In June 2008, the Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival in Pennsylvania hosted a segment called ‘Mandolin Masters’ in which Jesse McReynolds, Frank Wakefield, and Bobby Osborne sat on stage facing each other and extemporaneously traded tunes and licks for about an hour. I’ve known all three artists since my early days in Nashville when I played fiddle as a Blue Grass Boy for Bill Monroe, so it was fun to see them together backstage and chat with them. This particular photo has been buried in my photo library and, when I found it, memories of that day made me chuckle.
When they were on stage, Frank Wakefield was at his dyslexic best and I’m not sure anyone either on stage or in the audience really understood what he was talking about. At one point during the verbal mayhem, Jesse McReynolds’ cell phone went off (he forgot to turn it off before he went on stage) so he answered it, and everyone fell silent as he said, “I can’t talk right now, I’m on stage with Frank Wakefield.”
Note: Gene Lowinger is the author of “I Hear a Voice Calling: A Bluegrass Memoir.”