This Contest is Closed
No Winners This Week
Additional Bowden Comments
Jimmy Martin, the irrepressible “King of Bluegrass” would call his banjo picker JD Crowe to the mic to pick a song by calling out “JD bring that minner (minnow) dipper up to the mic here and play a tune for the folks!”.
A banjo has a long “handle” like a fishing dip net, and a round thing fastened on to the end of it. Looks like a fish net/minnow dipper.
Another great story about Jimmy on stage was when his band was in Pennsylvania or Wisconsin waiting to follow a polka band, yup, horns, accordions, piano etc. Jimmy took a look at the band from wings and ran to the dressing room urging the Sunny Mt Boys to come see a band with a line of horns and a stomach pump at each end!
Bobby Osborne wasn’t much for joking when he emceed. Very understated. His mannerism was to announce where there next show would be by saying “Sonny ‘n’ me will be at Sunset Park next Sunday” etc. but he pronounced it “Sonny-me will be at Sunset Park…” Bobby was quite serious. Sonny was the jokester. Sonny was known to stop the show to PERSONALLY INSTRUCT the sound man on EXACTLY how to do his job. First he’d say “hold up your right hand” then “now hold up your left hand”, concluding with “now keep them there!”. In other words, stop messing with the mic controls.
Mac Wiseman had a radio deejay way of emceeing. Very smooth, professional and avuncular. As if Burl Ives was speaking. All professional, no horsing around.
Bill Monroe had plenty of odd phrases and words just because of his age and his isolated rural upbringing with MUCH older relatives. He very rarely joked, but I recently heard a good one when an audience member shouted out a request for “Let Me Rest At the End of My Journey” which Bill had recorded. Bill said he didn’t know if he could remember it. The guitar man didn’t know it. Kenny Baker didn’t know it. The banjo player Butch Robins knew it and was trying to remind Bill of the tune and lyrics. Bill finally joked “we ain’t sung that one since Noey got off the Ark!” They fumbled their way through a kick off and Bill did his best to sing it, with LOTS of gaps including the entire first chorus. For the second verse you could hear Butch Robins feeding him the words! The audience gave him huge applause. More often Bill would say something to prickle one of the band members, sort of give him a jab. One night closing out the TNN tv Opry Bill said he would play his new instrumental “Tombstone Junction” and added “Tom Ewing here thinks he can play a guitar, so he’s gonna pick it for you!”. Tom Ewing looked fit to jump out of his skin!!! (He was no Tony Rice.) After the fiddle break, Monroe just looked at Ewing, and Ewing had to pick it! He did OK, keeping it simple. But I bet he was sweating!
Carter Stanley occasionally would let go with a good one, usually introducing a band member. But he was known more for practical jokes, especially the old “this candy is Ex-Lax” gag (he got Jimmy Martin with it once offering Jimmy the “candy” just before Jimmy went on stage. Soon, chaos ensued. Anyway, at one show one of the Clinch Mt Boys turned tables on Carter, and introducing him and Ralph said “The little one’s Ralph and the fat one is Carter — the well known Stanley Brothers! Let’s give ’em a hand!” Carter’s most brilliant conversation at the mic was on the first all-day all-bluegrass multi-band program about 1963 in Virginia when Carter was pretty deep into his cups and he made some wisecracks about Flatt & Scruggs not agreeing to be on the program with the other pioneers like Monroe, Reno & Smiley, Mac Wiseman, Jimmy Martin, etc. It was hilarious to hear, but cringe-worthy. Even Monroe knew he’d gone too far and said on mic that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt Lester and Earl. Carter said “we missed ’em a heck of a lot, didn’t we?”. A tape of this got back to Louise Scruggs and it kept relations with the Stanley Brothers very frosty!