Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass Music

In Memorium

William (Bill) Smith Monroe

13th September, 1911 September 9, 1996

- The Father of Bluegrass -

The Man

"Dry your eyes, shed no tear

For my dear friends, a Big Mon walked here.

The heavenly path so well he trod

To a place prepared, as he often sang

To meet his friends, his kin, his God.

His work was done

His mark was made

He left no shame, for man to tell

His debt was paid

Would that I could walk a tenth so well "

Joe Wages September 10, 1996


William (Bill) Smith Monroe passed away at 1:30 PM September 10, 1996. Most people reading this would not know each other were it not for Mr. Monroe. He has helped all of us make new friends.

If Big Mon had not had the creativity and drive he possessed to create and promulgate Bluegrass music, what music would we all be playing now instead? He has helped us all find a direction in our lives.

Without Bluegrass as an anchor, what would the extent of music festivals for adults and children be like? The music Bill Monroe offered has spawned family oriented festivals that have endured for years giving old and young alike a place to enjoy, grow and co-exist in a way we would not otherwise share.

His music and the drive of those who follow it has created a industrial family of amazing breadth from Hand Made instruments to The IBMA Fanfest, from teachers of music to the record industry. There are many livelihoods Mr. Monroe's music has sustained in part and in whole.

There are no Bluegrass musicians who would be playing what they do were it not for Bill Monroe, not anyone, before, now or ever. Every one of us has Mr. Monroe to thank.

What a truly amazing man to have done all these things by pure will and having the right ideas at the right time. He was far more than the father of Bluegrass, He was the father of a way of life that countless thousands of us share parts of on a daily and ongoing basis. If anyone benefits in any way from this music, we have Bill Monroe to thank.

His final days were no doubt a heavy anchor to his heart. I pray the final moments of his passing were peaceful.

May the higher power Bless you Bill. You have certainly blessed us.

Mr. Bill Monroe is truly free at last.

Dr. Gary Smith September 10, 1996


ABC2WIN is a shareware program that lets you not only create, print in standard music notation and play your own tunes on any PC (no sound card required) but allows transfer of these tunes via Email so someone else can see and hear them. (I wish I invented this program!)

Acoustic Cafe` A festival and a very nice set of links to various artists and places of interest to the acoustic musician. Based in the Sunny South, this link offers a nice touch of Southern Hospitality. Enjoy!

Automated Subscription to Music Related Internet Lists This link will allow you to gain access to the Bluegrass, Fiddle, Flatpicking and Mandolin list servers on the internet. I belong to all four and several others besides. Be prepared to wear your bifocals, these discussion lists cover all salient topics and take no prisoners.

BILL MONROE Was the founder of Bluegrass Music. With his passing there were many heartfelt shared memories shared on the Bgrass-L listserver. This site has compiled these memories where they can be easily read. In addition, this is a great place to read about the genius of Bill Monroe.

The Bluegrass Radio Network Terry Herd utilizes RealAudio© transmission on the internet to bring all of us the opportunity to hear a Bluegrass show any time, night or day. All you need is to download the free copy of RealPlayer© And then contact The Bluegrass Radio Network to pick up these internet radio transmissions. You will then be able to hear these wonderful hour long broadcasts and interviews with your favorite performers at the time of your choosing. I currently live in a black hole for radio signals and thanks to this marvelous technology and Terry's efforts, I can hear this Bluegrass show anytime I wish. Mea Culpa.

Bob Bradley's Flatpick page is a fine page created by an avid flatpicker. He's also quite a home brewer of beer having won more than a few awards including best in show. (beats my 3rd place in the Midwest wheat Beer competition!). Check it out.

Carolyn's House of Music Carolyn Andre has assembled an excellent page for sniffing out the best in Chicago music. More up to date that most pages, it's a great resource for "letting your fingers do the clicking through the music pages". I've just discovered how useful this site is for me to find things to do and where they are at.

Clarence White Is arguably the most influential pioneer of what today is called flatpicking. There are many 'HOT' pickers out there today but they all have made their name's for themselves long after Clarence's untimely passing in the early 70's. In addition, their influences are directly attributable to Clarence and his genius. All of us flatpickers owe him a debt of gratitude. 

Colorado Bluegrass Music Society: I love Colorado. There are more than mountains and front Range to be found there. Some of the nicest people I know live in Colorado and their inner beauty is as white as the snow on their mountains. Here's links for most things Bluegrass in Colorado.

Cybergrass - The Internet Bluegrass Music Magazine. is a great place to find web resources for Bluegrass (The music whose name was coined by Bill Monroe, not the lawn seed)


DeCava Guitars & Fine fretted Instruments:    The Peghead of a DeCava work of art. Beauty is 
also in the ear of the beholder.    Jim DeCava  Jim is thinking about what new innovation to 
introduce to the world of fretted instruments  was the head luthier at Liberty Banjo in Bridgeport, CT. I met Jim when I would go to Liberty on Saturday mornings to pick with the others that would show up there. On Jim's newsletter page someone described Liberty as a cross between The Twilight Zone meets Mayberry & that is the perfect description but I digress... Jim was such a perfectionist and really decent guy. So often people who are perfectionists tend to be shall we say; 'odd & unsocial' but Jim was never any of that. Instead, he was always with a smile, a laugh and I don't ever remember him chasing me off when I'd pester him with questions while watch him over his shoulder doing his work. Quite to the contrary, he would answer every question & then explain what he was doing & why as he did it as if to answer the questions I should have been asking. The finished work never left except as a masterpiece. 

{OK... There were times he would send me back to the front Parlor if Paul, the Owner of Liberty was watching but that was more related to saving my skin...}  

Click Here to read about The friendship, back-door & Parlor sides of Liberty Banjo & the marvelous Characters that called it their living room.  

Jim moonlighted as a repairman out of his home and quickly gained the reputation as the go-to person in the area & he would always do his best to do things right & then go one step further to make sure he was fair. To say he was respectful, competent, decent and a friend pretty much sums up who I remember him as.  I moved to Georgia to go back to college and lost touch but recently discovered he has continued in the field and is now a highly respected luthier of absolutely beautiful instruments. Do yourself a favor & treat yourself to some eye candy by looking at his Products Page. His Archtop guitars are drop-dead gorgeous and his Mandolins are what nature would have created if Mandolins grew on trees: Beautiful, flowing and balanced in every way. Gives me chills... 


Digital Tradition will have the words for many thousands of songs. Look here first. (If you know a tune that's not on here submit it before you get a round tuit)

Flatpicking Guitar Magazine:  Flatpicking is what I enjoy doing most of all on the guitar and I use the same approach on the mandoiln (OK, I do something called crosspicking about half the time...). Flatpickers treat the guitar as a cross between the 'strumming guitar', a Fiddle, a mandolin and all the while being played like you were white water rafting for dear life. Flatpickers love to play the melody line and do not 'finger pick' the strings, they use a flatpick ranging from plastic polymers to tortoise shell with which to pluck the strings. If you'd like to become more aware of this beautiful art, here's a magazine for you to check out, I think you'll like it.

Fossil Ivory Accessories for the guitar: John Mickelson is the owner and genius behind the fossil Ivory accessories you hear people talking about.  John has got to be one of the most amazing perfectionists in creating beautiful saddles, nuts, bridge pins and end pins I have ever seen. He obtains fossil Walrus Tusk and Mammoth Ivory as well as bone from thousands of years ago. He purchases these rare wonders from the Intuit Native Americans and hand crafts them for musicians to act not only as a piece of mineralized jewelry but to enhance the sound of the instrument itself. If you have never heard of such wonderful things then you truly need to look into this deeper. If you already know of their beauty and tonal improvements then this is the person you really need to contact. No one will do a better job of making these beautiful pieces than John. I have a fossil Walrus nut on my mandolin and it definitely improved the sound. I've got the bridge pins and saddle on my guitar and I will never, ever go back to anything less than these. Please do check out his page and see what I am talking about.

Guitar Chord Finder: This amazing page will show you a desired chord positions for Guitar.

Hot Rize with their nefarious partners in crime, Red Knuckles & the trailblazers are a gift to the many of us who love Bluegrass, Western and swing music. Every member of the band is an ace musician and equally as nice a person on a one to one basis. (Don't leave your dinner alone around Red Knuckles, Waldo or Slade if you want any for yourself.) Sadly Charles Sawtelle who was the original guitarist and his Alter Ego Slade passed away in 1999 of cancer.


John Monteleone  John Monteleone hard at work  is another maker of what I consider among the finest Mandolins and guitars. My mandolin is a rare identical copy of one designed for David Grisman and built by Monteleone.  Monteleone agreed to allow the exact design of Grisman's mandolin to be copied under his supervision with the work done by the luthier Sumi and Grisman allowed it to be called Dawg after his nickname. These few mandolins were distributed under the Kentucky name and mine was bought from Grisman himself. There were very few of these Dawgs made and I have heard mine next to the same Monteleone it was designed after and lets say I am very happy with the mandolin I have. CLICK HERE to read a fascinating Q&A session from members of the COMANDO mandolin discussion group with John regarding his approach to mandolin building.

Mandolin Cafe Is the perfect place for those of us who have Bluegrass for Breakfast.

Mandolin Chord Finder: This amazing page will show you a desired chord positions for Mandolin and any other four stringed instrument.

mandolin magazine (On line) is found here and this is a pretty neat link.

Mark O'connor, predominantly a fiddle player, is a wonderful gift to the world of music. In my humble opinion, there has likely been no greater musician on this planet than Mark is, only equal masters of their own individual styles. I honestly can't think of anyone who possesses greater skill or sensitivity to the music they create. If you haven't heard any of Mark's music, you're in for a fun experience, just look anywhere they sell better quality CD's. I also encourage you to follow this link to his web page, it will offer a vignette of this gentle soul and savant.

Plectrology home page is a page devoted to the art of flatpicking and the wonderful people on the flatpick-L list server. Imagine all the interested people on this list submitting 2-3 tunes and then having tapes made so all the participants can hear their list server friends play everything from classical to swing. One of my favorite lists, an excellent page.

Reckless Abandon: One of the fine Colorado groups. Hot Rize was from Colorado, now meet Reckless Abandon who is carrying that wonderful Colorado Bluegrass Tradition.

Steve Kaufman The only person to win the Winfield Guitar Flatpicking Championship three times, one can justly say Steve is truly a savant on the guitar. Steve is also quite savvy with marketing his skills in that he has produced numerous educational aides for the Flatpicker ranging from Multi-Level Video & Tape instruction, to "come to your area" seminars, to the world famous week long Steve Kaufman Flatpicking Camp in Alcoa, TN where numerous Flatpicking Luminaries showcase their teaching talents. That he is a nice guy makes it all the more worthwhile to see and hear this talented musician, buy his CD's and visit this web page.


Looks like Candy doesn't it.The Beautiful Kentucky Dawg MandolinYum! Wish I had another

My Kentucky Dawg was built by Sumi and is an authorized clone of David Grisman's Grand Artist Mandolin built by Master luthier John Monteleone. 


Taken at the Fermi National Particle Accelerator Laboratory in August 2000  

David Grisman on your right, me to the left in 2000.

Go to David Grisman's Home page & record label


Gary Smith

Any pearls of wisdom are appreciated.

Go to my RIMS ( Brewery) Page

Go to my Fermenting Page.

Go to my "Personal" page.

Go to my perfectly lovely home page.

Visits since Nov 29, 2003