Bluegrass Memories Contest Winners!

The first prize goes to Stephen Brandt of Sharon, CT.
2nd prize – two HVBA T-shirts to Carol Smith
3rd prize – one HVBA T-shirt Ira Sheier.
 
Thank you to all that entered the contest.
Stephen Brandt has won the first prize of two free tickets to the Gibson Brothers concert at the Poughkeepsie Day School on April 17th at 7PM.
 
Here is Stephen Brandt’s entry:
 
It was at the 1976 Berkshire mountains bluegrass festival, the first big festival I attended at age 12 with my dad, a banjo player since the 1950’s.  I was starting to pick up the mandolin, and was shy as shy could be.  I could not believe that I was actually watching the music I had been hearing on LP’s and cassettes at home!
 
My dad bought me the booklet they had put out that year featuring all the artists to be playing;  Bill Monroe, Don Stover, Jim and Jesse, Red Allen, Osborne brothers, J.D. Crowe, Boone creek, Bill Keith and others.  Here I was able to watch these amazing people pick and sing!  WOW!  What a big deal that was to me, I will never forget that festival for many reasons.
 
As I said, I was as shy as they come and assumed that I should keep my mouth shut unless somebody told me otherwise.  I really wanted to meet some of these great pickers, say hello, and ask for  some autographs.  I mumbled the idea to my dad and he approached Ricky Skaggs (who appeared friendly enough) near the stage area, and said, “The kid wants your autograph.”   I think Ricky sensed that I was pretty shy, holding out his hand for my handshake, saying, “Come with me, and I will get some autographs for you.”  He amazingly took me back stage and got all the performers going on and coming off stage to autograph my booklet and shake my hand.  Don Stover was the first autograph, then the Osborne brothers.  WOW!  I cannot believe I got these people to autograph my booklet and shake my hand, clutching that booklet in my hand.
 
Ricky took me for a short walk around back for more autographs, where we approached just about everybody that was playing the festival for a hello and a handshake.  There was no sight of Bill Monroe though, and I thought, “Will I ever meet the man?”  Ricky noticed Bill Monroe’s bus in the field, where he led me to the door, me shaking in my boots in anticipation, and with nervous reservations.  He bangs on the door and yells, “Bill, somebody wants to meet you!”  Out from the bus comes Bill Monroe, with his friendly hand hand extending out to mine, I muttered, “good to see you mister Monroe”, in a low tone.  I could not believe I just met Bill Monroe!
 
Now, my dad gets involved, adding his two cents worth saying, “The kid wants to be a mandolin picker, can you show him somthin’ ?”   Bill turns to the bus and yells, “gimmy my mandolin” , and someone hands it out to him.  He makes sure I am watching where his fingers are placed, barking out a “G”, then a “C”, a “D”, and an “A”.  I can still hear him barking out those chords on that old mandolin.  I was really impressed at how large a man he was, and how did he play the mandolin with those giant hands?
 
We wandered away from his bus, and he went inside again, maybe just to escape or take a nap I thought?
 
We enjoyed the stage shows, walked around to the vendors, me smelling the corn on the cob, fried chicken and hamburgers.  I am getting hungry, and my dad notices Bill coming by the fried chicken tent. “Can we buy you some supper Mister Monroe”, he asks.  “Well sure you can”, he gratefully said. We got him  a fried chicken (two halves), biscuits, and corn.  I watched as he ate it all without any trouble.
 
Whether my dad actually bought his supper is debatable, as I imagine that they fed the performers, but what will always stick in my mind on a weekend 34 years ago, is that Bill Monroe showed me somethin’ on the mandolin, and ate an entire 2-3 pound chicken all by himself.  WOW!
 
The 2nd and 3rd prize entries will be published soon on the Hudson Valley Bluegrass Association website.

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