Magazine article Insight on the News

Bassically Bluegrass

Magazine article Insight on the News

Bassically Bluegrass

Article excerpt

If you haven't heard bluegrass lately, you may be surprised -- this plucky bassist swings.

Missy Raines and her acoustic bass have traveled a long road from her native Short Gap, W. Va. Last fall, she paused at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville, where the International Bluegrass Music Association named her bass player of the year.

"I've just endured" says Raines, the second female instrumentalist to have won such an honor in the IBMA awards' nine-year history. "I've been out there 18 years working my butt off. Some people have this image of a woman bass player as the wife of someone in the band. She doesn't play any other instrument, but she can keep time."

And it's not easy playing bass, Raines adds. "I believe the bass has evolved more over the last 50 years than any other instrument in the bluegrass genre" she says. "And the perception of women playing bass has also evolved."

Music filled the Raines' home when she was a child. "I remember most the Country Gentlemen with Tom Gray on the bass from those days, and then the Seldom Scene came along" she recalls. When she was 10, she dropped her piano lessons and began "messing around with the guitar a little bit." Her father played a washtub bass at parties and music festivals. "Then he came home with this late '30s Kay bass. I was fascinated by it."

By the time she was 14, she was playing at the old Red Fox Inn in Bethesda, Md., with a band called Hooker Holler Symphony, which led to her introduction to Gray -- the source of her jazz and Dixieland influences. "Tom was the most popular bass player at that time" she says. "He was seeing the instrument in a new way."

Raines' career has included stints with Cloud Valley; the Eddie Adcock Band, known for its innovative style; and the Masters, consisting of Jesse McReynolds, Josh Graves, Kenny Baker and Adcock -- all recognized as bluegrass pace setters. …

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