When I came North to Rochester, NY, from Virginia, in January, 1981, I came armed ---armed with records and
tapes of the Stanleys, Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and dozens
of other bluegrass greats. I believed what the bluegrass society of Washington, D.C. believes: Blue grass doesn't exist north of the Mason & Dixon. I was wrong. I found that, if anything,bluegrass music was more "real" in upstate New York; at least it was not commercialized. There are many fine musicians who give themselves to the music with little or no reward save self-satisfaction.
I also found that bluegrass was not recent phenomenon. There are many second and third generation performers whose families lived and experienced the same things the folks of the Southern Appalachians did. (indeed, many northern pickers are first-generation "yankees"; their parents have moved north with the post-WWII migration from the mountains and, so, they are really more "legitimat" heirs to the tradition than many of the urbanized Washingtonians who scoff at northern bluegrass.) They sat by their radios at night tuning in the Grand Ole Opry and the Wheeling Jamboree, and the WLS Barn Dance. They sang and picked on their porches, in their parlors, in their churches. The music has developed a little differently away from the uptown glare of Washington or Nashville. I think it has developed beautifully.
There are a lot of hot bands stashed up in the cold country.
The best of these are the performers on this album. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I heard about a bluegrass jamboree near Syracuse, NY a few weeks after my arrival. I didn't expect much; after all, New York is a long way from Virginia. Imagine my happy response when Bristol Mountain Bluegrass walked on stage and proceeded to knock 'em dead with traditional pickin' and singing
that rivalled the best of the Birchmere. To further the thrill, they weren't derivative; they had a sound alll their own and a lot of their material was original ---and it was good!
This album is representative of what I heard that day. These boys feel the music. They know from whence (and of what) they sing. They are a close knit group, creating their unique sound from a synthesis of individual strengths and a realization of their own limitations. They
are self-taught in the best sense of the term; like all fine bluegrass musicians, they learned their music at home and their sound is far more than slick, fast, technically brilliant -- it is deeply human. And, that is the quintessence of all great bluegrass, north as well as south.
J. Taylor Monfort
September 21, 1983