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Staff Reporter 

Musicians come together to pay homage to "father of bluegrass"

Bill Monroe Tribute Band to perform at Blue Waters Bluegrass festival


Mike Melynk/John

Premier mandolinist John Reischman will be teaming with Eastern Washington University instructor, fiddle player and author Greg Spatz and other musicians to honor legendary mandolin player Bill Monroe on Sunday, the final day of the 2014 Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival.

Bluegrass fans who remember musician Bill Monroe will get a chance to relive some of their favorite memories.

One of the headline acts for this year's Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival, Aug. 8-10, is the Bill Monroe Tribute Band, a group of musicians coming together in honor of Monroe, who many regard as the "father of bluegrass."

Born in 1911, Monroe was a mandolinist player whose high-paced style developed into the style of bluegrass. The genre of bluegrass comes from Monroe's band "The Bluegrass Boys."

"It was in the 1950s when people started using calling it 'bluegrass,'" Kevin Brown, Blue Waters music director said. "For that time (period) it was high energy. It was polished but improvisational."

Several members of Monroe's band have gone on to prominence. Monroe also influenced many artists, including Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry and Ricky Skaggs. Several musicians have covered his song "Blue Moon of Kentucky," including Patsy Cline, Paul McCartney and Elvis Presley. Monroe passed away, Sept. 6, 1996, six months after his final concert.

One of the members of the tribute band will be mandolin player John Reischman.

Reischman is excited about playing in the band and said Monroe is one of his "biggest musical inspirations."

"It will be a great opportunity to revisit some of his classic recordings and try to recreate them on stage," Reischman said. "I also look forward to collaborating with the other members of the group. They are all wonderful musicians."

Brown said Reischman could imitate Monroe's style without losing his own sound.

"It's enjoyable to listen to," Brown said.

Greg Spatz, fiddler and author who teaches at Eastern Washington University, is another member of the band. Like Reischman, Monroe was one of Spatz's musical inspirations.

"There are few musicians in all of music history who we can say have so single-handedly defined a whole tradition or genre of music - its sound, style, instrumentation, and much of its core material. Bill Monroe is one," Spatz said.

Joining Reischman and Spatz will be Washington-state native vocalist Jim Faddis, acoustic guitar player Dale Adkins, banjo player Kelly Bogan and bass player Dave Hackwith.

The group - sans Adkins - first played a tribute concert for Monroe's 100th birthday, two years ago, according to the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival website.

In addition to the music, Brown will provide stories and anecdotes on Monroe between songs.

Some of the musicians will be performing throughout the festival. Reischman will perform a set with Kenny Smith of "The Rambling Rooks" and Adkins will be performing with his band "True North." Bogan will be performing with "Brown's Mountain Boys."

The tribute band will perform on stage, Saturday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m.

Al Stover can be reached at


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