First recordings of Pete Wernick and Tony Trischka, released in October, 1971.
The album 14 Bluegrass Instrumentals was Rounder Records number 0006, one of its first two bluegrass releases, that came out in October, 1971. It did well for the company in its early years, even becoming a Book of the Month Club selection, and reaching sales figures comparable to those of Hot Rize much later on.
Looking back, the album was something of a milestone, one of the first releases ever by a “Yankee” bluegrass band doing what they specialized in: creative instrumental bluegrass. The centerpiece was a number of twin-banjo arrangements Tony Trischka and I had worked up (“Theme Time”, “Farewell Blues”, “Big Ben” and several others, and it showcased the first general-distribution recordings by me and Tony, and of Russ Barenberg as well as early work of Kenny Kosek, and Harry Gilmore, then known as “Tersh”, and later known as Lou Martin. We had some original tunes (“Huckling the Berries”, “Armadillo Breakdown”), and a few other new tunes including the first recording of David Grisman’s “Cedar Hill”, Grisman’s first composition, and his first to ever to appear on record.
Despite primitive recording technology, the record sold well enough to encourage us, and within a few years all the band members were pursuing careers in music, which none of us had even dreamed of prior to making this record. That says a lot about what Rounder was making possible in those days!
While the LPs are long gone, a CD lives on, bolstered by cuts from our later albums, now called “26 Bluegrass Instrumentals“.
1971 was quite a year for bluegrass, exactly 25 years after the classic Monroe/Scruggs/Flatt/Wise/Watts band hit the recording studio. Other first rumblings that year were by Newgrass Revival, the Seldom Scene, the Country Gazette, the newly renamed J.D. Crowe and the New South, among others. Note that for the first time in bluegrass, the band names didn’t end with an “s”. Mountain-Boy hat-wearing bluegrass was entering a new stage. And here we are, 40 years later, and it all keeps evolving.
Thanks and congratulations, Rounder and my fellow Country Cooking alumni, Tony, Russ, John Miller, and Joan Wernick!