Trivia for April 8, 2022 – Bill Monroe’s Musical Influences

This Contest is Closed
The winners are:
Andy Bing
Eric Marshall
Chris Scheu
Dick Stock

click photo to enlarge


Bill Monroe wasn’t born with Blue Grass music in his head, ready to go. He had influences. While it’s not often acknowledged, Bill has said some of his influences came from early 78 rpm hillbilly records, and bands he heard and saw on the WLS National Barn Dance in Chicago (notably the Prairie Ramblers, a hot fiddle band).

Before all of those influences though, when Bill was a boy at home on the outskirts of Rosine KY (a town with a single crossroads, a railroad line and 2 churches), what were his musical influences?

  1. His mother Malissa who played fiddle and accordion
  2. His father Buck who played the banjo
  3. His mother’s brother, “Uncle Pen” Pendleton Vandiver who played square-dance fiddle
  4. African-American railroad man Arnold Schultz who played blues guitar and square-dance fiddle
  5. His older brother “Speed” Monroe who played mandolin as fast as lightning
  6. His teacher Bill Ward at the one-room schoolhouse in Horton KY, who played guitar and sang, and led the “singing school” in summer
  7. All of the above
  8. 1, 3 and 4
  9. 1,2, 3 and 6
  10. 2 and 5

ANSWER is “8 (1, 3, and 4)”

Additional Bowden Comments

Wonderful to see some names of new players. The correct answer is 8. Meaning 1, 3 and 4 were influences on young Bill Monroe.

2. Bill’s father Buck was not musical

5. Bill had an older brother named “Speed” but he was not musical

6. I threw this in for my own amusement. When I lived in Tolland CT I knew an elderly fan of our music named Bill Ward. He introduced himself as “being from the same town as Bill Monroe” — namely, Horton KY which adjoins Rosine village. The Monroe homeplace was actually in Horton, not Rosine village. Bill is about 90 now but he never knew Bill personally. But he did know some Monroes and their neighbors and relatives. Bill was never a schoolteacher (he was an undertaker’s assistant) so he had no influence on Bill Monroe.

I hope this was an enjoyable Trivia Question. I hope to keep seeing new participants.

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.

5 Responses

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *