Bill Monroe Birthday Tribute
Bill Monroe, born on September 13, 1911, near Rosine, Kentucky, is the undisputed Father of Bluegrass Music. He gave the genre its name and its distinctive style, and for most of the 20th century he embodied the essence of the art form, which is typically delivered by a five-piece acoustic string band featuring instrumental virtuosity on banjo, fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and string bass, and plaintive, high lonesome voices singing in close harmony. Monroe's influence reaches far and deep, and will be very much in evidence during the Freight's popular annual tribute, overseen for the seventh year in a row by Berkeley's own Laurie Lewis. "Bill Monroe's repertoire of recorded material was so vast and varied," Laurie says, "that the first year we felt we had barely scratched the surface. Since then, we've tried to get deeper and deeper into the catalog, and the guests always surprise and excite us with their choices." Laurie has been a treasure on the local music scene ever since the mid-1970s, when she fell under the spell of Monroe's music and started fiddling and singing in bluegrass bands in the Bay Area. The International Bluegrass Music Association named her Female Vocalist of the Year - twice! - and she won a Grammy for her work on the album True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe.