I became interested in bluegrass
music after listening to country music stations back in the sixties. The music on the
radio was okay, but Id always tune into the station right at the end of the hour
before the news when theyd play an upbeat instrumental. Country and western, as you
know, has very few of its own instrumentals, so what I listened for were the bluegrass
instrumentals. They were uplifting and exciting. I really didnt know what they were
at the time, but I knew I liked them.
I moved around with my family and didnt come
across bluegrass again until after the military and in college in 1973. I bought a
Conquerer banjo (it was very pretty) and asked Jack Flippin (near Sherman, Texas) to show
me a few things. I bought the Scruggs banjo book, learned a few tunes, bought the
"Foggy Mountain Banjo" LP, and was on my way to being hooked.
My other passion is flying. Ive been an
airplane pilot since 1965, professionally since 1974. After stints of flight instruction,
charter, Alaskan bush flying, scheduled night freight and commuter airlines, I finally got
on with United Airlines as a pilot, where I am a captain today.
I started Folk Music Unlimited in 1982 to promote
folk and bluegrass groups in Oregon for a while. I had a syndicated radio show,
"Barrys Bluegrass Show," on two stations and actually made money at it.
This ended in 1985.
In late 1985, I read The Big Book of Bluegrass. It
filled me with questions about bluegrass and how I could apply what I learned about
bluegrass to my radio show, should I ever decide to start another (I never did). A book or
pamphlet which started out to be just a deejay helper evolved into what you have in your
handstalk about overkill; I just found it impossible to quit in my search for the
truth and in an effort to be as complete as possible. Bluegrass radio show host Wayne Rice
later published a booklet just like the one that got me going in the first place. I
dont know how he was able to be so brief. I couldnt do it. I guess one of the
reasons it grew to such length is because I let the artists add to it and change it
however they wanted, with the presumption that this was their storynot mine. I
wanted to merely act as a vehicle for them to bring their story to you.
The final stages of the production of this book
began in 1994 when I solicited the help of Dick Weissman to help me put all these two
hundred or so biographies into some sort of cohesive and interesting format. We worked for
some time and came up with its existing form and with the decision that I should
self-publish; I did.