13 September 2011

Bill Monroe: celebrating the centenary

Photo: Mandolin Cafe

William Smith Monroe, father of bluegrass music, was born a hundred years ago today at the family home on Pigeon Ridge, near Rosine, KY, at 10.30 a.m., eighth child of J.B. 'Buck' Monroe and Malissa Vandiver Monroe. His Monroe ancestors had been in Kentucky for more than a hundred years previously, and in Virginia for nearly a hundred and fifty years before that.

The above facts come from articles by Tom Ewing and Bob Carlin - just some of the contents of the current issue of Bluegrass Unlimited, xlvi, no. 3 (Sept. 2011), which is devoted to celebrating the centennial. The issue includes articles on aspects of his family history, career, and musical legacy, with a moving account by Jens Kruger of his meetings with Bill Monroe - beginning in 1982, when as a 19-year-old from Switzerland he found himself playing banjo on stage with the Blue Grass Boys at Bean Blossom, the first bluegrass festival he had ever attended.

More photos, from the collection of Lilly Pavlak (CZ/CH), can be seen on the European Bluegrass Blog. The staggering programme of celebratory events arranged by the International Bluegrass Music Museum began yesterday and will continue through tomorrow.

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