Homegrown Music: Discovering Bluegrass

By Stephanie P. Ledgin | Go to book overview

Preface

In July 1975, I was a bluegrass newbie; that is to say, I was a relative newcomer to bluegrass music. I was a year out of college and about to accept my first full-time professional position. I had answered an ad that read, in part: “Writer/editor wanted: knowledge of bluegrass and old-time country music preferred.”

I had a confident handle on my journalism skills; on the other hand, the fact that it involved the sound of fiddles, banjos, and a lively beat was about all I knew of the music mentioned in the ad. Nevertheless, with a pipe-dream desire to combine writing with some kind of music as a profession, I called to arrange an interview. I remember very well hearing music while on hold, waiting for Roger Siminoff to pick up. After some requisite prior work experience questions, Roger asked if I knew anything about bluegrass. I responded that, if it was what I had just listened to, I had heard a taste of it as a child and teenager living in southwestern Louisiana and in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as the occasional tune from any number of current folk, pop, and folk-rock groups.

By week's end I found myself engaged in a two-hour interview and tour of the offices at Pickin', The Magazine of Bluegrass and Old Time Country Music in Cedar Knolls, New Jersey. About ninety minutes into it, we walked past a poster with a dobro pictured, and I vaguely remember commenting on the instrument. Roger seemed pleasantly surprised to find I actually knew what a dobro was; to this day, true or not, I conjure up that moment as a defining one. I went home knowing in my heart I had the job, and, sure enough, within hours the phone rang with a job offer to become assistant editor of Pickin'.

Now that is not the end of this story. Remember, I was not intimately knowledgeable about bluegrass and all its finer points when I came on board

-xi-

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