Tony Rice, Clarence White, Doc, Russ Barenburg, Jeff Guernsey
Favorite Flatpicking Tunes
Windy City Rag, Alabama Jubilee, Katy Hill, Jesse Polka
late 70's era Mossman Great Plains, old D 28 Herringbones
Tell us more about yourself (place a Bio here if you wish)
I discovered flatpicking in 1974 watching a PBS tv special which featured David Bromberg, Norman Blake, and John Hartford. Once I discovered Dac Watson I was really hooked. I played in a number of bluegrass groups in college and found my way to southern Indiana (Bloomington) which had a lively bluegrass and old time scene. I joined ALison Kruass'
band Union Station in the late 80's and made two records while there, "I;ve got that old Feeling" and "Two Highways" I moved to Nashville in 1992 and toured and recorded with Vince Gill , Patty Lovelesss, Tim O'Brien, The Cheiftains, I've also been a producer of three Mike Clevland's recordings for Rounder Records and did two solo CD's on Rounder.
I am stunned to read "I discovered flatpicking in 1974". Stunned because the first time I saw you play was not long after that. I first saw you play with "The Johnsons" back in around 1979-81 and you were already an incredible player. Not that long ago I had a friend put "Regressive Bluegrass" on a CD for me. I've enjoyed that recording so much (ever since I bought my vinyl copy the year it came out) -- particularly your guitar play AND your terrifically winsome singing voice. For years I thought you OWNED "Beaumont Rag".
I've been a HUGE fan ever since. Sorry to gush. You've always been one of my favorites.
It's cool to see you here and get a chance to say how much I love your picking and singing. You are what I feel is the epitome of sideguys as well as being such a monster player and singer on your own. When I listen to you sing with Vince or play guitar on your solo CD I always think that is the way to do it. Right there. Just that way!
Best always, Mark
"Good to see the Johnsons pic. It was one of the first recordings I ever did. Where did you see us play? Take care, Jeff "
I saw you guys (and a young John McCutcheon) as the entertainment at the Fort Wayne Johnny Appleseed Festival (where I was one of the craftsmen).
I couldn't get over how well you guys played. I had recently bought a copy of Blake's "Fields Of November" and you guys did one or two off that CD. I was stunned. It's funny, but until I saw you play as you did, it sorta didn't sink in that that kind of guitar playing could be done live -- not studio.
The circles of life are sometimes small, and by coincidence I had met Dave a few years before. I'm and Indianapolis kid, but I went up to Warsaw to go to school at Grace College (actually, I went there to play ball. I am, after all, a Hoosier).
One evening, while walking my way back from the lake to my dorm, I heard banjo echoing off the walls of two large brick buildings. As I rounded the corner, there sat Dave sitting on his folk's front porch and picking. His dad was, at that time, pastor at that Free Methodist Church in Winona Lake.
I asked if he minded me hanging around and listening. He didn't. After a song or two, he asked if I played. At the time I played fake folk on a nylon string. But Dave excitedly ran in the house and returned with a Gibson dreadnought.
I embarressedly stumbled my way through Freight Train -- fingerstyle. Dave graciously said "man, that's alright". Then, when I returned the guitar he said, "This is how I learned that one", and proceeded to cross pick the thing.
Dave was known for his banjo, but he was a fine guitar player. I'd never seen anyone crosspick quite like that. My brother did a pretty decent job of pattern picking folk/travis with a flatpick, but nothing as detailed as what Dave did that night.
I bought my copy of "Regressive Bluegrass" at that Ft Wayne festival and nearly wore it out. The whole band was great -- especially for that time frame. But I admit that your guitar and especially your vocals are what made me nearly wear that record out.
Next time I saw your name pop up it was with Union Station, but I've watched lots of your projects with great interest (I even have some old VHS of Austin City Limits). Mark Cosgrove describes you well when he says "...I always think that is the way to do it. Right there. Just that way!"
Hey Jeff, we have a mutual friend in Dan Vanada. He was in Indiana way back in the 70's and was in the Bluegrass scene (Kokomo bro's I believe). Dan played mando for us a number of years back.
I love your pickin' and singing. I about wore out the White album. I almost have your break down from Little Joe. In fact, when you where at Merlefest a number of years ago, we where the nuts shouting for that tune. So what are you up to now??