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Oly Mountain Boys Pay Tribute to a Bluegrass Legend

Friday marked the kick off of the 9th Annual Bluegrass in Tumwater at the American Heritage Campground – admission is $5 per person with free events on Sunday. Several local bands will be in attendance including the Lewis County Pickers, The Oly Mountain Boys, and the Black River Bluegrass Band. This year’s Bluegrass Weekend will be capped off by the celebration of what would have been the 100th birthday of Bill Monroe, the “Father of Bluegrass Music”. When Tye Menser of the Oly Mountain Boys heard that nothing locally was planned to honor the legacy of this great bluegrass legend, he took matters into his own hands.

Now, with the Black Lake Grange booked and the stage set, the Oly Mountain boys are proud to present a celebration of life and contributions of Bill Monroe, Tuesday, September 13 at 7pm. Bill Monroe
is considered the most iconic figure in bluegrass music and arguably the most important figure in popular music in the last century. I had an opportunity to speak with Tye of the Oly Mountain Boys and he says before turning to bluegrass, he “played classical guitar, jazz, and rock during my youth, but I never really became accomplished as a musician, at least not in a way that I wanted.”

Courtesy of Paul Peck

“So I picked up bluegrass to kind of create a clean start with new instruments and a new sound.” Menser says that bluegrass music has an overwhelming social appeal which allows artists and music lovers of all age groups and backgrounds to play together almost effortlessly regardless of the level of the musicians’ ability.

‘We all know the same songs and the basic chord progressions, there is no end to how difficult or simplistic the music can be. You can play this music anywhere, the acoustic sound of the instruments allows you to play or perform anywhere or anytime – its great. Through bluegrass music I have become a more accomplished musician.” When the Oly Mountain Boys take the stage on Tuesday evening they will be joined by Pickled Okra, and The Runaway Train Bluegrass Band. The event will also feature a film tribute to Bill Monroe and his iconic Bluegrass Boys. Admission is $7.

Courtesy of Paul Peck

You can catch the Oly Mountain Boys every second and fourth Thursday night at McMenamins’ Spar Cafe. In addition, you can catch Tye and other local bluegrass artists every Monday from 7-9 at the Fish Tail Brew Pub. Each week the Pub presents The Fishbowl Bluegrass Invitational, a free event that offers patrons the unique opportunity to witness the inclusive and toe-tapping bluegrass-style jam sessions that are the foundation of bluegrass music. The event is hosted by bluegrass musician and local artist Tom Foote.

When asked about his thoughts on the future of bluegrass music Tye’s reply was candid and optomistic. “Americana (bluegrass) music has broad appeal. There always seems to be a cycle back to acoustic music, because it sounds great and it’s authentic. The definition of bluegrass is breaking down from Bill Monroe’s time as young energetic bands push the envelope of what it means to do bluegrass music. Chris Pandolfi of the bluegrass band The Infinite Stringdusters said during the International Bluegrass Music Awards that if bluegrass wants to survive more inclusion of mainstream bluegrass bands is needed. We’re fortunate that bluegrass has a home in Olympia, with bands like the Oly Mountain Boys staking their claim in bluegrass culture I think bluegrass music will always have a place in the Pacific Northwest.

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About the Author

Robert HumesRobert is the music and style writer for Living In Olympia. Follow Robert on Twitter: @BobbyHumesView all posts by Robert Humes →

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