Bluegrass In The Cocktail Lounge

Reprinted from Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine

February 1969, Volume 3, Number 8

In the past there have been many different outlets for bluegrass music — radio, TV, school-house shows, tent shows, bars and parks, to name a few. The list has, in recent years, shrunk appreciably to the point where, in many areas, the only source of bluegrass picking and singing is some dingy “club” on a back street on the wrong side of town. These “clubs” have a lot of “atmosphere” (which sometimes lingers for days in one’s clothing, hair, nostrils, etc.) but unfortunately they do not make for the best listening. All who agree that something better is needed should turn their ears toward Lexington, Kentucky (The Heart Of The Bluegrass) where bluegrass music has gained a foot-hold in that most middle-class of institutions — the cocktail lounge.

It all began several months back when J. D. Crowe and the Kentucky Mountain Boys were hired away from their old home base at Martin’s Place to play weekends at the Red Slipper Lounge of the Holiday Inn Motel (#3). The response was great and soon a Tuesday through Saturday schedule was adopted and Red Allen joined the groups as front man, lead singer and guitar picker.

The group now consists of Red, J.D., Doyle Lawson-mandolin and Bobby Sloan-bass (and sometimes left-handed fiddle) and it surely must be one of the best bands to come along in a good many years. They have complete vocal and instrumental control over what they do; and what they do is fantastic. They play with ease, confidence and assurance; everything from the traditional bluegrass of Bill Monroe to the uptown style of the Osborne Brothers — a sound which Red Allen helped to develop when he sang with the Osbornes. While they play the complete spectrum of bluegrass music, every tune has the Crowe-Allen-Lawson-Sloan stamp on it. It is difficult not to over-praise the talents of these fellows — both as individuals and as a unit — because anything less would not be enough.

The future seems bright for them. They have a contract for the coming year to play at several Holiday Inns around the country and there exists the possibility of recording sessions to preserve the sounds that they are producing.

I, for one, certainly hope for their continued success simply because they are bringing bluegrass to a whole new scene – “Bluegrass In The Cocktail Lounge”.

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