The setting for this concert couldn't be more charming and comfortable. Enjoy this fun music and then treat yourself to a delicious dinner in quaint Rhinebeck, NY.
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Bill and the Belles have captured the freewheeling, lighthearted approach to music that has endeared them to listeners of every generation. With a spirited sound that falls somewhere between old-time country and vaudeville, the group puts its own spin on a golden era of music, specifically the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.
“We like old music and some of us are consumed by it,” says lead singer and guitarist Kris Truelsen with a knowing laugh. “But we don't have a desire to copy it. We want to sound like ourselves and tell our story.”
In the early 1970s “Fox on the Run” was among the most requested bluegrass songs. Along with “Rocky Top,” a bluegrass band could scarcely play a show without fans yelling for “Rocky Top” or “Fox on the Run.” The song was written in 1968 by an Englishman named Tony Hazzard and first recorded as a rock song by Manfred Mann in February, 1969. The first bluegrass band to record it was Cliff Waldren and the New Shades of Grass. Listening to this bluegrass recording, a lot of people were puzzled by one line of the lyrics that sounded like Cliff was singing “I fillustrate a girl.” Of course, nobody had a clue what Cliff was singing about. Relief came in 1970 when “Fox on the Run” was recorded by the Country Gentlemen. The lead singer, Charlie Waller, clearly sang “I see a string of girls,” which made a lot more sense than “I Fillustrate” a girl, so that’s how most bluegrass bands sang it.
About twenty years ago I received am email message from Cliff Waldren, who contacted me about playing his new CD on my “Country Roots” bluegrass radio show. Armed with Cliff’s email address, I seized the opportunity to get to the bottom of the “fillustrate a girl” question that had been bugging me for years. Here’s what I wrote to Cliff.
“Hi Cliff: While I've got you on the line, I have a question that's been burning a hole in my mind for almost 30 years. On the second line of the 2nd verse of your early recording of Fox on the Run, you seem to be singing "I fillustrate a girl." What, pray tell, are you singing?”
Here is Cliff’s response.
If the “big bang theory” helps to explain the origin of the universe, perhaps “the big bang theory of bluegrass” will shed some light on the origin of the bluegrass music universe.
First, let me say that there are two schools of thought as to the origins of bluegrass music. One has Bill Monroe single-handedly inventing bluegrass music around 1945. The other takes a more evolutionary approach, with a number of musicians and bands contributing to the sound we now call “bluegrass.” In particular, this approach points to Wade and JE Mainer’s Mountaineers as the first band that had all the ingredients of bluegrass music going back at least to 1935. For this article, let’s put aside the evolutionary argument, and concentrate on the theory that Bill Monroe invented bluegrass.
It is commonly known that Bill and Charlie, the Monroe Brothers, had a contentious and turbulent relationship. Perhaps Charlie said it best, “We were hot-headed and mean as snakes.” In early 1938, they went their separate ways. To replace Bill, Charlie hired Zeke Morris to play mandolin and sing tenor. Interestingly enough, Zeke had been a mainstay of Mainer’s Mountaineers.
Maybe you’ve heard the one about the banjo player who always sits in a level spot so the tobacco juice will run out of both sides of his mouth.
Or the guy who makes a perfect score by throwing a banjo in a dumpster without hitting the sides. He earned extra points for landing on top of an accordion.
Or what has 16 legs and 3 teeth? The front row of a banjo concert.
Or what do you call a banjo player in a three-piece suit? A defendant.
The fact is, people love making jokes about banjos and the people who play them. These banjo jokes have taken over where the moron, blond, lawyer and Polack jokes left off. For the heck of it, let’s try to figure out why people get such a kick out of picking on banjo players. What is it about the banjo that makes it the brunt of so many jokes?
To answer this question we need to take a little trip back to 1843. At that time, minstrel music was just taking root, and it soon surged in popularity to became America’s first national musical obsession. Minstrel bands performed everywhere from concert stages in the north, to the gold fields of California, on the decks of Mississippi River boats, and in the camps of Civil War soldiers. At the core of minstrel music was the 5-string banjo. In time, the instrument itself came to symbolize an entire era of minstrel music.
Saturday, May 26 @ 7:30pm
67 South Randolph Avenue, Poughkeepsie
Tickets: $15 at the door
Celia Woodsmith is a Grammy nominated performer and songwriter from Kittery, Maine. Lead singer of the highly acclaimed Bluegrass ensemble Della Mae, she has toured extensively all over the world. Described by The Boston Globe as "Unvarnished and intimate...but then sounds like she's about to part the Dead Sea" Woodsmith has opened for and played with artists such as Taj Mahal, Leon Russel, Peter Rowan and Amy Black of the Indigo Girls. You can find her performing in New England with Joe K. Walsh on Mandolin and also in her Rock and Roll project Say Darling.
Hailed by David Grisman as a “wonderful mandolin player,” the CBC-Newfoundland as “one of the best mandolinists of his generation” and by Vintage Guitar Magazine as “brilliant”, Boston based mandolin player Joe K. Walsh is known for his exceptional tone and taste, and his collaborations with acoustic music luminaries including legendary fiddler Darol Anger, banjo star Danny Barnes, flatpick guitar hero Scott Nygaard, folk star Jonathan Edwards, and pop/grass darlings Joy Kills Sorrow. He’s played with everyone from John Scofield to Bela Fleck to Emmylou Harris, and performed everywhere from festivals to laundromats to Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. After a number of award-winning years as mandolinist with bluegrass stars the Gibson Brothers, Joe currently splits his time between an inventive string band called Mr Sun (featuring Darol Anger, Grant Gordy and Aidan O’Donnell) a duo with Grant Gordy, and his own band. An avid educator, Joe is a mandolin professor at the Berklee College of Music. He teaches regularly at music camps throughout North America and beyond, and teaches online through Peghead Nation.