Kenny Baker • Kenny Baker (June 26, 1926 – July 8, 2011), was an American bluegrass fiddle player best known for his 25 year tenure with Bill Monroe and his group The Bluegrass Boys. Kenny Baker is perhaps the most famed early bluegrass fiddler; he met Bill Monroe and cut a record with the Bluegrass Boys in 1957.
"In 1955, he released Baker’s Dozen, a no-frills bluegrass picking album that featured a young Sam Bush. By 1957, Baker was playing bluegrass full-time as a member of Bill Monroe’s band, the Bluegrass Boys." ~ www.cmt.com
Kenny Baker served more years in Monroe’s band than any other musician and was selected by Monroe to record the fiddle tunes passed down from Uncle Pen Vandiver. After leaving the Bluegrass Boys in 1984, Baker played with a group of friends, Bob Black, Alan Murphy, and Aleta Murphy.
Kenny Baker & Bill Monroe • Jerusalem Ridge
Baker is considered to be one of the most influential fiddlers in bluegrass music. His "long-bow" style added a smoothness and clarity to the fiddle based music of his boss, Grand Ole Opry member Bill Monroe. His long tenure with Bill Monroe included banjo player Bill Keith‘s development of the "melodic" method of banjo playing that included note for note representations of fiddle tunes on the banjo.
"Countless fiddle players have received words of encouragement, impromptu lessons – even musical instruments – from the man whom Bill Monroe often introduced onstage as "the greatest fiddler in bluegrass music." The countless hours he logged at Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival in Brown County, IN, remain treasured memories for his many fans and friends, where he’d hold court at his record table swapping stories, fiddles and laughs." ~ www.oldtimemusic.org
He was named to the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1999. He recorded many albums for various record labels, including County Records, Jasmine, Rounder Records and most recently OMS Records. His most recent recordings include "Cotton Baggin’ 2000" and "Spider Bit the Baby" on OMS Records. It was often mentioned that Kenny Baker’s records were more popular at Bill Monroe concerts than the band’s own releases. There were, and remain, hordes of Kenny Baker students of the bluegrass fiddle.
"Baker’s recordings contain many great old fiddle tunes and more than 80 of his own compositions. The mastery of dynamic control, phrasing, and accuracy in his "long bow" technique is envied and imitated by other fiddlers. In the fall of 1984, Baker teamed up with Josh Graves, the great Dobro guitar player. "When I left Bill Monroe I really didn’t have any idea of what I was planning to do, honestly… So, when Josh booked three or four days… we started from that, and we’ve continued to be together ever since." ~ National Endowment for the Arts
"Baker issued a solo album, Portrait of a Bluegrass Fiddler, in 1969, capitalizing on the popular resurgence of the genre on the heels of the late-’60s folk movement. He also rejoined Monroe‘s group for good, playing with the Bluegrass Boys through the 1980s. In 1989, he teamed with dobro king Josh Graves in a bluegrass supergroup called the Masters. Also featuring banjoist Eddie Adcock and mandolin virtuoso Jesse McReynolds, the Masters released two albums, including a Grammy-nominated, self-titled 1989 debut. Baker continued to perform throughout the 1990s, lodging a series of tours backed by the National Council on Traditional Arts. After an almost ten-year recording hiatus, Baker returned to wax in 2000 with Cotton Baggin’. The album included contributions from old friends Graves, McReynolds, and Blaine Sprouse. He returned in 2002 with the acclaimed Spider Bit the Baby." ~ Johnny Loftus, Rovi
"Word came today from Nashville that Kenny Baker, one of the fiddlers who defined the bluegrass sound through his long tenure as a Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe, has died. Baker was 85 years old, and by all accounts led a full life." ~ Donald Teplyske
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• Kenny Baker
• Scotland – Bill Monroe
• Kenny Baker & Bill Monroe • Jerusalem Ridge
• Kenny Baker • "Gold Rush"
• Kenny Baker – Denver Belle Fiddle Tune
ARTICLES, SOURCES & RELATED LINKS
• Kenny Baker • 1993 NEA National Heritage Fellow
• I’m Going Back To Old Kentucky #269 ~ RICHARD THOMPSON
• Kenneth Clayton "Kenny" Baker ~ International Bluegrass Music Museum
• Kenny Baker was a Blue Grass Boy longer than anyone else.
• KENNY BAKER (BLUEGRASS) BIOGRAPHY
• Kenny Baker, Master Fiddler
• KENNY BAKER, NEW FIDDLE, AND PICKIN’
• Bluegrass fiddler Kenny Baker was born on June 26, 1926