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Author: Subject: Duane picking bluegrass at a festival??

Ultimate Peach





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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:09 PM
I was perusing a web-site that features several old classic bluegrass photos and came upon this photo from what looks like maybe the late 60's or early 70's.

The fiddle player is John Hartford, the two right in the center are David Grisman and Peter Rowan, and the mandolin player on the far right is Sam Bush. Not sure of the others.(Banjo player might be Bela Fleck)

But if you will look all the way to the right there is someone behind Sam Bush and the guy sharing the mike with Sam.

It looks just like Duane back there jamming with these guys! I dont think it is, but whoever it is he bears a striking resemblance!

"D"

http://www.bluegrasstime.com/pages/Warrenton.html

[Edited on 12/10/2005 by D28guy]

[Edited on 12/10/2005 by D28guy]

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:14 PM
Oooops, I just went back to it and saw a date. 1973.

Cant be Duane, but its kinda eerie how it looks like him.

"D"

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:16 PM
And I was thinking, DUANE would pick his "GRASS" no matter WHAT color, lol

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:20 PM
Wow does bear a strong resemblence. Is that DB on the Banjo?

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:31 PM
quote:
"Wow does bear a strong resemblence. Is that DB on the Banjo?


Ha ha!

I didnt catch that until now, but your right. With the cowboy hat and mustache, the banjo player does look a little like Dickey!

"D"


 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:34 PM
Nope, that be Ebo Walker. Ebo was a part of the Bluegrass Alliance that morphed into the ground breaking New Grass Revival with Sam Bush and the boys. I know everyone in that picture except for Butch and Ebo. Man, those were the days as the hippies were taking their piece of the bluegrass puzzle, something started with John Hartford's legendary 1971 "Steam Powered Aereo Plane" album recorded by his Dobrolic Plectoral Society, a CD which still is great and has held up wonderfully over all of these years. The title cut is still a favorite around campfires all over the world, and a good song to call out if a jam is in swing. I talked to Tut Taylor the other day and the "DPS" is down to two people since my friends John Hartford and Vassar Clerments have died. I miss them both. It is now only him and Norman Blake left. The two of them are recording a new album as we speak.

The cats in that picture broke big time ground a far as newgrass and jazzgrass music is concerned in the 1970's. I know for a fact that all of them listened to and admired Duane in a big way. And, Bush, Grisman, Rowan, Robbins, and Mr. Buck White are all making incredible music these days as well.

Dickey, on the other hand, absolutely played bluegrass a time or two. He grew up in a family that played string music, his Daddy played the fiddle, and I have heard a radio concert where Vassar Clements set up the band behind Dickey with banjo and all. That was during the "Highway Call" days. And during that time Dickey toured with a band that included Larry Rice on mandolin, (Tony's brother) and FRank Poindexter on Dobro who is larry and Tony's uncle. Both are still around and both Larry and Frank have new albums out right now.


Derek H

[Edited on 12/10/2005 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:38 PM
An appropo quote: "LIFE, like JAZZ, often happens best in the spaces between the notes"

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 02:48 PM
Derek,

Thanks for the tip about Norman and Vassar recording a CD together. I will be GREATLY looking forward to that one. Norman could possibly be my favorite acoustic guitar player on the planet. Easilly one of my handful of favorities.

I am a huge John Hartford fan, partly because of the fact that I have always loved Steamboats, but mostly because he was the 1st musician to pull me into the bluegrass music fold way back when I was a teenager in the early 70's. Someone turned me on to "Mark Twang" and it changed my life musically. Even to the point where I play dobro and guitar with a bluegrass band now. It all started with a John Hartford record.

I cried when I heard he died and I dont care to share that at all. I stilll get sad when I think of him being gone.

"D"

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 04:14 PM
mmmmmm
 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 04:53 PM
It is always great when DerekfromCincinnati posts!

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 07:58 PM
iT SAYS UNDER THE PICTURE ITS EBO WALKER

 

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  posted on 12/10/2005 at 08:18 PM
quote:
It is always great when DerekfromCincinnati posts!


Yes it is Tan Dan! Two points I'd like to make concerning Derek's post. First off my favorite Norman Blake album is "Back Home In Sulphur Springs" recorded in or abouts 71 with just Norman and Tut. Incredible album y'all.

Also replacing the Poindexter cat on dobro at least for Dickey's England swing was Dan Huckabee, the dude down in Texas who is on of the primary bluegrass instramental instructors dobro, guitar and mandolin.

Duane being from Nashville probably could play some country and bluegrass. From a lot of accounts he played all the time. Most of the best do. Not to practice but because the love it. Music is truely their life and our lives are so much richer for it.

 

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  posted on 12/11/2005 at 05:26 AM
I have a lot to say on this, but I keep thinking of the fact that Duane hung out with Chet Atkins' daughter, and one wonders what that led to.

As for Hartford, I am about to re-write this next article on John that I will show you. It is flawed and needs of many re-writes. I wrote it five-plus years ago. I am a much better writer now, and I will tweak this in the near future, but for now this gets at to the heart of why Hartford was such an influence on many of us. I remember him all the way back to when he would stand up with his banjo at the beginning of the Glen Campbell TV Show in the late 1970's. Then he wrote the third most recorded song of all time, "Gentle On My Mind," a song he wrote with a stroke of genius in 20 minutes. Sinatra and Aretha recorded it, as did about 300 others. The royalties from the song enabled him to pursue ground-breaking music such as "Steam."

FRom 2001,

quote:
Where Does an Old Time River Man Go?

John Hartford Remembered

By Derek Halsey

December 2001

In the cool autumn air the sounds of the riverboats were everywhere. There is nothing like the whistle of a ship like the Delta Queen blowing as it comes up river and into port. In October of 1988, at the port of Cincinnati on the mighty Ohio River, there were the sounds of over twenty riverboats in port at once. Steamboats were in town from all over the Ohio and Mississippi rivers and all points in between. It was a festival called Tall Stacks. There also were many bluegrass, jazz, and country musicians in town for the festival as well. One artist in particular would not have missed it for the world as he was a licensed riverboat pilot as well as a musician and that was John Hartford.

John Hartford, songwriter, banjo and fiddle player, has probably recorded more music about the river and riverboats and river life than any other 'modern times' musician. On the banks of the Ohio River that fall he was definitely in his element. He was up on the stage with his instruments and his 4 by 4 piece of plywood. The miced plywood, with a little sand thrown on it, was what he did his shuffling on. He would play the fiddle or the banjo while at the same time keeping rhythm with his feet on the board. As he played on the open-air stage the steamboats would be off in the background behind him. When he would stop playing for a second and turn and wave to the boats the captains and pilots, most of whom he knew, would see him from the river and blow their whistles and it was great. He was a one-man show, in the tradition of all the old traveling minstrels and musicians that played the river ports of this country for hundreds of years.


I had not seen John for a long time. I was trying to remember what bluegrass festival I first saw him play live at. All I know is I remember seeing him first as most of us middle age ex-hippies did on the late sixties TV show "Glen Campbell's Good Time Hour." He was the hippie with the 'banjer'. The one who wrote Glen Campbell's hit song of the day, "Gentle on My Mind" in about twenty minutes of absolute brainstorm. It is still to this day some of the best lyrics ever written. The crowd that night recognized that song above all of the other songs and clapped as he started it. It was a crisp October night. There was a river full of steamboats. John Hartford had the crowd in his favor.

After he finished his set he would always greet what people he could backstage. I stood back and let him talk to the other fans before I went into my recollections and musical questions and such. As I was standing off to the side I overheard some of the older ladies talking. They were amazed at how he could dance and shuffle his feet to the rhythm on the plywood for such a long time. They approached him for an autograph but seemed too shy to ask him about it. So I brought it up in front of the others standing there and walked right in to the dry wry humor that was John Hartford. " So John, how is it that you keep your legs up like that?" "Well", he answered without missing a beat, "They are attached to my hips I guess".

John's classic song "Gentle on My Mind" should, as picker Ricky Skaggs said about it, "encourage young songwriters out there to write that one mega-classic hit." As Ricky further explains, a song like that could "set you up for your children and your children's children". And so it was for John. 'Gentle on My Mind' is the second most played song in the history of man, second only to the Beatles "Yesterday." It has been played over 6 million times on radio and television. Over 300 people have recorded it. Such entertainers as, and I am not joking here, Frank Sinatra, Aretha, Burl Ives, Lawrence Welk, Lou Rawls, and Elvis! After John's appearances on the Campbell show and the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour he was even offered a detective show on television but turned it down to head back east and south. Hollywood was fun for a while but there were not enough rivers in California to suit him.

The royalties from 'Gentle' enabled him to pursue the music he really wanted to play. And thatās when the album entitled "Aereo-Plain" came out in 1971. This is the album to start out with if you are new to his music. The album, now CD, featured John playing with Tut Taylor on dobro, Norman Blake on guitar and mandolin, Randy Scruggs on bass, and the great fiddle player Vassar Clements. John did not play just traditional music. With this album especially he set into motion the idea that bluegrass string music could be strange and progressive as well. One listen to "BOOGIE" and "Steam Powered Aereo Plane" played loud and you will see what I mean. Yet the instrumentation was smoking.

Other songs to look for on other albums of his would be, of course, "Granny Wontcha Smoke Some Marijuana" from the "Nobody Knows What You Do " album, 1976. Also on that album is a song called "The Golden Globes" which is the best song I have ever heard in tribute to the fairer sexes wonderful female protuberances. Crazy. Or you might try finding the 1977 album he made with the Dillards of Andy Griffith show fame (on the show they were called the "Darlin's"). Look for a tribute to Bob Marley entitled "Two Hits and The Joint turned Brown". You never knew what you were going to get with Mr., Hartford. And you southern rockers should look for a self titled album by Vassar Clements on the Mercury label, 1975, which featured John and others such as Charlie Daniels, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, members of Barefoot Jerry, and Marty Stewart.

The next time I saw John was in 1991 or '92 at the next Tall Stacks celebration. I ran into him sitting out a steady rain in a vehicle with Cincinnati-Kentucky musician Katie Laur. He recognized me after a few seconds and invited me in the car to talk and wait out the rain as he was supposed to play if it let up. I gave him a tape I had made for him of unusual music I had found such as 'Lillie Mae and the Dixie Gospel-Aires' and other cool stuff. The next day after the rain brought in a cold front behind it I saw Katie and John at the outdoor stage where banjo legend J.D.Crowe was playing. It could not have been more than 45 degrees outside and you players out there know how rough it would be to get your fingers to move right in such conditions. So J.D. tells the audience that if they have any requests to yell them out and if they could they would play it. John, way in the back, disguises his voice and yells out "Train 45", which is one of the hardest, fastest picking songs you could play. The band gets this collective frown on there faces, look at each other, look at their hands and instruments, and after a few seconds J.D. looks out into the crowd saying, "Hartford is that you?" J.D. finally figured out what was up. John was laughing hard, but J.D. and his band played it any way.

The last time I saw John was in 1999. It was the last of the three Tall Stacks and it was known through the grapevine that John's health was not good. John had been fighting Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma for 20 years and it was finally wearing him down. I had found a country cookbook written by Ronni Lundy of Louisville titled "Shuck Beans, Stack Cakes, and Honest Fried Chicken" which featured a picture of John taken of him in 1958. I wanted to show it to him and have him sign it. He got a big kick out of it. The second I saw him though I knew he was in trouble. I walked away from him that day praying and stunned at what I had seen. It's amazing how things can change someone for the worse from one time to the next. He kept on playing until April of 2001 when in Texas, in the middle of a run of shows, he lost control of his hands. In the days leading up to his death in early June of 2001 he had a parade of visitors to his Madison, Tennessee home overlooking the Cumberland River. Though he could not play himself he had others such as Earl Scruggs and Bela Fleck play for him. His wife Marie put his bed where he could see the river. As John said at an earlier time, "You look out at the river and it looks like its full of crushed diamonds·.I can't be anywhere else".

After his death on June 4, 2001, an amazing thing happened. On his web site, 'Johnhartford.com' (which he originally wanted to name 'Delusions of Banjer'), a message board was started for people to share their stories about John. As of November 2001 there have been over 1,500 postings. There are postings from Germany, Italy, Brazil, New Zealand, Netherlands, Bolivia, Canada, and all of America. The stories are touching, unusual, and goofy.

One recurring story is of John at the Skyline Music Festival in Ronceverte, West Virginia. Back in 1977 some idiot burned down the barn that held all the generators that supplied all of the electric for the stages. According to attendees Jan Worthington and Austin Troxell, whose picture you see with this article, after it got dark John invited people to the stage anyway. People gathered around and surrounded the stage with their camping lanterns and witnessed as good and as unique a show by John as you could ever want to see. Plywood and all.



Even near the end of his life John never lost his sense of humor. The radio show called "Live at Mountain Stage" wanted to do a tribute for him while he was still alive. Many great musicians came and played many of his songs and it was released as a CD as well. At the end of the concert John came out to play a short set. He started by talking to the audience and the other musicians telling them that, "If I'm going to be true to form, I got to tell you like it is·I know why everybody's here. They think I'm going to croak." He went on to say that if he was going to do his part then he should croak within about three weeks so it would still be fresh in every ones mind. The problem with that was, as he put it, " We got the whole month of October booked".

I am sure the irony of what happened to his career at the end of his life was not lost on him either. In 2000 there was a hit movie that came out entitled "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?", starring Kentucky native George Clooney and written and directed by the Coen Brothers. The music in the movie was an integral part of the story that was set in Mississippi circa 1930's. The Coen's hired T. Bone Burnett to gather up some real 'old time music' musicians to create the critical soundtrack to the movie. He brought in Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss and Ralph Stanley, and others. And John Hartford. The soundtrack of "Oh Brother" sold more than two million copies. It sold more than any other country CD sold in 2000. It topped the charts smoking all of the other so-called modern country artists. Ouch!

There is a movie out there now called "Down From The Mountain" that is a documentary of the musicians from "Oh Brother" coming together for a concert in celebration of the music of the movie, of the south, of the mountains, of the delta, of America. It is hosted by John Hartford and should be in video stores shortly. It is now part of his legacy as well. A hit song in the beginning of his career and a hit CD at the end of his 63 years here on earth. But there is also a bunch of wonderful music in between for us to explore and enjoy and have fun with and to learn from.

There is a song by John from the "Live at Mountain Stage" CD called "Old Time River Man", where he asks the question;

"Where does an old time riverman go
After he's passed away?
Does his soul still keep watch on the deep
For the rest of the river day?
Does he then come back as a channel cat
Or the wasps that light on the wheel?,
Or the birds that fly in the summer sky
Or the fish swimming under the keel?"





 

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  posted on 12/11/2005 at 09:24 AM
Thanks Derek!

 

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  posted on 12/11/2005 at 10:36 AM
Hey Derek,

Always enjoy reading your articles about various bluegrass/old-time country players and was wondering if you have ever thought about writing a book about the development of bluegrass since the mid-60's or maybe even a biography of John Hartford? If you do, I'll buy a copy (of course, I'll want a first edition, autographed copy )

 
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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 12/11/2005 at 01:15 PM
Derek,

Great article...thanks for sharing that.

I just went to another forum and dug and dug to find this post of mine from 4 years ago. I posted this on that forum about 2 minutes after I found out from another post that John Hartford was pretty much on his deathbed. (Up to that point I didnt even know he was sick)

"This has got me very very saddened to hear about this.

John Hartford is responsible for me being as much into bluegrass as I am. Way back in
the 70's I was in that stage of stupidity that many go
through in their late teens & early 20's...namely being concerned about
"coolness". I was smoking a lot of pot, drinking, doing some drugs,
things that are thankfully a part of my past now.

Anyway, I was raised here in Kentucky and so I sort of enjoyed bluegrass music, but I never let on that I did. It wasnt "cool" to like bluegrass music, particularly
when I was off in Columbus Ohio at school. Well, I had this roommate
from Portsmouth Ohio, and when he heard I was from Louisville he said
"you all have a steamboat there, dont you!" I said "Yeah, how did you
know?"

He told me about this bluegrass, well, "sort of" bluegrass, banjo
player named John Hartford who plays songs about steamboats, and old
river guys, and smoking pot, and this guy is really "cool!" Not long
after that, I slipped over to the "bluegrass" section of the record
store and found a copy of "Mark Twang". I took it home and couldnt
believe it, this guy was "cool " as all get out! Had me playing "air
banjo"!

All of a sudden bluegrass was cool....so I didnt care any more
what anyone thought! I was off to the races, buying Bill Monroe and
Flatt and Scruggs and the Seldom Scene, and THEN I discovered Norman
Blake and Doc Watson and Tony Rice and my life REALLY changed then!

....But it all started with John Hartford.......DANG!!! I hope he
kicks this and plays another 20 years..... I just bought his "mountain
stage" CD a couple of months ago.......This stinks....."


John Hartford was really one of a kind. I think you mentioned Steam Powered Aero-Plane. I would recommend that one as well. But if anyone is curious, also pick up "Mark Twang". John recorded it completly solo with no overdubs. On every song he plays banjo, fiddle, or guitar, and he has his plank of wood miked so you can here his feet shuffling around providing the "percussion".

Both recordings's are classics.

"D"

 

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  posted on 12/11/2005 at 01:50 PM





[Edited on 12/11/2005 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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