Bluegrass Band Emcee Introductions

by Dick Bowden

This Contest is Closed
The winners are ANDY BING and BOBBI BOWDEN

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Bluegrass band emcees have a variety of approaches to introductions. Some have often attempted to be light-hearted as they introduce various members of the band. Some have bragged on certain sidemen, as Bill Monroe always introduced Kenny Baker as “the greatest fiddler in blue grass”. Some sidemen barely got introduced at all, perhaps with only a comment on what state they are from (also a technique of Monroe’s when he felt there was little to brag about). Nowadays, with humor most banned from bluegrass, band member introductions tend to be pretty sober.

Everett Lilly used to introduce his guitar-playing brother Bea (whose hat was slightly too big and pushed down the tops of his ears) “That’s my brother Bea there, he’s the lady killer of the outfit. Don’t you think the way his ears lop over under that hat he looks like a taxi cab a’comin’ with its doors throwed open?”

MAY 10, 2024 TRIVIA QUESTION

Which bluegrass band leader used the following introduction for his banjo player? “The next feller in line is the banjo playingest feller that ever come through this part of the country.”

A. John Duffey
B. Lester Flatt
C. Jesse McReynolds
D. Red Smiley
E. Jimmy Martin

ANSWER is “B”

Additional Bowden Comments

Lester Flatt is correct. One of his humble introductions of “my partner, Earl Scruggs”. I liked his construction of the words “banjo playin’est”.

John Duffey was undoubtedly the most outrageous and sarcastic/snide emcee when it came to introducing certain band members. He really irritated Dr. John Starling, guitarist for the Seldom Scene, by always introducing him as a doctor, of ear nose and WALLET! Starling told him to lay off. The neatly turned out Dobroist Mike Auldridge was introduced by Duffey as “Mr Clean” or “Larry the Legend”.

Jesse McReynolds was always soft spoken, polite and respectful with his introductions.

Red Smiley, interestingly, did very little of the emcee work with Don Reno. The effervescent Don Reno did their emceeing. Red’s few spoken words were dignified. In stark contrast to the part he played in the band’s skits on shows — Chicken and Pansy Hot Rod. Red would get up in drag as Pansy Hot Rod to Don’s Chicken!! Their skits were like Marx Brothers antics. Those were the days.

Jimmy Martin ALWAYS embellished his introductions of band members, with varying degrees or respect or faux scorn. He was big on nicknames, calling his Dobro player in the 1980s “Sweets”. If the mandolin player was small like Ronnie Prevette he was called “Little Ronnie Prevette”. On the other hand, for some time in the 1980s Jimmy had ex Blue Grass Boy Charlie Cline on fiddle — they had worked together for Bill Monroe. Jimmy would wax poetic about how tough he and Charlie had it in the old days and how today’s musicians wouldn’t have stood for it. Jimmy took care not to pick on Charlie Cline!

Emcee work is a skill, no matter what direction is taken. But an emcee shouldn’t be DULL…

Dick Bowden

Dick Bowden recently retired after a 45 year career in the paper industry, and moved from Connecticut to Big Indian NY (Ulster County) where he ekes out a precarious existence as a groundskeeper. Dick has been performing bluegrass music on banjo and guitar since 1966 in his home state of Maine, throughout New England, and internationally with The Case Brothers - Martin & Gibson. He has performed for HVBA with the Old Time Bluegrass Singers, and also sent in a squadron of Dick Bowden's Flying Circus. Most recently Dick has played Dobro (tm) with the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. Dick has written many articles for Bluegrass Unlimited, Bluegrass Today, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass magazine) and HVBA.

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