December 2021

The Tradition

George Shuffler

Bluegrass Innovator Seventy-five years ago the Stanley Brothers developed a distinctive sound in country music (a music that would later become known as bluegrass).  Carter’s lead voice, sparse rhythm guitar style and songwriting combined with Ralph’s soulful tenor voice and distinct approach to the five-string banjo to deliver a unique style of bluegrass music that… Read the full article

Notes & Queries – December 2021

Queries Q: I recently sold off some of my bluegrass memorabilia, including a 1951 Stanley Brothers song and picture folio. The booklet contained a photo of a disc jockey by the name of Jerry Donovan. Just curious as to who he is/was and why he’s included in a Stanley Brothers booklet? Tom Adler, Lexington, Kentucky…. Read the full article

75 Years & Counting

The year 2020 was proclaimed by many as the 75th anniversary of the birth of bluegrass, a time that celebrated when the stars aligned in 1945 to provide Bill Monroe with an all-star cast of pickers and singers in his Blue Grass Boys band. At the top of the list were smooth Tennessee-born vocalist and… Read the full article

Roy Sykes

Bluegrass  Incubator Many times, people who are known as but a footnote in history actually have vibrant lives that belie their postscript status. Such is the case with Roy Sykes, whose claim to fame is that his band, the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys, provided the career launch pad for Stanley Brothers. Less well known is… Read the full article

The Artists

Don Rigsby Stands Alone

Bluegrass veteran Don Rigsby’s reputation speaks for itself. The award-winning musician has been a member of top bluegrass music groups including The Bluegrass Cardinals, JD Crowe and The New South, and the Lonesome River Band. A two-time Grammy nominee, Rigsby has won two SPBGMA “Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year” awards, multiple IBMA trophies, and… Read the full article

The Sound

Story Behind the Song Wild Bill Jones

Any tribute to The Stanley Brothers calls for an inside look at a favorite Stanley Brothers song. I’m not the expert some are on The Stanley Brothers or Ralph Stanley, but I’ve always enjoyed their lonesome, high-in-the-mountains sound on songs like “Rank Stranger,” “Angel Band,” and so many others. In looking back through some of… Read the full article

Ralph  Stanley and the Whisnant Eagle Banjo

Photos by Jamie Alexander For many of us, the first-generation bluegrass pioneers were the link that pulled on our heart strings and gave us a lifetime infatuation for bluegrass music. Whether it be Flatt and Scruggs, Monroe, The Stanley’s, Reno and Smiley—or whoever it may have been—it seems that each individual connects in some way… Read the full article

Tyler White Mandolins

Photos by Bud Osborne  DSecades ago, someone approached me at Bean Blossom and asked for feedback on a mandolin he’d built. The F-5 style instrument looked like a C- grade junior high school shop project. Not a smooth curve or straight line anywhere, and the finish looked like he’d melted Crayons over it. I played… Read the full article

The Venu

The Dr. Ralph Stanley 

Hills of Home Bluegrass Festival The Dr. Ralph Stanley Hills of Home Memorial Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival held at the Hills of Home Park in McClure, Virginia is one of the longest running bluegrass festivals in the United States.  With the exception of the 2020 and 2021 events being cancelled due to the pandemic, the… Read the full article