I have always loved bluegrass music. Even growing up in Cajun country where Cajun music reigned supreme, I can still remember some of the bluegrass songs that I heard at a very early age. I can even remember what some of the albums looked like that my mother had. I remember wanting to be able to play that music. I remember my first guitar and I still grieve over the accidental breaking of one old arch-top guitar that my mother owned and we usually kept under the bed. Good grief, it was a guitar and its life was over! I didn't know anything about repairing that sort of thing then.
When I was able to get out and meet up with people who were playing bluegrass, I started learning to play the banjo and learning bluegrass songs. Almost every week back then I had new LPs arriving in the mail. Like anyone who knows and enjoys bluegrass my favorites are the pioneers, Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers. And while I enjoy listening to any good banjo player, my favorite is and always will be Dr. Ralph Stanley. At the same, as you will come to know in the course of this recording, I am a huge fan of Bill Monroe's music, especially the instrumentals. I have primarily one person to thank for that, Ron Yule, who plays the fiddle on this CD.
When I started putting this together, I went through a lot of songs. I have been working on this list for several years and have seen a couple of recordings come and go as I continued to think about a list of instrumentals that I wanted to cut. Finally, I started recording and came up with a list of finalists. The songs on this recording comprise the majority of that list, even though there are still other songs that I like better and would still like to record. As you can see, there are also a couple of new songs that Ron and I put together, which we hope you like.
Holy Mountain Banjo is all about wanting to stay close to the reason I started recording, that is, the missionary work that I support, and at the same time, about the authentic roots of the music I have learned and tried to play. I could hardly think of a better fit between music and spirituality than what Holy Mountain Music is all about. The music, like the mountain, is both peaceful and full of life and energy. And for those who have seen it, the LaSalette Shrine in the foothills of the Alps shows the splendor and serenity of God's creation and the Holy Mountain of LaSalette. The French Alps don't necessarily cause one to think about bluegrass. But bluegrass has been played right there in that very spot, by me, anyway, and it sounds just as good out there as on any other mountain.
Many people see music as a means of communication and I am no exception. I believe that music is a genuine wellspring of renewal and spiritual energy like water flowing down from the mountains. I also see it as a great gift from God, a gift which is to be shared with family and friends and even a stranger who just happens to like it.
I want to say thanks to Ron Yule, and Clifford and Sue Blackmun all of the DeRidder, Louisiana area, my long-time friends who helped me learn the music and who helped record this CD. Thanks also to Thane Bradford of St. Louis, Missouri. Thane is a great musician whose mandolin playing is a real joy to hear. Thanks to Jimmy Orchard from Eminence, Missouri, who plays his mandolin Monroe-style on a few songs and for letting me play with the Ozark Bluegrass Boys. Last, but not least, thanks to Andy Dye who lives now in Washington, Missouri, who does the best bass work anyone could ask for on something like this.
Edward James Richard