Since the beginning, the names of bluegrass bands have been of interest to me. I recall being intrigued the first time I saw, at the Edmonton Public Library, an album from the New Lost City Ramblers. What a moniker: I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I was intrigued. The Country Gentlemen. Jerusalem Ridge. The Dixie Flyers.
When I was first really listening to bluegrass in the early 90s, I caught on a CBC country radio show, Country Style, with the wonderful Laurie Mills- probably the first time I encountered him on the radio- back-announcing a pair of bluegrass songs. To my ears, it sounded like he was saying that the songs had been by the seldom seen Nashville Bluegrass Band…I think he might have been talking about The Seldom Scene and The Nashville Bluegrass Band. But, the names alone sparked my interest. Come to think of it, the Nashville Bluegrass Band is seldom seen these days.
In bluegrass, the names always seem to Just Fit. The SteelDrivers. Rock County. Polecat Creek. The Reedy Buzzards. The Tragically Hick. Dan Tyminski. Great stuff.
Compare that to rock- The Doors, The Move, and The Herd- and, even worse, ‘alternative’ band names of the 90s and such- names that appear to me little more than a collection of random words plucked from newspapers scattered about a condemned flat: Toad the Wet Sprocket? Stone Temple Pilots? Smashing Pumpkins? God awful. By opening the Encarta Concise English Dictionary this morning, and selecting the bottom right word on each of three pages, I came up with Clatter Headbang Select as my next band’s name.
Which still isn’t as bad as Goo Goo Dolls.
Heck, country and Americana bands even got into the stupidity- Gloriana, Rascal Flatts, and Drive By Truckers. Ryan Adams.
What I’m interested in are the stories behind the bluegrass band names. Lonesome River Band? Did Tim Austin and Ronnie Bowman think they would get more gigs if confused promoters were expecting them to sing “Reminiscing” and “Lonesome Loser”?
Some band names are easy to understand- Flatt & Scruggs, for example. The Osborne Brothers. The Del McCoury Band. Monroe Crossing, named after a North Carolina mall.
The inspiration behind others is less well know. Chris Jones & the Nightdrivers got their name only after David Hasselhoff’s lawyers got involved. Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa were christened such as tribute to band members’ dual admiration for Blue Highway’s bass player and speckled horses. Greensky Bluegrass, the first hybrid Irish-Ukrainian bluegrass band.
What I’m asking is this, Share with me the origin of bluegrass band names- preferably from the band members themselves, but I’m open to second hand news (a Fleetwood Mac tribute band, by the way)- and I’ll share them here and at Fervor Coulee Bluegrass.
Contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org
As always, thanks for visiting Fervor Coulee. Donald