The Bluegrass genre of music is truly American. But there are many aficionados of Bluegrass not only in America, but also in many countries around the world. The late Bill Monroe, who could well be said to be a legend in his own time, created the Bluegrass style.
Bluegrass music is a hard driving blend of various instruments (usually fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, and bass fiddle.) Over time other instruments have been utilized. The singing consists of harmony in extraordinary high tone.
Monroe is called The Father of Bluegrass music, He is said to have named his band The Bluegrass Boys in honor of his home state of Kentucky, a state that is noted for its lush fields of bluegrass. The term Bluegrass music was derived from the name of Bills band. Monroe was a virtuoso on the mandolin, playing it as nobody had before. He could also play the guitar.
I once had a 78-rpm Bluebird record of Bill and his brother Charlie singing and playing as a brother act. I seem to have misplaced it. I remember the song on one side was What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul. What Would You Give
became somewhat of a hit in the world of Bluegrass music.
After singing and playing together for several years, the brothers split up with Charlie forming a band of his own called, the Kentucky Partners. Bill formed a band he called first The Kentuckians but shortly he named his band The Bluegrass Boys. The separation occurred in 1938, which happens to be the year of my birth. Monroe auditioned for and was hired by the Grand Ole Opry and was a member of that organization his entire life. That was also the year Monroe named his band The Bluegrass Boys.
William Smith (Bill) Monroe was born September 13, 1911 in Rosine, Kentucky. He died September 9, 1996.
There are many great Bluegrass bands here in Johnson County. If I tried to name them, I would probably leave some out and I wouldnt want to do that. I would encourage
you to take in Bluegrass acts when they appear in Heritage Hall or other venues in the county. RFD-TV features some great Bluegrass music Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. Various acts perform on the program but the Cumberland Highlands are often on the program with Johnson Countys own Kody Norris singing and playing in that group. Norris also has his own band called The Watauga Mountain Boys. The venue is a rugged stage near Monroes home on Jerusalem Ridge. Kody and his band have performed at Heritage Hall for several years.