John Duffey’s Bluegrass Life: Featuring The Country Gentlemen, Seldom Scene and Washington, D.C. with a Foreword by Tom Gray is the definitive biography of one of bluegrass music’s most important artists of the genre. Through his work as a founding member of these two pioneering bands, John Duffey urbanized bluegrass and introduced it to a broad new audience. John’s quotes from a four-hour, never-before-published 1984 interview are italicized throughout and provide the book’s foundation.
The book begins with a profile of his father, John Humbird Duffey Sr, Metropolitan Opera star and chronicles Duffey’s earliest exposure to music, listening to opera on the radio with his dad. Childhood friends Bill Blackburn, Bill Emerson, and Sterling Ellsworth serve up memories of Duffey from the 2nd grade through high school.
Accounts of Duffey’s early musical career provide an overview of John’s first bands, leading up to how The Country Gentlemen were formed following a horrific car accident. The Country Gentlemen’s Bill Emerson, Charlie Waller, Eddie Adcock, and Tom Gray are profiled and interviewed.
For the first time, John’s biological daughter, Ginger “Sam” Allred, speaks candidly about her relationship with both Duffey, and her father, Pete Kuykendall. Duffey discusses why he quit The Country Gentlemen, setting up the complete story of The Seldom Scene, as told by Duffey, John Starling, Ben Eldridge, Dave Auldridge, Mike Auldridge, Phil Rosenthal, and Tom Gray.
More than 50 rare or never-before-seen photographs create a fascinating portrait of the complex, iconoclastic entertainer. Gary Oelze, the owner of the Birchmere music club where the Scene became stars, share his memories of John.
Sam Bush, Jonathan Edwards, Pete Kennedy, Martha Adcock, Akira Otsuka, Dick Cerri, Emmylou Harris, Jimmy Gaudreau, Bryan Bowers, Peter “Dr. Banjo” Wernick, Tom Travis, Cliff Waldron, and others are among the many voices that contribute informative and compelling interviews.
The book’s narrative is supplemented with a 43-page Discography that provides track listings, recording dates, producers, composers, and musicians for every time Duffey entered a recording studio. The book includes a Duffey genealogy and index.
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About the Author
G.T. Keplinger is a long-time bluegrass fan, historian, and archivist. His MFA thesis project was a documentary on The Seldom Scene. An Associate Professor of film at Stevenson University, he lives in Towson, MD.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Humbird in the Nest
Chapter 2: Reasons for Being
Chapter 3: Accidental Gentlemen
Chapter 4: Charlie Waller
Chapter 5: Blame It on Tom’s Baby Sitter
Chapter 6: Eddie and Martha Adcock
Chapter 7: The Gents’ Break Through
Chapter 8: Sam, Rick, Pete, and John
Chapter 9: Only a Few Friends
Chapter 10: So, You Don’t Like The Way We Do It (or Damn Your Tape Recorder) by John Duffey
Chapter 11: Dr. Stanley’s Rant
Chapter 12. The Gents Lose John
Chapter 13: Seldom Scene, Often Heard
Chapter 14: Surgeon Starling
Chapter 15: Mathematician Ben
Chapter 16: Artist Auldridge
Chapter 17: Songwriter Phil
Chapter 18: The Birchmere’s Gary Oelze
Chapter 19: Akira Otsuka
Chapter 20: Presidents, Pistols, and Other Tales
Chapter 21. The “New” Seldom Scene
Chapter 22: Sound Decisions
Chapter 23: The UK Interview by Tom Travis
Chapter 24: Fellow Players
Chapter 25: A Few Reviews
Chapter 26: Festivals Forte
Chapter 27: The Scene Beyond: Side One
Chapter 28: The Scene Beyond: Side Two
Chapter 29: Fare Thee Well
A Mandolin For All Seasons
Appendix 1: John Duffey’s Roots By Robert Kyle
Appendix 2: Duffey Discography