Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Mailbag

Magazine article Acoustic Guitar

Mailbag

Article excerpt

june

I enjoyed the Tony Rice article very much. However, it implies that pre-Tony, no bluegrass lead guitar existed, but I suppose it depends on exactly when Tony began playing! Let's not forget that Don Reno's "Country Boy Rock 'n' Roll" was recorded in the mid-'50s, and this is the earliest recorded "hot fiddle style" flatpicking that I know of. There's also Reno's "Freight Train Boogie" and his beautiful flatpicking on "Gathering Flowers from the Hillside," for example. Bill Napier's guitar solo on the Stanley Brothers' "Mountain Dew" also comes to mind, as does "How Far to Little Rock." Ifs always fascinated me that Reno recorded "Country Boy Rock 'n' Roll" in a style similar to that of Doc Watson's later recordings of fiddle tunes. This might be an interesting area to explore in a future article.

ERIC KWIATKOWSKI

Nottingham, England

Author Scott Nygaard responds: Tony Rice is not a bluegrass historian, and his assertion that when he started playing "there was no bluegrass lead guitar" may not be a completely accurate statement of historical fact, but it does shed some light on his early musical development. Don Reno recorded "Country Boy Rock 'n' Roll" (see page 108 for a transcription), which most people consider the first "hot lead" bluegrass guitar song, five years after Rice was born. But it's unclear when Rice first heard it. The '5Os were a fertile time for country lead guitar. For example, in 1957 Joe Maphis, who influenced Clarence White, recorded an album of "hot fiddle style" playing on electric guitar. …

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