[Harp-L] Bluegrass Harmonica

"Given all of that, Earl Taylor, playing for Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy 
Mountain Boys in the 1950's would be the first harmonica player recorded in a bluegrass 
band (as far as I know)." As far as I know, Earl Taylor didn't play with or record (or wasn't credited with recording) with Flatt & Scruggs until the latter part of the '60's, before F&S parted company. There was a time in my life (the 1970's) when I became obsessed with Bluegrass banjo and fiddle (particularly Flatt & Scruggs) and memorized every note of every one of their recordings available at that time (including reissues and the famous "Ben Dover" bootleg of wire recordings of radio shows)*and did my best to imitate them on the banjo and fiddle. We didn't have as much information available to us in those pre-internet days, but I'm not aware of anyone other than Curley Seckler and Everett Lilly playing mandolin with them during the 1950's (Earl Taylor had his own band, the Stoney Mountain Boys).  Those first generation  Bluegrass musicians were made of stern stuff, and their performing schedule was unreal by today's standard (I doubt you could find musicians today, with families no less, willing to travel as much, and perform as much as they did (and for as little money). There is a lot of stuff being released now on CD and DVD that wasn't available in the 1970's, and F&S performed so often, that there may be personnel and recordings from the 1950's  that I'm not aware of (I would be especially interested to know of previously unreleased  Columbia recordings featuring Earl Taylor)   During the 1960's F&S released a whole series of Lp's with very distinctive cover art that were produced by Don Law and Frank Jones. Their studio sound changed markedly (remember, Mitch Miller was big at that time) and some of those albums credit Charlie McCoy on harmonica (and yes, the snobs turn their noses up at that stuff, but to me it's just different, and I love it!). That said, due to some physical problems, I don't fiddle or pick banjo much anymore, but Earl is still the best as far as I'm concerned, and Paul Warren is still one of my top three all-time favorite fiddlers. * In regards to the snobbishness of many Bluegrass musicians and the  poor social skills displayed by them (not ONLY in Australia!), I would like to say this: Before we had Aspberger's and OCD, before we had Apples and PC's, before we had Trekkies and Star Wars, before Bill Gates made being a nerd fashionable, we had the five-string banjo. On and off over the years, I have subscribed to the Banjo Newsletter, a magazine which spends an incredible portion of its pages with arguments over whether Earl played the high "g" in the fourth measure of the second break of "Randy Lynn Rag" using the open g or 5th fret of the 1st string or the 8th fret of the second string and whether he used the pad of his finger or his fingernail to fret it. There is also a VERY competitive aspect to Bluegrass-almost like stags locking antlers-as if executing some difficult run better than someone else is going to allow you to eat and propogate your genes.  As  friendly and welcoming as many of those circles of Bluegrass musicians look on the surface, the "Kumbaya" circles are rare, and most of the more accomplished jams are a study in primate dominance behavior. Unless you've already "earned your bones", you have to fight your way in, and once in, nobody but the most confident is going to be willing to go outside of their comfort zone, which very often is the "way it went on the record".  Innovation in "traditional" music (though a lot of traditional music isn't really all that old) is a VERY tricky business**. I heard a possibly apocryphal story about Vassar Clements playing a 6th chord on the fiddle while performing with Monroe. Monroe turned to him and said, "That note isn't in this song", to which Vassar replied, "Well it is now."-whereupon Monroe fired him on the spot saying, "It may be, but you're not.".   ** Like the old Bob and Ray comedy commercial where they advertised the "Monongahela Iron Doorstop Company-Monongahela-the name that you've gradually grown to trust over generations". P.S. Don't forget about Cousin Emmy and Curley Fox-two more harmonica players that showed up on the Opry.Cheers, emily 
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