During a recent assignment to Kentucky, we had the chance to visit the little town of Rosine and the birthplace of Bill Monroe, who’s often known as the Father of Bluegrass.
Bill Monroe is the man who did more than anyone to popularise the bluegrass sound. He grew up listening to traditional ‘mountain music’, and later, along with his band the Bluegrass Boys, he set down the building blocks of bluegrass – a ‘high and lonesome’ vocal backed by mandolin, guitar, fiddle and bass.
While we were visiting the Bill Monroe homeplace, we got to spend the afternoon with musicians Campbell Mercer and his wife Julie. Campbell Mercer has his own bluegrass band, the Cumberland Highlanders, and also organises the annual Jerusalem Ridge Music Festival, held every year in the woods next to Bill Monroe’s cabin.
We also had the honour of meeting their friend Durl Burdon, who was generous enough to let us film him performing a bit of country hot-stepping. It’s not as easy as it looks.
Campbell is playing the mandolin in this video, and Julie is on the guitar.
You can find out more about the Cumberland Highlanders at their Facebook page.