A light, airy, effervescent, blog of grave consequence. (NOT!) Dedicated to those of us who must respond to negative stimuli by Chernobyling (entombing in concrete) our innermost thoughts.

Location: Slaughter, Louisiana, United States

A semi-gruntled corporate reliability engineer trying to make ends meet while keeping my wife happy, and myself out of the asylum.

Friday, September 16, 2011

He was a friend of mine.

He died without a penny.
He didn't have a dime.
He was a friend of mine.

So for some time on and off I've been whining at the folks at Bluegrass Junction because I never hear any Greenbriar Boys. And I especially don't hear and Dian and the Greenbriar Boys.

That strikes me as unfortunate as the Greenbriar Boys were instrumental (heh) in the early formation of the New York folk scene in the late 50's and early 60's.

I might even go so far as to put them on a similar tier as the West Coast's Seldom Scene, although they were somewhat less prolific.

Potentially, because of their affiliation with the urban folk scene rather than the typical rural audience of Bill Monroe and The Stanley Brothers, they have been somewhat ostracized from standard playlists. (They did tour for some time with Joan Baez as her backing band. Additionally, in 1961, a little known "singer" songwriter named Bob Dylan, performed for the first time; as the opening act for the Greenbriar Boys in New York City.)

The longest serving members of the Greenbriar Boys have had some profound effects on the Bluegrass and Folk cultures in the US regardless of their lack of recognition.

Bob Yellin, banjo and vocals, was heavily influenced by the "new" Scruggs-style of banjo picking that was becoming popular in the years after Earl joined Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, brought that style further into the heart of the New York folk scene than any other musician of his era.

John Herald, guitar and vocals, wrote many of the best known Greenbriar Boys songs, "Stewball" also recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary for example. After the Greenbriar Boys, John's career continued as a singer and session guitarist, recording with Bonnie Raitt, Doc Watson, Bette Midler, Ian and Syvia, and others.

Ralph Rinzler, Mandolin and vocals, credited with "discovering" Doc Watson, the greatest bluegrass guitar picker in history, as well as showcasing a vocal and musical arrangement style that foreshadowed the rise of the John Hartford String Band, after the Greenbriar Boys he went on to become the curator for American art, music, and folk culture at the Smithsonian Museum. The museum honored his life's work by naming the "Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives Collection" after him.

I'm sure, if I wanted to study it, I could find a lot more connections related to the Greenbriar Boys. Unfortunately, they will probably remain and obscure east-coast band because they are widely regarded as folk rather than bluegrass.

I've offered Sirius XM my copies of their CD's in case they want to add them to the rotation. We'll see if they take me up on it.


Anonymous Sweet Pea said...

Very interesting. Puppy's Pop and I still listen to Diane and the Greenbriar Boys. I've always like that record!

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Sweet Pea said...

Oops! Misspelled Dian! Mea maxima culpa.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Perry Rose said...

Back in the early 1960's radio stations would have a folk hour or something. WBZ 1030 AM in Boston had one called Hootennanny. That's where I first heard Dian and the Greenbriar Boys do He was a friend. I found the album shortly after and bought it. I still think it's the best Bluegrass album ever.

5:49 AM  
Blogger 2Evil4U said...

I was certainly glad to find it (and a few of their others) on CD. It's interesting how far times have come. These were the end of the beats and the beginning of the hipsters. Yet they still included several overtly christian songs on the album. We really are where we are because of the hippies.

9:01 PM  

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