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Ralph Stanley on PBS NewsHour

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On Tuesday, the NewsHour on PBS did a story on Down from the Mountain tour and the revival of interest in bluegrass music. A transcript is online. Wednesday they are interviewing Ralph Stanley. A link transcript is online.

An interview with Stanley from July 15th on Freshair is online in RealAudio.

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About Steve Rhodes

  • I watched that feature. While I’ll concede (gladly) that Alison Krauss and Union Station is the most tasteful, talented and immaculately produced bluegrass band going today, I will not agree with NewsHour’s designation of Ralph Stanley as “the patriarch of this family and its music.”

    Ralph Stanley and his brother Carter were notable in bluegrass mostly for being the first copycat bluegrass band. They worshipped and adored Bill Monroe’s music and faithfully learned his entire catalog before writing and recording their own songs. Ralph switched from clawhammer to 3-finger banjo playing after hearing Earl Scruggs.

    I love Ralph Stanley. He’s supremely talented as a singer. He’s a hack on a banjo.

    The patriarch of bluegrass died 8 years ago. Earl Scruggs is the only living original member of Monroe’s “bluegrass” band, a band that wasn’t “bluegrass” until Scruggs joined.

    It’s nitpicking, I know.

  • Billy

    You’re an idiot. I’d like to see you pull Ralphs runs on Clinch Mountain Backstep, Hardtimes, Cluck Ol’ Hen or Daybreak in Dixie. Mr. Scruggs is an awesome picker but, he plays an entirely different style. You can’t compare Ralphs straight ahead driving roll combined with unorthodox 4th string action to Earls highly melodic syncopated nearly chromatic style…there’s plenty of room in bluegrass for every great banjo player and all of them bring something different to the table.

    You should learn more about your subject before you post asshat!

    -Billy Roy (the bluegrass boy)

  • Eric Olsen

    Billy Roy, we appreciate the insight into banjo picking styles but I am not certain disagreement in that area qualifes one as an asshat.

  • Herringbone

    You guys are funny.

    Would it be too crazy to say that Ralph has a more traditional way of three finger picking as compared to Scruggs? I mean I know Scruggs is the creator of the style, but their styles are so incredibly different, i can tell them apart at any given time.

    Now what I believe is shameful is the fact that Dr. Ralph still underpays his band to the extreme. I mean, it was understandable back in the day when pickin was more about fun than money. Hell, i remember going to see Ralph when they traveled in a bus that wasn’t fit for school kids. And now I’m sure the dude is worth Millions after the Oh Brother phenomenon. Give em a raise Ralph!

    The frustration comes from the thoughts of Curly Ray Cline, an outstanding fiddle player and clinch mountain boy for 20 + years, even til he died. His resting place back in dear ole Kentucky was marked with a small metal sign provided by the funeral home. The man died without having much, even though he helped Ralph become the legend he is today. Last I heard Melvin Goins was taking up a collection to purchase a stone for Curly, not sure how that has turned out.

    Dang Ralph, couldn’t you help a brother out?

  • andy

    Asshat or not, he is absolutely right that Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs are the true patriarchs of blue grass. Hell yeah rawhide.