16 November 2021

Bluegrass of the first decade

The BIB editor writes:

The BIB reported on 5 Nov. that Bluegrass Unlimited magazine had launched a special series of web-based articles on the late Bill Emerson. The second article in the series, 'Bill Emerson, part 2: the early years', written by BU editor Dan Miller, does a fine job of covering Bill's life up to the age of 19, when he had been playing banjo professionally for a year - having previously auditioned unsuccessfully for Bill Monroe.

In association with the series on Emerson, BU's 53rd e-newsletter presents a major article, 'Buzz Busby: a lonesome road' by Rhonda Strickland, originally published in the Nov. 1986 issue of the magazine (vol. 21, no. 5). Bernarr Graham Busbice ('Buzz Busby') gave Bill Emerson his first professional gig, and it was a car crash involving Buzz's band that led to Bill (not Charlie Waller, as stated in the Wikipedia article on Buzz) assembling a scratch band that evolved into the Country Gentlemen. The crash was one of many downs in the ups and downs of Buzz's life, which were a major factor in the emotional power and intensity of his music. Strickland's article (written when Buzz still had seventeen years to live) explains exactly why he deserves to be remembered. It is strongly recommended to any lover of bluegrass music.

The image above comes from the cover of a compilation of Buzz's recordings from 1956-7, including the period when Bill Emerson was playing banjo for him. A Buzz Busby session discography is on Tom Mindte's Patuxent Records website.

© Richard Hawkins



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