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Come Hither to Go Yonder

Come Hither to Go Yonder: Playing Bluegrass with Bill Monroe

Bob Black
Foreword by Neil V. Rosenberg
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Come Hither to Go Yonder
    Book Description:

    While other work on Bill Monroe has been written from a historical point of view, Come Hither to Go Yonder is told from the perspective of a musician who was actually there. Filled with observations made from the unique vantage point of a man who has traveled and performed extensively with the master, this book is Bob Black's personal memoir about the profound influence that Monroe exerted on the musicians who have carried on the bluegrass tradition in the wake of his 1996 death. _x000B_This volume also includes a complete listing of Bob Black's appearances with Monroe, his most memorable experiences while they worked together, brief descriptions of the more important musicians and bands mentioned, and suggestions for further reading and listening. Offering a rare perspective on the creative forces that drove one of America's greatest composers and musical innovators, Come Hither to Go Yonder will deeply reward any fans of Bill Monroe, of bluegrass, or of American vernacular music._x000B__x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09056-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)
    Neil V. Rosenberg

    In 1988 Bill Monroe said: “I believe Bob Black is the best playing fiddle tunes of any banjo player.”¹ His statement came in an interview by Tony Trischka and Peter Wernick for their bookMasters of the Five-String Banjo. They asked him about banjo players who’d made a big contribution to his music and Monroe, whose music drew deeply from the fiddle-dominated old-time rural southern music of his youth, shaped the answer to reflect his perspective: a good banjo player knows how to play the fiddle pieces.

    The sound of the five-string banjo is familiar today from soundtracks such as...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    “And now ladies and gentlemen, let’s make welcome a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame—here he is with his Blue Grass Boys—the great Bill Monroe!”

    That was how announcer Grant Turner introduced Bill on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, and as we took our places at the microphones, Mr. Turner continued in his well-practiced yet sincere tone of voice:“Give him a great big hand—Bill’s coming out to center stage to play for you right now.”A crescendo of applause rose up from an adoring audience.

    “Howdy, folks, howdy—we’re glad to be with...

    (pp. 9-29)

    “Let’s never forget the old days.” Bill’s voice was soft and sincere. He always spoke from his heart. My wife, Kristie Black, and I were visiting my old boss on his farm just outside of Nashville one day in early November 1992. We were on our way to Cedars of Lebanon State Park where I had been invited to supervise some banjo workshops at the Tennessee Banjo Institute. At the last minute, we had decided to drive out to Bill’s place just to see if he was there. It was a beautiful afternoon, and the sun was shining on the...

    (pp. 30-52)

    When I got to VanAtta’s, I found that we wouldn’t be taking Bill’s tour bus, the Blue Grass Special, because it was having mechanical problems. Instead we would be riding in Bill’s station wagon, a brand new shiny red Pontiac Safari with matching red interior. (Later on we occasionally used bass player Randy Davis’s Buick station wagon.) Two of the Blue Grass Boys were not present—Randy Davis and Ralph Lewis (who was the guitar player). They both lived in Asheville, North Carolina, which was near Black Mountain, so they were meeting us at the festival.

    I felt very aware...

    (pp. 53-74)

    Bill never walked out on stage with a script. His musical performances weren’t planned out ahead of time. Many entertainers (including me) write themselves a list of the songs they intend to play during their show, along with the key in which each song is to be played. Performing came naturally for Bill, however, it was as much a part of his life as eating or sleeping. He never told us what key the songs would be in before he announced them to the audience. He just introduced the title and away we would go. I’m indeed grateful that he...

  9. 4. BLUEGRASS 101
    (pp. 75-95)

    I thought I was a good banjo player when I first joined the Blue Grass Boys. I quickly found out, however, that I didn’t know as much as I had thought; to quote Ralph Lewis: “I thought I knew all the answers, but I didn’t even have the questions right.” To Bill Monroe, rhythm and timing were all-important, and I found I really had to work to meet his expectations. When I had performed with bluegrass bands back in Iowa, we played our musical passages comparatively slowly and deliberately, giving each note an individual expression of importance. We concentrated on...

    (pp. 96-119)

    Because Bill Monroe was the Father of Bluegrass, his songs could appropriately be called the Children of Bluegrass. Their ancestry is traceable to the traditional musical influences to which Bill had been exposed from early childhood. Modern-day descendants of old-time melodies, Bill’s compositions were his own personal link with the past. He searched for what he called “ancient tones”—sounds that reflected time-honored tradition and gave a sense of immortality to the music that was his progeny.

    Many times we Blue Grass Boys were witness to the genesis of a new Bill Monroe tune. He often composed melodies while riding...

    (pp. 120-139)

    I was still a Blue Grass Boy—I would always be one. Playing with Bill Monroe was something that would never leave me. You could never forget Bill, once you got to know him; he stayed with you in spirit, influencing your habits and ways of thinking. His concepts about music left a permanent mark on me; his attitudes, expressions, and beliefs were always there as a point of comparison in all my ways of thinking. I crossed paths with Bill Monroe many times during the years that followed, and each occasion was a reminder of what an immense influence...

    (pp. 140-156)

    Bill Monroe walked straight into a beam of sunlight striking the stage, bowing his head and raising his arms while the audience roared. Rumors had been flying—it was going to be the last Bean Blossom bluegrass festival. Bill was bringing it to an end—1989 would mark the final year.

    That wasn’t to be the case, after all. Bill announced from stage that he had just made the decision to continue the festival. Applause cascaded through the shade trees of the concert area. This time, however, the handclaps and cheers sounded different than those which always followed a musical...

  13. Afterword
    (pp. 157-160)

    I told Bill before I left the Blue Grass Boys that I was going to write this book. At that time, I asked if he would be willing to write a few words as a foreword. He said to me: “I’ll be glad to help you any way I can.” Bill’s endorsement of this book will have to be made later—in the hereafter. I feel sure it will be a good endorsement, however, because I’ve stuck to the truth. It’s taken me almost thirty years to get the book written, and it’s been a cathartic experience in many ways....

  14. Appendix A: A Record of Personal Appearances
    (pp. 161-166)
  15. Appendix B: Additional Information about Some of the People and Groups Mentioned
    (pp. 167-174)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 175-178)
  17. Suggested Listening and Reading
    (pp. 179-180)
  18. Index
    (pp. 181-188)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 189-194)