Finding the Right Name

Truman’s Ridge was organized in 2008 when Steve and Bruce, already playing in a local bluegrass jam band, decided to branch out and do something a tad different.  Having a guitar and banjo, they were thrilled when Mark jumped on board with his mandolin.  Doris, an upright bass player known by nearly every bluegrass aficionado in the area, had always told Steve she would play bass with him in a band if he ever started one.  For years, she had encouraged Steve put himself out front.

The band was together.  They decided to dress up with Fedora hats and colorful ties. They practiced to bring in the sound of the mid-western string bands as well as some jazz and swing mixed in.  They blended folk and gospel as well, with a touch of Americana, rock and blues.  They decided to play bluegrass with Chicago style.

But what about a name? As anyone who has ever been in a band knows, the name is important.  It has to be different from other names.  The name has to distinctively identify the vibe of the band. The name has to sound right – and you’ll know it when you hear it. You’ll say “that’s it!”

As the band discussed various possibilities, the conversation turned to the bass Doris played.  She had a habit of naming her basses and this one was named Truman.  She told the guys that she had discovered when she purchased the bass that it has been played at the 1944 Democratic National Convention in Chicago when Harry Truman was chosen to be the next Democratic Presidential candidate.  That was tossed around for a bit.

Then the magic happened.  The fact was brought up that Bruce’s father was raised in Crawley’s Ridge, Arkansas.  “How about Truman’s Ridge?” someone asked.  They googled the name and could not find it anywhere.  That was a good sign!  Suddenly, Truman’s Ridge was born.

The years passed, Doris, God rest her soul, passed away.  There were interim bass players throughout the years, until Bruce asked his neighbor, Chris, an electric bass player, to try out his electric upright, a smaller and skinnier version of a full size upright bass.  That worked until the electric part decided to quit working, thus producing no sound.  He dragged in his full size upright bass and Chris was able to play that and eventually bought it from Bruce.  He informed her that this bass also originally belonged to Doris, along with another bass named Bess, for Truman’s wife.  Becoming a full time member of the band, the bass that Chris now owns and plays, Doris named Maggie…for the Truman’s daughter.

Truman’s Ridge has evolved since 2008.  Mark has moved on to a well known Country Rock band and Wes and Charley have come on board.  Things change – but Truman’s Ridge, who have played from Kansas City to Nashville, 4 CDs later, represents a band with many friends and followers.  A band that still plays bluegrass, Chicago style!


Bluegrass Music-Chicago Style

If you ask people to describe bluegrass music, you get a wide range of answers. A lot think of nasal vocals, square dance fiddle tunes, Jed Clampett or Hee Haw. Others might know of the more modern versions of Nickel Creek, Old Crow Medicine Show or Allison Krauss. There are the classic bands like Flatt and Scruggs, Reno and Smiley, The Stanley Brothers, The Osbourne Brothers. The Newgrass musicians like Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Peter Rowan. I could go on for pages.

But. .. If you ask anyone who knows anything about Bluegrass one person they will know is Bill Monroe and for good reason.

Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys started bluegrass music. They named the style of music after the band.

It all started in 1945

The “classic” Bluegrass quintet featured Bill Monroe on mandolin, Lester Flatt on guitar, Chubby Wise on fiddle, Howard watts on upright bass, and Earl Scruggs on 5-string banjo….

Breaks were organized like a jazz quintet, harmonies were tight, energy was high, and the band was rehearsed and disciplined

This version of the band recorded 28 songs from September 16, 1946 to October 28, 1947 in four recording sessions ....

These included such classics as “Blue Moon of Kentucky”, “Toy Heart”,”lt’s Mighty Dark To Travel”, “Little Cabin Home On The Hill”, “The Old Cross Roads”, and “Molly And Tenbrooks”

The recordings were made for Columbia records

They were recorded at the Wrigley building in Chicago Illinois… Every single one…

Bluegrass Music – Chicago Style!