and inclusion in bluegrass and roots music. This year it featured Black performers, including Jerron "Blind Boy" Paxton, the blues, folk, bluegrass, and jazz multi-instrumentalist and vocalist from…

Bluegrass Memoirs: The First Canadian Bluegrass Festival (Part 1)
Bluegrass MemoirsOct 19, 2020

On the morning of March 24, 2020 I learned Eric Weissberg had passed away when a friend posted a long and detailed obit. I found several other substantial ones online -- Rolling Stone, Variety, New York Times. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Weissberg's family had a press release ready; he'd been in decline,…

Bluegrass Memoirs: The First Canadian Bluegrass Festival (Part 1)
Bluegrass MemoirsSep 18, 2020

In December 1953, Decca released "Plunkin' Rag" by the Shenandoah Valley Boys. It was the first recording by a banjoist other than Earl Scruggs to use Scruggs pegs: Hubert Davis.  Born in Shelby, North Carolina, in 1932, Davis grew up in a musical family. He was already playing the banjo when, at the age of…

Bluegrass Memoirs: The First Canadian Bluegrass Festival (Part 1)
Bluegrass MemoirsAug 12, 2020

Let's begin with a 45 RPM record I played banjo on.  In July 1964, I was hired by the Rick Sutherlin Orchestra to play banjo for one night at the Monroe County Fair in Bloomington, Indiana. They needed a banjo player, because they were going to back up the fair's featured music that night, the…

Bluegrass Memoirs: The First Canadian Bluegrass Festival (Part 1)
Bluegrass MemoirsJun 24, 2020

Tom Power's recent Toy Heart episode with Alice Gerrard, whom I first knew as Alice Foster, reminded me of a 1959 visit several of us Oberlin College folkies made to Antioch College. In 2009, doing research on my early bluegrass experiences, I sent my friend Mayne Smith an email asking about his experiences when he met…