January 15, 2021 Trivia Question

This Contest is Closed
The winners are:
Mike Sassano
Wayne Fugate
Larry Mandon
George Nasca
Mike Fowler
Vinny Nugent
Andy Bing

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January 15, 2021 TRIVIA QUESTION

What bluegrass performer helped Emmy Lou Harris establish her “bona fides” in the traditional country and bluegrass music world around 1980, insisting before this person joined her band that Emmy Lou must include some Louvin Brothers material in her show?

A. Randy Scruggs
B. Jerry Douglas
C. Sharon White
D. Ricky Skaggs
E. Allison Krauss
F. Sam Bush
G. John Duffey

Additional Bowden Comments

Well done winners, and it’s very gratifying to see the number of players increasing! Thanks to all for your time and attention. If you’re having fun here, spread the word!

Yes, it was Ricky Skaggs who was Emmy Lou’s shepherd into acceptance by the bluegrass world (and straight country too, for that matter). Previously Emmy Lou had been sort of a “hippie chick” singer/companion with Gram Parsons in the country/rock world. She did a great job committing to the sound and feel of bluegrass and older country. Ricky indeed said he’d join her team, but they had to include Louvin Brothers’ songs! Ricky knew Emmy Lou could make good use of her terrific voice singing those songs with him. As Wayne Fugate pointed out, they did a SMASHING version of “Yes You’re Learning” on the great LP “Roses in the Snow”. (trivia bonus — Tony Rice played guitar and sang baritone on the chorus of “You’re Learning” — their trio ending to the song is just gorgeous).

I distinctly remember seeing Emmy Lou with sideman Ricky Skaggs on a CBS TV country music broadcast, and they sang the Carter Family’s “Gold Watch and Chain”. It made me mighty proud for Ricky to be on network TV. I was so moved I sent Ricky a fan letter congratulating him! I’m sure he must have my letter framed on his mantel.

Working with Emmy Lou was good for Ricky too! His authentic chops were noticed by Nashville in a big way, and it helped launch his successful Top 40 country career. (trivia bonus — Playboy magazine voted Ricky the best country instrumentalist during those early years!) He quickly graduated from Boss Hog of the sidemen to a country band leader and star in his own right.

Randy Scruggs was a red herring on this trivia question.

Jerry Douglas was a studio sideman on several of Emmy Lou’s records, but he wasn’t a regular member of her band. Ricky and Jerry were bandmates with The Whites though — which helped introduce both of them to the Nashville commercial country music world. Ricky married guitarist Sharon White. He helped them produce/record some hit country records even before his own country career took off.

Sharon White and her sister Cheryl White sang a lot of harmony with Emmy Lou. Emmy Lou used to gush “They sing like angels!” But Sharon was in no position to insist on Louvin Brothers’ material.

Allison Krauss has done a lot of harmony singing with Emmy Lou over the years, but she was never a member of Emmy Lou’s band. Allison’s most notable work with Emmy Lou (plus Gillian Welch) was “Go To Sleep My Little Baby” (sung by the three River Sireens) in the great movie “O Brother Where Art Thou”.

Sam Bush was a member of a later band configuration with Emmy Lou, “The Hot Band”. He was her “second Ricky”.

John Duffey used to sing with Emmy Lou a bit when she lived around Washington DC and was a fan of the Seldom Scene. Emmy Lou would sing on stage with the Scene occasionally for fun. Similar to Linda Ronstadt, who even recorded as a harmony singer with the Scene. But he was never a member of Emmy Lou’s band.

Emmy Lou of course hit her commercial peak singing and recording with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton as “The Trio”. (trivia bonus – The Trio’s vocal coach. credited on albums, was Dr. John Starling, who had been guitarist and lead singer with the original Seldom Scene!

When I worked with Joe Val over the course of a few years in the 1980s, I learned that he absolutely ADORED Emmy Lou Harris. Joe had a real “thing” for Emmy Lou! I became a huge fan of Emmy Lou based on the “Roses in the Snow” LP. My sister and I used to sing cuts from that LP, like Ricky and Emma Lou.

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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