The great Bill Monroe Fiddler Kenny Baker died on July 8th

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The great Bill Monroe Fiddler Kenny Baker died on July 8th

Postby jmossCalifornia » Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:03 pm

The great Bill Monroe Fiddler Kenny Baker died on July 8th. Baker played in
the Bluegrass Boys for many years, off and on, from the 1954 to 1984.
Here in these links are some photos taken by Doc Hamilton back in the day.
These look to be in the late 60s or early 70s.

Doc took photos at a jam inside of Baker's house. I have been here many times
in the 1970s and 1980s. These photos bring back memories.

The report from a friend there at the scene is:
Kenny had a stroke in his brain stem and he fell down in his house and
bloodied his nose. This appears to have thrown the doctors off at first.

His oldest son found him and took him to the hospital. He had a stroke,
but the doctors didn't think it was a stroke and they didn't run a CT scan.
So they had him in the hospital for 4 days on saline only. As his heart
began to slow, his blood pressure going to 24 they decided to give him
a pacemaker. Not what was needed I understand. Finally, Joan had them
give him a MRI or CT I am not sure and they realized he had had a stroke.
This was 4 days after he was admitted.

At Bean Blossom Baker was like a Bluegrass diplomat with lots of color.
I met many of women at the festival jams who would go
sit next to Baker so they wouldn't get hit on. They would
tell me that they felt safe with Kenny.

Of course, on the other hand, there was the time "someone"
spiked the watermelon with moonshine at Jim Peva's camp when
the musicians from Japan where there. Bluegrass High Jinks.

I will never forget the time Baker and Bobby Osborne took me along
to a livestock auction. I was amazed that they could auction off
a lot, either an animal or a group of animals, in 6 seconds time.
The animals just walked though mostly. Bobby kept telling me
about these record people from New York who came out to see
him in the 1960s. That they had seen a pig for the first time when
they came to visit. He said that they were yelling out,
"Now what's that animal there?" as they hid behind Bobby.
Bobby thought that story was pretty hysterical.

My friend Dave Thompson and I were talking about how we
lived through some real special times. Like when we recorded
Tanyards and Baker recorded Highlights at the same studio at the
same time in the same room, just on different hours.
We would work on Tanyards from 10 am to midnight and
then Baker would work on Highlights from midnight to dawn.
The recording studio owner, Sonny Dietin, must have been
drinking some strong coffee to stay up all that time.
The most sleep he could have had each night was 2 hours.
We had Jesse and Bob Black on both albums.

What was fantastic about that was that Dave and I were able
to watch and learn as Baker, Jesse, Bobby and Joe Stuart worked
on Highlights. Then we would take things we learned back to our project
the next day. Those guys really showed a lot of respect for each other.
It was like being around a bunch of top notch gunfighters as they
worked together. Of course Dave and I were totally impressed with
being in their company. They were all very nice to us. The first day
we were there we had to wait for the studio to free up. Jesse
sat with us in the kitchen... sort of a kitchen... as we asked him tons
of questions about his early years. Man, that was so great.

I noticed Baker and Jesse in the far corner of the studio as they
were getting ready to take over the studio for the night.
They were laughing it up, kind of under their breath. I asked
them what they were laughing about. Jesse clammed up, but
Baker in low voice say, "we were talking about Curly Ray Cline.
He was recording one of his albums and at the end of each
tune the engineer would ask, how do you like that Mr. Cline, do you
want to hear it back? Curly Ray just said, No, that's fine. Lets move
to the next. He recorded that entire album without one playback."
Curly didn't want to hear it at all. Just move on. That saves money
on the studio time for sure.

Now, Baker would always say that he could record a tune in the first take,
maybe second. However, when we watched him record
Beautiful Dreamer one night it occurred to us that his first and second take
took over 6 hours. They just played and played and played all night on
the same tune stopping once somewhere in the middle. At some point
they found the grove they wanted where the band jelled and expected
Sonny Dietin who was on the board to have captured it.

What great times. What great learning experiences.

James Moss
Bluegrass Website
Posts: 10
Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 6:58 am
Location: Northern California

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