Spotlight On Music In Appalachia 2010

World Wide Bluegrass

World Wide Bluegrass

I discovered World Wide Bluegrass shortly after I started the Blind Pig. From the start I was mesmerized by their streaming music-but once I got brave enough to enter their chat room and find out more about the organization I was totally blown away by their combined dedication to Bluegrass music-and to the artists who play it. The music itself is reason enough to be a fan of World Wide Bluegrass-but once you realize the djs playing the music are all volunteers who are spread out across the world-it takes on such a close knit family feeling that you cannot resit it.

Once the idea of having a series of posts on music in Appalachia started running around in my head-I knew World Wide Bluegrass should for sure play a role in the series. Gracie Muldoon, founder of WWB, suggested I interview Vicki Abbott-who has been with the organization from the start. The interview turned out great-hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Vicki can you tell us a little about WWB-how it started-what it represents-how it works?

WorldwideBluegrass.com has had quite a journey to where we are today.  It didn’t start as the WWB, but was one of several stations, which was the brainchild of a fellow who created one website with separate on-line radio stations of different genres consisting of shows that were broadcast live. After leaving one of our local terrestrial stations in the Cincinnati area, Gracie Muldoon discovered this newly forming network of on-line stations, became familiar with the owner, and he put her in charge of the bluegrass station. Being the sole DJ of this new bluegrass station, she immediately put out e-mails looking to recruit more volunteer DJs. To me, this all was still a very new concept. I remember the website owner used to tell us how, in the very near future, our on-line station would be available on cell phones and eventually on car radios. Each DJ broadcasts from their own home studio using their own computer. Getting the software set-up for broadcasting and trying to work out the bugs was very frustrating. Things didn’t work identically on every computer and stepping through the whole thing via telephone made it difficult not being able to visually see how things were supposed to look and act. I wasn’t the only DJ who nearly quit in the process. Most of us weren’t computer gurus, but we persevered, discovering and understanding things together as we went along. And every new DJ that came on board was able to contribute to our efforts, helping to make the workload of the station operations a little easier on the rest of us. After a very rocky, roller coaster year or so, the website started to fold, but the bluegrass station was thriving. We had several DJs and faithful listeners by this time and none of us wanted to see it lost. Since its inception, The WWB has always been volunteer-driven and listener supported. We’re grateful for the full support of the record labels and the artists. And we’re especially proud of the fact that we’ve been able to introduce to the world many regional bands who otherwise would never have had the opportunity to be heard by such a widespread audience.

How long have you worked for them?

I’ve been DJing for 4.5 years now. Gracie Muldoon was the station manager of the bluegrass radio station and was recruiting DJs. I didn’t have any DJ experience but she convinced me it was just like sitting in your living room and talking to folks and spinning your favorite bluegrass tunes. I was something like the third or fourth  DJ coming on right about the same time as Uncle Billy Dunbar.

Did you grow up in a family where music was important?

Actually playing music was not a part of my childhood, but my parents listened to the radio and albums and watched the Cincinnati TV program, “Midwestern Hayride” every weekend.  So the music was always around us. Names like Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin were familiar to me. When I was in 4th grade, we took a vacation and went down to the Grand Ole Opry. I remember seeing String Bean perform. Just recently, as we were helping my mother move, I found a cardboard fan with a picture of Jesus and sheep on it that my parents had bought for me on that trip. It had lines on the back of it for writing in the name of the performers. My mother had written the names of who we saw. I couldn’t believe it included Bill Monroe! I’m really embarrassed to admit that I don’t remember seeing Bill Monroe!  But I guess at 9 years old, String Bean’s outfit made more of an impression on me! LOL I do remember being in about the fourth grade and hearing my classmates talk about current rock and roll music and I had no clue what songs they were talking about because we never listened to rock music at home. So for my birthday, I asked for my own radio to put in my room and I began listening to rock. It felt strange but soon became my music of choice.  And that’s about my earliest memories of listening to something other than country or bluegrass. But I still heard plenty of that anytime I rode in the car with my parents or as dad tinkered around the house. I don’t think I started listening to bluegrass again until the late 1990s when I happened to stumble upon a small, local public station that played all genres of music. The bluegrass/classic country shows were scheduled Monday through Saturday from 8:00am till noon, so that’s what I started tuning in to every day after getting the kids off to school. And that’s what really brought me back to bluegrass. So I’m still playing catch-up on all those years I missed out on, all of the history of the artists and the music.

Do you feel the popularity of old time-traditional-bluegrass music is on the rise or decline?

Well, judging from the amount of music we receive at WorldwideBluegrass.com, bluegrass is alive and well! I think like most genres of music, it has its niche. But to me, there’s an ability across generations to share the old time-traditional-bluegrass music that you don’t see so much other genres. There’s also a freedom in the playing of acoustic instruments vs. electric. It’s a music that invites the young and the old, the new and the experienced players to come together and share in the joy of playing together. So that sharing and passing on the tradition keeps it alive. Since I missed out on it during the time I was raising my kids, I’m hoping I’ll have an influence on my grandkids! I’m already wondering which one might do well at playing which instrument! I’m hoping we might even have a fiddle player.

It seems to me-that old bluegrass standards continue to be performed and recorded by the bluegrass artists of today-while other genres of music concentrate on newly written material. Do you agree? If so-why do you think this is true-I mean do the words of those old songs speak to us in a way that lasts through the changes of time?

Yes, there are lots and lots of old tunes that continue to be performed and recorded, but there’s a bunch of songwriters and artists out there who continue to crank out some really great new material. And that’s exciting. But if you attend very many bluegrass jams, it’s those older tunes that everyone is so familiar with that you’ll hear at every one of them.  And since I started playing bass a couple of years ago and attending jams, I’ve become even more aware of that. And that’s what enables folks who have never played together before to jam all night long. Plus, the fact that most bluegrass tunes consist of three chords makes it much easier to play with no written music. And that part amazes me, that you can create so many different songs that only use three chords and that folks can come together and play so many songs and sing so many words, all from memory. Totally amazing! And for those of us who are old enough to have experienced a simpler time, or who have had stories told to us by our parents or grandparents about their lives in a simpler, but yet harder way of life, yes, I think those older songs remind us of a different time, either personally or in knowing someone who remembers.

When you think of music in relation to Appalachia what comes to mind?

In my mind, I always see folks who didn’t have many of the finer things in life. I always think of folks who relied heavily on providing for themselves, because they had to. Lots of hard work to make sure food was on the table, and then spending the evening sharing in family time and music. Not that the music was a part of my family’s history, but for many, it was.  And a lot of that music was about the life they knew so well. It’s a great history lesson and also a great reminder of how far we’ve come. And I think there’s a sense of pride and inheritance for those of us who know that so many of these songs are about things that touched the lives of our own ancestors, if not ourselves.

Are there any up coming programs or news from WWB you’d like to tell us about?

Yes! We’re very excited about a new program you can catch every month on World Wide Bluegrass. We’re partnering with Bluegrass Music Profiles to present their monthly Top 30 Hot Singles. A different DJ will broadcast that about the third week of every month. Be sure to watch the home page for which DJ will be presenting the Top 30 program for that month. Also, check the “Interview” page. Several of our DJs do live and pre-recorded interviews. And while you’re there, stop into our family-friendly chat room. We have a fantastic group of frequent WWB listeners and chatters. So many of them have become like family. And you never know which bluegrass artists you might find there, too! Also, mark your calendar for August 12, 13 and 14 for our Fourth annual Grass Stock 2010 which will be held at Terrapin Hill Farm in Harrodsburg, KY, www.GrassStock.com.

WorldwideBluegrass.com is listener supported and this is our major fundraiser for the year.  Our entire staff is volunteer but we do have operating costs such as our internet streaming and hosting and our royalty fees. We already have 30 bands scheduled to appear at this year’s festival. And we’re really excited about this year’s raffle of a brand new Martin D-28 guitar, courtesy of Old National Bluegrass and TheMandolinStore.com raffle tickets are only 10$ a chance. This guitar is valued at $3,000 and will be awarded Saturday, August 14th at Grass Stock. The winner does not need to be present to win.  Check with one of our DJs or you can print off a ticket and mail it along with your check to Old National Bluegrass at the address listed on the ticket. Print ticket here: http://www.grassstock.com/

The programs at WorldWideBluegrass.com are as unique as their hosts. We’re bluegrass 24/7, but we currently have 26 international hosts doing 30 shows and 68 hours of live programming each week. We hope everyone will take a moment to check the schedule and tune in some time soon!

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I hope you’ll jump over and visit World Wide Bluegrass sometime-and be sure to tell all your bluegrass loving friends about them too. It’s free to listen-you don’t even have to subscribe-just click and open your ears to the great bluegrass sounds.

Tipper

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26 Comments

  • Reply
    gracie muldoon -davis
    March 16, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    Hi, was just re-reading this great article from years ago.. and it made me smile. Especially the comments from your readers! Vicki Abbott was a great one to interview, I’m so glad I recommended her at the time.
    We had closed the all volunteer site back in November 2014, but with so much feedback from our former listeners, we had to bring it back. The “NEW” WorldWideBluegrass.com or fondly referred to as The WWB is BACK UP, by popular demand! Tune in.. its streaming right now. Just click the listen page and hit the PLAY button! Wa-La! Bluegrass music, free to listen to, from all around the world!
    Gracie Muldoon – Davis
    PS Oh yeah, that’s new too, my name, I GOT MARRIED!

  • Reply
    Vicki Abbott
    September 24, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Just an update about the WWB! If anyone is going to be in the Lexington, KY area on Saturday, October 27th, join us for a fundraiser at Willie’s Locally Known. More info on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/photo.php?fbid=10152123432815247&set=o.8761483686&type=1&theater\ Thanks! Vicki Abbott

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    January 30, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Tipper, great post I love about all old music, but on;y listen to mountain and bluegrass except for some old country. I have wondered where Gracie went when she left Batavia Ohio area Used to love to hear her voice on the radio, finally got to put a face to the voice on Rhonda Vincents site. Never knew of WWB but will check it out right now.Thanks Tipper for your hard work

  • Reply
    Janice MacDaniels
    August 7, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Wow… great article. I was not aware of this Worldwide Bluegrass and I’ll definitely share it with the local Bluegrass Association that I belong to, here in NY! Yes, Bluegrass is alive and well in NY State!
    Thanks Tipper!

  • Reply
    Lauren Koch
    July 30, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    Thanks for posting such great information…
    Bluegrass, actually any type of music, is such a large part of my life and I enjoy learning as much as possible as well as chatting with like minded folks.
    Hope to see you and the girls at another dance real soon.
    😉 Lauren

  • Reply
    Osagebluffquilter
    July 28, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    I’ve been to the bluegrass sight many times while I surf the internet!

  • Reply
    Becky
    July 28, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    You and Vicki convinced me to tune in. It’s playing now. LOVE IT!!
    Thanks you two!!

  • Reply
    GardenOfDaisies
    July 28, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Hi there! I just stumbled onto your blog, and will have to go back and read some of your older posts. My daughter just returned from Appalachia (she was near Hinton, West Virginia) Thanks for sharing some of this wonderful music with us.

  • Reply
    Elizaabeth
    July 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I had the best Bluegrass band at my backyard wedding that I just couldn’t stop dancing! They’d end and I’d say, “Pleeez, just one more for the bride!” and of course, they’d give me another. I ended up dancing by myself at the end because my husband was too tuckered out to be my partner. What an excellent way to start a life together!

  • Reply
    Gary
    July 27, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Yep, leave it to regular folks who care about something to help bring it to everyone! I’d also like to put in a plug for a group I recently did a gig with: Monroe Crossing. They are a little unusual as they have a female vocalist/fiddle player in the group (I don’t know if that makes any purists balk), but they are fantastic, and wonderful folks.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    July 26, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    You may remember Tipper, that I found you when I was looking at World Wide Bluegrass’ website. I don’t remember the link but I remember that I immediately set your shortcut onto my desktop and it’s been there since (about that same time, I was looking for articles about outside toilets and came across a good article by you at Bind Pig and the Acorn).
    We lived in Kingsport when I was a kid and my parents listened to Bristol radio station WCYB’s Farm and Fun Time all the time. Back then, I’m not sure the old timey music was called Bluegrass but the WCYB program often had artists visit their station and Farm and Fun Time who were struggling then or just beginning or known only by the fairly small faithful fans but went on to become Bluegrass greats. I know that Bill Monroe was on WCYB and so were Flatt and Scruggs and Mac Wiseman, Carter and Ralph Stanley; as were the Stonemans, and Jim and Jesse, and so many other artists that went on to become world famous Bluegrass performers.
    I never lost my love for the old timey music and although I love many music forms, Bluegrass remains my daily tonic.
    Thanks for the great interview with Vicki Abbott and posting her story.
    Thank you for your support of this great American art form we now call Bluegrass and that which keeps old timey music alive and doing well.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 26, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Interesting, Tipper, you make everything very interesting. I’ve never heard of WWB but now I know and I’ve already been able to pass it along….
    Thanks Tipper!

  • Reply
    Nancy Wigmore
    July 26, 2010 at 8:35 am

    As always, enjoyed this post about bluegrass music. Music has always been a part of my life. As a young child, cousin Perry would play the fiddle, daddy either the mandolin or banjo. Oh what fun we had. Have a great day!
    Nancy

  • Reply
    GrannyPam
    July 25, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Great article about one of my favorites, World Wide Bluegrass!

  • Reply
    kathryn magendie
    July 25, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Stopping by from The Read on WNC!
    lookin’ round . . .

  • Reply
    Jen
    July 25, 2010 at 10:18 am

    Tipper, for so many reasons, I am glad I found your blog. You have opened my eyes in so many areas! Thanks you.

  • Reply
    Chip Giddens
    July 25, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Great story about WWB! I heard of WWB a few years back at a local jam place, then Gracie Muldoon met me in person after chatting in the WWB chat room at one the local jams. It sure was nice to place a face to the Bluegrass DJ. I visited the WWB and chat often then found out Vicki Abbott lives close to me too. We were putting a bluegrass band together and needed a bass player. I thought of Vicki learning bass and asked her to join our group of friends that loved to do jams. We play bluegrass music together now in a band called “East Fork Junction” This band would not have a good thumper like Vicki if not for WWB’s friendly chat room of bluegrassers coming together to listen to Bluegrass and chatting about it on line. Now every time I go to Bluegrass Festivals I meet WWB chat friends in person and pick with them too. GrassStock 2010 will be a fun time to meet fellow WWB pickers and enjoy the music that has embedded itself deep into my soul. I love this blog on WWB Tipper, GREAT Job!
    Fishin’ Chip

  • Reply
    Anastasia
    July 25, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Thanks for this post, Tipper. It’s been very informative as I had never before heard of bluegrass music. I’m off to listen.

  • Reply
    kathleen
    July 25, 2010 at 2:21 am

    Enjoyed reading about this. Just wanted to drop by to say hello. blessings,Kathleen

  • Reply
    Farmchick
    July 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    I will absolutely be giving this a listen and bookmarking it as well. I did not become really acquainted with Bluegrass until I moved to KY about 12 years ago. How did I do without it all those years?

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    July 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    tipper; my dad, two uncles,and myself,attended a show at boiling springs high school, in the summer of 1957. this show included bill monroe,and the bluegrass boys, don reno&red smiley,carl story,and the rambling mountaineers. the show lasted 2 hrs,cost 1 buck ea. the school auditoriam,probably did not hold more than 200 people. it was the grandest show ive ever seen. if that show happened today it would cost 100.00 ea.it turned out carl storey lived near my folks in the smokies. great blog k.o.h

  • Reply
    Rick
    July 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    I have always been a fan of bluegrass music. This was a great post, thanks.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    July 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Great interview, Tipper! And what a resource WWBluegrass is — I’ll make sure my bluegrass-loving friends know about it..

  • Reply
    Chef E
    July 24, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    We have many bluegrass people playing at WAMPP, and I wish I was not running the whole thing, so I could go take a break and listen…will try and sneak over to the stage and lose my walkie talkie, lol! Shhh, don’t tell…

  • Reply
    haystack jackson
    July 24, 2010 at 11:15 am

    great article….haystack

  • Reply
    John Dilbeck
    July 24, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Tipper, that’s really exciting. Who would have believed, a few years ago, that volunteers working out of their own homes could create a way to deliver bluegrass music to anyone in the world who wanted to hear it and had a way to connect to a website.
    I know that I’ll be listening in from time to time.
    Thanks for telling us about this.
    All the best,
    JD

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