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Thread: Mandolin Influences

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    Default Mandolin Influences

    In the Gibson thread I like to bring up the growing demand for mandolins through time. For me I first became aware of mandolins when I moved next door to some acoustic players. I got my first mandolin, a $35 Harmony in '72. Was barely aware of Monroe but there was a pretty strong bluegrass scene in the Denver-Boulder area. Became aware of Wayne Beezley, Eric Holley, Jerry Mills, Zeke Little and a young Tim O'brien, who was playing mostly swing.
    In '73 though, Sam Bush and Newgrass was a real eye-opener. Then Country Gazette, Frank Wakefield and Seldom Scene. Saw Grisman with the Great American Music Band in '75. Saw young Marty Stuart with Lester in Texas in '76.
    Then the Grisman Quintet blew the doors open. Then Old and in the Way. By then there were mandolins everywhere.
    So wondering about others experiences.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    In the early 90's (or there about) I met Peter Ostroushko at the Augusta Music Festival in Wild and Wonderful West Virginia. This is where my infatuation with the mandolin began. However, it was still several years later when I actually bought one and began to learn to play.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    Was barely aware of Monroe but there was a pretty strong bluegrass scene in the Denver-Boulder area..
    I grew up in New Orleans which in the 60's had about zero Bluegrass and other "typical" American roots mandolin music. There were not many mandolinists around, and those of us that were playing performed more Italian music than anything else, as befits the only city in America with a majority Sicilian Italian population - app. 90% of the Italians in the city were of Sicilian origin - like my family.

    Sometime in the 70's I began listening to all the other American styles of music that used mandolin, but I never really lost my love for Italian mandolin playing. I can appreciate the good pickin', but only as an outsider.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    First blush of bluegrass (not counting Beverly Hillbillies TV show): OAITW, Will The Circle... LP, first Country Gazette record. Then, seeing Wakefield jam in the bars in Saratoga Springs, NY in the mid 70's, along with all the great LPs of the day - DG Rounder Record, RR0044, etc. Then, bluegrass and swing in Tucson, started playing then. Then, the usual going back to the sources - Monroe, Osborne Brothers, Reno & Smiley, J & J, then Kentucky Colonels, CG, et. al. Many of the same influences as Jim.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    First blush of bluegrass (not counting Beverly Hillbillies TV show): OAITW, Will The Circle... LP, first Country Gazette record. Then, seeing Wakefield jam in the bars in Saratoga Springs, NY in the mid 70's, along with all the great LPs of the day - DG Rounder Record, RR0044, etc. Then, bluegrass and swing in Tucson, started playing then. Then, the usual going back to the sources - Monroe, Osborne Brothers, Reno & Smiley, J & J, then Kentucky Colonels, CG, et. al. Many of the same influences as Jim.
    Wakefield in saratoga,at Cafe lenas? I've seen him there,,,

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I came on the bluegrass scene late in life,I was probably 13 or 14.I bought my first Gibson mandolin in 1980.my early influences are all the greats,Monroe,I've met him several times,even held his loar once,Wakefield,I've met him,Buck White,I've met him he had some great licks,I had a pretty much personal workshop with Bobby Osborne and Mark Oconnor,that changed me,but my biggest influence was a wildcat named Andy Statman...

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Circuitous route to the mando. Grew up in Louisville, Ky. My dad was a huge bluegrass fan. From the time I was old enough to leave the house without needing a bag of gear to keep me civilized I was going to bluegrass festivals and shows. Saw Bill Monroe countless times. Sam Bush, countless times and probably many, many more greats that didn't quite grab me like those two. Bill because everyone made a big thing out of it and Sam because he was pretty cool to my very, very young self. Hair flopping, rocking back and forth, that groove in his right hand. Always exciting.

    Despite remembering those two significantly I wanted to play guitar and that's what I started with and it became my profession. In 97 or so I bought a mandolin because I was living far from Kentucky and wanted a connection. I played it off and on for 10 years or so and then I finally decided to commit and took a gig singing and playing mandolin in a band. It forced me to break away from always being in real-time transpose mode and take the instrument as its own thing. After 40 years of guitar playing all I can think about is the mandolin. I figure in ten more years I'll take up the fiddle.

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    I grew up in a Bluegrass family, My Grandpa Big Bill Smith and His brother Great Uncle Dick Smith with other Uncle Gene Johnson, had the Smith Brothers band in the 60's, all three extraordinary mandolinists and players of other instruments! Gramps kids and my Dad played so I soon followed. They all were an influence and still are as such greats as Duffey, Dawg, Monroe, Wakefield, countless others pro and non-pro pickers! Sometimes the best fun and playing is some guy just going to town on an instrument at his camp!

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Late in life, 13 or 14...ha!

    Yes, Cafe Lena was happening then (believe FW and The Good Old Boys played there then, no David Nelson or Reno or Chubby, but still...), but Frank would play anywhere, anytime in the various pubs on Caroline Street. Funny, at IBMA a few years ago, ran into a cat who used to jam with Frank and them at that time, a fellow Skidmore-ite. He told the story (which I remembered) of picking with Frank and some others in one of those joints. A guy walked in, went right up to the band, punched the banjo man (Skidmore-ite) in the face and walked out. Nobody had ever seen him before, or since.

    The damndest thing.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I had an uncle that played. I have his old Regal mandolin. I was never inspired to play until I started hanging around two local players in New Jersey. One was Ed Connors and the other was Al Suiter. I was playing guitar and singing with them when I ran into David Nichols of Custom Pearl Inlay in Malone, NY. He said "I can teach you to play the mandolin in 20 minutes". I was hooked.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I attended the last big Indian Springs Bluegrass Festival, I think 1980 or 81. I saw Duffey, Gaudreau with Spectrum and Joe Val. I was inspired! I then went to Harmony Hut and bought an Epiphine A round hole.
    In 1991 I met Benny Cain, who had 5 Loars in the trunk of his car....and he let me play them all.
    Those are “influence” highlights, but I’ve been influenced by every other mandolin player I’ve ever heard as well.
    Bob

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Quote Originally Posted by AlanN View Post
    First blush of bluegrass (not counting Beverly Hillbillies TV show):
    The Beverly Hillbillies may have been the first place I heard BG. Like I said, there was no such scene where I lived at the time.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    5 Loars in a trunk-there is a song in there somewhere! The part that I'm surprised they didn't get cooked and that hide glue melted and blew apart! That reminds me of my Uncle Dick Smith telling me he loaned Jimmy Gaudreau a 50's D-28 when they both either were in the Country Store band in the mid 70's or when both were in the Country Gentlemen in the early 80's? and when Uncle Dick asked where it was Jimmy said in the trunk and Dick said its destroyed now and sure enough popped the trunk and opened the case and the top was completely caved in! Not KOOL! That cured Uncle Dick on loaning out instruments!

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I also grew up in a musical family. My mother played organ and piano in church. She had a beautiful alto voice. I learned harmony techniques and how to read music from her. My father sang and played guitar and harmonica for barn dances back in the Arkansas Ozark Mountains. I have his old Slingerland guitar but he was also a mandolin and resophonic guitar fan And, he was a Jimmie Rodgers and Chuck Wagon Gang fan. I did mostly vocals until about 20 years ago when took up the mandolin. Before than, I piddled around with an autoharp, dulcimer and fiddle. I made dulcimers for about 15 years. I used to do Southern Gospel and Barbershop but now it's mostly country. I usually sing baritone or bass. When I was young, I could slip into falsetto. I'm 75 years old and I smoked for a while so that's history now but I can still do the bass.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    The Beverly Hillbillies may have been the first place I heard BG. Like I said, there was no such scene where I lived at the time.
    Yes,the Beverly Hillbillies,the Darling's on Andy Griffith and when I heard the theme to Bonnie &Clyde I was blown away..

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I learned to play the guitar at the age of about 30, played it for years. Then I moved and fell in with some old Florida crackers and they talked about for3ming a band. Well, including me there were four guitar players so I took up the mandolin in order to give the band a little texture. Been stuck on that little eight stringed thing now for about 35 years now and have no regrets.

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    Benny Cain’s 5 Loars we’re in that trunk in mid August near Winchester, VA. Really hot!! One Loar was exceptional, which he said was insured for $25,000. The other 4 were in rough shape. Benny “player” on that day was a nearly new Flatiron F5, the same as me at that time.
    Also, Benny had a list of Loar owners with serial numbers in his wallet.
    Benny and Vallie Cain did the best version of Little Annie.
    Bob

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I didn’t even touch a stringed instrument until I was about 28 or so. Got drafted out of my Ph.D program at Ohio State in 1970 and to have something else to think about in the Army I bought a guitar and a Mel Bay chord book. I bought a classical nylon string guitar – did not even know that for folk you need a steel strings. The day I was getting discharged in '72 I met a kid on at the PX who was just getting ready to ship out to Vietnam and he wanted to get sell his ’60 Hummingbird so I bought it from him -- loaded the guitar into in my 67 BMW 1800 and headed for Ohio. I have always wondered if he made it back OK. When I got back to OSU in ’72 to resume my biochem program the area around Columbus was hot with local bluegrass bands. They mostly played in small bars around the city – those were great places to hear bluegrass and also a good place to get your lights punched out if you said the wrong thing or wore out your welcome some how. But I was blown away with mandolin breaks and had soon bought a Japanese Aria to bang around on – in about 6 months I got rid of it for a ’63 Gibson A-40. By the summer of '72 I was learning about F-5s and that the “old ones” were the best. From there it was the usual 70s thing LPs and BG festivals – saw Bill Monroe at the Frontier Ranch east of Columbus and started collecting bluegrass LPs – I liked most of the big BG bands but the Sam Bush and his buddies in the Newgrass Revival were particularly exciting to me. There were also a lot of great local bands -- the Katie Lauer Band was a great area group and they had one of the hottest mandolin players anywhere named Jeff Terflinger. Sadly, Jeff died of AIDS out in California in the 1980s but he was as good as they come. Probably the LP that had the biggest influence on me was 419 West Main Street by Red Cravens and the Bray Brothers. But I was really more into Old Time as there was a group of grad students who had weekly old time jams that I joined. So while I liked bluegrass the next mandolin I bought was a ’19 F-2 for playing Old Time and Celtic. To this day I spend much more time playing those two kinds of music than BG. I probably did not learn a true bluegrass tune like Jerusalem Ridge or Tallahassee on the mandolin until the mid-80s.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hilburn View Post
    So wondering about others experiences.
    My dad played, there was always a mandolin in the house.

    He did tremolo stuff playing old Texas/German waltzes and dance tunes, and simplified versions of Chopin etc waltzes that he'd learned by ear from various of his relatives when he was younger. He could also do a few basic chords for accompanying his occasional singing.

    Mandolin wasn't his main/best instrument, and I never really got into the whole tremolo sound anyway, but it was handy to have a readily available on-site instructor to answer all my newbie questions about "how do you play this thing".

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I couldn't guess who got me liking Mandolins. Some Italian musicians from old movies and several old westerns where some cowboy pulled a tater bug off his saddle or back and knocked a tune out with his buds. Probably an old Roy Gene movie or show. Hell maybe even saw one on HeHaw.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    My first experience with Mandolin was when I was in college in the late 70s teaching myself to play guitar and one of the guys that worked with me at Pizza Hut played guitar and mandolin. We jammed several times and I was fascinated with his mando but didn't buy one for myself until about 2003 when I saw one on the wall of a small music store near Charlottesville, VA and couldn't resist.

    As far as influences go other than my friend (Alan Jones), Dave Grissman, Bill Monroe, Sam Bush and Ronnie McCoury. I first heard Grissman playing with Jerry Garcia on a few acoustic discs.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Denny Gies, that 4 guitars in the band story is pretty much how I ended up being the mandolin player.

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    Bill Halsey.
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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    I was captured by vinyl …. and location. I moved to Kentucky from SoCal in 77'. I stumbled into a Newgrass wanna be band in 78 playing rhythm guitar and singing harmonies. I was "turned on" … there's a phrase … ha ... to Grisman's Rounder Album and OAITW , Bush's Barren County Revival and T. Rice's Manzanita. I was hooked..... still am. My first mandolin was a loaner A3 Gibson my second a friend made for me my third was an Ode A3 … by that time I was six or seven years into learning how to play a mandolin. Here it is four decades later and I am still learning.... looking forward to playing today. Play on peeps... R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Mandolin Influences

    The two players who made me want to playmandolin were Ian Anderson and Levon helm. I was then put on to David Grisman by a friend, but I wasn’t ready. I came here and discovered Sam bush. I then got lessons from mike Compton, and thanks to here discovered Chris Thile. I saw Jody strecher live. Ted eschliman's jazz mandolin page was crucial. Plus 'getting into jazz mandolin'. I worked my way back to Monroe. Finally, I was ready for the dawg.

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