Friday, March 4, 2016

Why Billy Hill Loves Kentucky: Reasons 74 and 87

Billy Hill started this thread on his FaceBook page BILLY HILL HERE and realized that some folk may not actually know about it and so, he is moving the thread over here.  

Yes, Billy Hill was actually born in Kentucky, McCracken County to be exact, right there at the confluence of the Tennessee and the Ohio Rivers. Billy Hill is proud of his heritage and loves his State - but he is a Hill Topper fan, not a Wildcat. Why does Billy Hill love Kentucky so much, other than the obvious birthing home of bourbon, well for many reasons. Here are a couple:

Reason 74 - The Big Lebowski Fest

The Big Lebowski Fest has been running for more than a decade.  The Lebowski Fest in Louisville is as glorious as one might imagine. Featuring a screening of “The Big Lebowski”, bowling party, live music, and tons of costumed participants, it’s a must-do for any Big Lebowski fan. That head at the far back may or may not be Billy Hill.

Reason 87 - Bluegrass

Billy Hill was a bit off the beaten trail when he was a kid, listening to Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt rather than Santana and Ted Nugent.  But there was something about that music that drew him in.  The bluegrass genre is said to have been birthed by Bill Monroe, an American mandolinistsinger, and songwriter. The genre takes its name from his band, the Blue Grass Boys, named for Monroe's home state of Kentucky. Monroe's performing career spanned 69 years as a singer, instrumentalist, composer and bandleader. He is often referred to as the Father of Bluegrass.
There is more information on this history of bluegrass below but you probably won't be interested in it unless you take a gander and listen to some of today's bluegrass.  

Billy Hill was recently turned on to Mipso by a zinger of a friend:
Then obviously there is the Old Crow Medicine Show

And one of Billy Hill's favorites The Packway Handle Band
 Packway Handle Band - Gets Me Everytime

But you still can't ignore Scruggs and Flatt
And if you want to know more, read this and just google Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, and bluegrass origins. 
A key development occurred in Monroe's music with the addition of North Carolina banjo prodigy Earl Scruggs to the Blue Grass Boys in December 1945. Scruggs played the instrument with a distinctive three-finger picking style that immediately caused a sensation among Opry audiences. Scruggs joined a highly accomplished group that included singer/guitarist Lester Flatt, and would soon include fiddler Chubby Wise, and bassist Howard Watts, who often performed under the name "Cedric Rainwater". In retrospect, this lineup of the Blue Grass Boys has been dubbed the "Original Bluegrass Band", as Monroe's music finally included all the elements that characterize the genre, including breakneck tempos, sophisticated vocal harmony arrangements, and impressive instrumental proficiency demonstrated in solos or "breaks" on the mandolin, banjo, and fiddle. By this point, Monroe had acquired the 1923 Gibson F5 model "Lloyd Loar" mandolin which became his trademark instrument for the remainder of his career.[6]
The 28 songs recorded by this version of the Blue Grass Boys for Columbia Records in 1946 and 1947 soon became classics of the genre, including "Toy Heart", "Blue Grass Breakdown", "Molly and Tenbrooks", "Wicked Path of Sin", "My Rose of Old Kentucky", "Little Cabin Home on the Hill", and Monroe's most famous song "Blue Moon of Kentucky". The last-named was recorded by Elvis Presley in 1954, appearing as the B-side of his first single for Sun Records. Monroe gave his blessing to Presley's rock-and-roll cover of the song, originally a slow ballad in waltz time, and in fact re-recorded it himself with a faster arrangement after Presley's version became a hit. Several gospel-themed numbers are credited to the "Blue Grass Quartet", which featured four-part vocal arrangements accompanied solely by mandolin and guitar – Monroe's usual practice when performing "sacred" songs.
Both Flatt and Scruggs left Monroe's band in early 1948, soon forming their own group, the Foggy Mountain Boys. In 1949, after signing with Decca Records, Monroe entered what has been called the "golden age" of his career[7] with what many consider the classic "high lonesome" version of the Blue Grass Boys, featuring the lead vocals and rhythm guitar of Jimmy Martin, the banjo of Rudy Lyle (replacing Don Reno), and fiddlers such as Merle "Red" Taylor, Charlie ClineBobby Hicks and Vassar Clements. This band recorded a number of bluegrass classics, including "My Little Georgia Rose", "On and On", "Memories of Mother and Dad", and "Uncle Pen", as well as instrumentals such as "Roanoke", "Big Mon", "Stoney Lonesome", "Get Up John", and the mandolin feature "Raw Hide." Carter Stanley joined the Blue Grass Boys as guitarist for a short time in 1951 during a period when theStanley Brothers had temporarily disbanded.
On January 16, 1953 Monroe was critically injured in a two-car wreck. He and "Bluegrass Boys" bass player, Bessie Lee Mauldin, were returning home from a fox hunt north of Nashville. On highway 31-W, near White House, their car was struck by a drunken driver. Monroe, who had suffered injuries to his back, left arm and nose, was rushed to General Hospital in Nashville. It took him almost four months to recover and resume touring. In the meantime Charlie Cline and Jimmy Martin kept the band together.[8]
By the late 1950s, however, Monroe's commercial fortunes had begun to slip. The rise of rock-and-roll and the development of the "Nashville sound" in mainstream country music both represented threats to the viability of bluegrass. While still a mainstay on the Grand Ole Opry, Monroe found diminishing success on the singles charts, and struggled to keep his band together in the face of declining demand for live performances.