Roll On Buddy

While doing some research on one of the songs for my book Bluegrass Jamming on Mandolin, I uncovered some interesting things about the song “Roll On Buddy,” which is considered a bluegrass standard as recorded by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. On May 17, 1924 Al Hopkins & His Buckle Busters recorded “Baby Your Time Ain’t Long” with Charlie Bowman on fiddle. Four years later, Charlie Bowman & His Brothers used this exact same melody on a song they called “Roll On Buddy.” Although usually thought to be a traditional song, “Roll on Buddy” was apparently composed by

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Diamond Joe

Gene Autry with an acoustic guitar

By Wayne Erbsen

I’ve always been a sucker for a good ole cowboy song. This isn’t because I was born and raised on a cattle ranch in Texas; I’m actually a native of southern California. Growing up in the late ’40s and early ’50s, I was raised on a diet of TV westerns like Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Maverick, Rawhide, The Rifleman, Bonanza, and Have Gun – Will Travel. Actually, I was listening to The Lone Ranger and Gunsmoke on the radio before they became popular TV shows. My favorite movies were Shane

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Otto Wood the Bandit

By Wayne Erbsen

July 10th isn’t a day to watch the fireworks, have a picnic, wave a flag, or sing The Star Spangled Banner. Nope. July 10th is the anniversary of the day in 1931 that the famed outlaw Otto Wood made his tenth and final escape from Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Central Prison was not a place to have a tea party on the lawn. Completed at a cost of $1.25 million in December, 1884, it was the first prison built in North Carolina. They say it took inmates 14 years to construct the original castle-like

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Fox on the Run

Cliff Waldren

By Wayne Erbsen

In the early 1970s, Fox on the Run was among the most requested bluegrass songs. Along with Rocky Top — a bluegrass band could scarcely play a show without fans yelling for Rocky Top or Fox on the Run.” The song was written in 1968 by an Englishman named Tony Hazzard and first recorded as a rock song by Manfred Mann in February, 1969.

The first bluegrass band to record Fox on the Run was Cliff Waldren and the New Shades of Grass. Listening to this bluegrass recording, a lot of people were puzzled by one

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I’ll Fly Away

By Wayne Erbsen

There are many ways to close out a bluegrass show, but I always favor ending an evening’s entertainment with a rousing version of I’ll Fly Away. This song is the perfect choice because everybody knows it and they love to sing along. Recently, I started digging into the origins of I’ll Fly Away, and here’s what I found.

I’ll Fly Away was among the earliest compositions of Albert Edward Brumley, who was born in Indian Territory near Spiro, Oklahoma on October 29, 1905. Growing up in a family of sharecroppers, Brumley knew from an early

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Drifting Too Far From the Shore

Charles E. Moody was not your average gospel songwriter. He alone wrote both the words and the melody of two of the bedrock classics of country and bluegrass gospel, “Kneel at the Cross” and “Drifting Too Far From the Shore.” To get a handle on this man and the songs he wrote, let’s go back to Moody’s beginnings in rural Georgia.

One of eight children, Moody was born in a log cabin on October 8, 1891, near Tifton, Georgia. In this rural farming community, music was a favorite pastime, and as a young man Moody learned to play the harmonica

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Happy Songs of Sunshine and Light, and ‘Short Life of Trouble’

A while back I was invited to bring an instrument to a potluck party of some friends of mine in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. I brought along my fiddle in the hopes of finding some bluegrass musicians to jam with.

When I arrived at the converted barn where the party was being held, I saw a guitar learning up against the corner, so I sidled up to the guitar’s owner and introduced myself. As I shook howdy with him I asked him what kind of music he played, so I’d know whether our styles would be compatible. But

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Roll On Buddy” – Lyrics + Tab for Mandolin and Fiddle

While doing some research on one of the songs for my book Bluegrass Jamming on Mandolin, I uncovered some interesting things about the song “Roll On Buddy,” which is considered a bluegrass standard as recorded by Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. On May 17, 1924 Al Hopkins & His Buckle Busters recorded “Baby Your Time Ain’t Long” with Charlie Bowman on fiddle. Four years later, Charlie Bowman & His Brothers used this exact same melody on a song they called “Roll On Buddy.” Although usually thought to be a traditional song, “Roll on Buddy” was apparently composed by

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‘Run Mountain’ – Music + Lyrics

Among the more bizarre songs in old-time and early country music is one called Run Mountain. The song is curious both for the melody and because some of the lyrics are rather mysterious. The melody is set in the key of G but it starts in the key of A. By the time the chorus comes around, it is in the key of G. Are you confused yet? If so, join the club!  As if the melody and the key changes are not strange enough, what really takes the cake are the words to the chorus. More on this

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Ralph Stanley’s ‘I’ve Just Seen the Rock of Ages’ – Bluegrass Banjo Tab

By Wayne Erbsen

Ralph Stanley Photo by Jim Scancarelli

Cold chills. That’s what I get when I hear the eerie voice of Ralph Stanley. You can say that I’ve been a true blue Stanley Brothers nut since I first heard them in 1962. Just thumbing through my collection of LPs, I count 58 Stanley Brothers or Ralph Stanley albums, and that doesn’t include several bootleg CDs of live shows. Most of the albums have been played half to death.

When I heard that Ralph had passed away, I felt a deep sense of sadness. Of course, I started to think of all the Stanley Brothers songs

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