The argument over what is the true beginning of rock and roll will forever be debated. It largely depends on what you consider "rock and roll." The case of bluegrass is a little easier. While it's origins and contributers are cause for some minor quibbling among aficionados, it's pretty safe to safe that the musical approach that became known as "bluegrass" began with Bill Monroe's classic Blue Grass Boys line up that included Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and Chubby Wise. Their influence was enormous. As has been stated by Neil Rosenberg and others, "bluegrass" as a genre (though yet to be known as that for some time) really began when that original musical approach began to be emulated by others, with the Stanley Brothers recording of Monroe's "Molly And Tenbrooks" as the first significant example. Around the same time that the Stanleys made that record, Flatt & Scruggs left Monroe's band to form their own.
And that brings us to today's post. By the fall of 1949, Flatt & Scruggs had been on their own for more than a year-and-a-half and with their own radio show and records on the Mercury label. They were becoming quite successful and significant rivals to Monroe. The Stanley Brothers were gaining in popularity and about to record their second session for Columbia. This was also a point of contention for Monroe as he was also still recording for Columbia and was less than pleased they had signed the Stanleys,who Monroe at the time considered to be stealing from him. Monroe hadn't recorded since his last session with Flatt & Scruggs almost exactly two years previous on October 28, 1947. This would be Monroe's last session with Columbia, as he was to leave for a lifelong deal with Decca shortly after largely because of the signing of the Stanley Brothers. It's also his only session with singer/guitarist Mac Wiseman, who had previously been part of the initial Flatt & Scruggs session in the fall of 1948.
So, if the Flatt & Scruggs-era Blue Grass Boys are the beginning of the style, and the Stanley Brothers Rich-R-Tone recording of "Molly And Tenbrooks" is the beginning of bluegrass as a genre, then certainly these recordings in the fall of 1949 are the dawn of bluegrass emerging by the three original major forces after the settling of the dust of the bluegrass big bang.
Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys
Saturday, October 22, 1949
Castle Studio, Tulane Hotel, 206 8th Ave. North, Nashville 3, TN
Bill Monroe: vocal, mandolin; Mac Wiseman: vocal, guitar; Rudy Lyle: banjo: Jack Thompson: bass; Chubby Wise: fiddle.
Producer: Art Satherley