Part of my Musical Meetings series . . .
By the end of 1962, I was resuming studies in biology at UCSB and hard at work programming a weekly radio show on a new station in Santa Barbara, KGUD-FM (99.9 on the dial.) They were attempting an ill-advised venture to bring a country music station to Santa Barbara, CA, a town often described as the “Home of the Newly-Wed or Nearly-Dead.” Marketing-wise, it was not a great fit with a community of giant estates, Rolls-Royce’s, and golf links in Montecito, along with Mexican style Cantinas and primordial surfboard shops on the Lower East side. KGUD ran ads in the News-Press with the copy:
“Welcome to KGUD Kountry! — We’ve eliminated all the raucous banjos and squawky fiddles, and play only REAL country music!”
Taking this as a challenge, I talked their program director into a regular show of folk, old time, and bluegrass music. My partner in this show was Don Robertson, who could be described nowadays as a singer-songwriter. In those days, he called himself a folk singer. After a month or two, I got word that someone was presenting a folk festival in Monterey, featuring a wide range of performers, to be held in the third week of May. The station manager wanted me to get an interview with a new young star, Bob Dylan. I talked him into sending the two of us up north for five days, with press passes and motel rooms, to cover the proceedings. I packed a couple of Leicas, and borrowed a small tape recorder, along with a match box to hold my clothes. Don and I drove up together in his Dodge Dart. There’s much to speak about during that extended weekend, but this page is devoted to a panel discussion, held Saturday morning, May 18th. I’ll get to other things later.
The Panel begins . . .
After a full night’s music the night before, I managed to get into a large meeting hall early that morning to set up. The small Sony recorder I’d brought had an add-in microphone, but with only a seven foot cord! I had to sit immediately in front of the stage, shifting the mic from one participant to the next (hence the occasional scraping) as the event took place. It was a 7-inch reel-to-reel, half track machine, but I had only one reel of 0.50 mil tape left!
 The introduction was given by professor D.K. Wilgus, who had recently joined the English/Folklore Department faculty at UCLA. By the time the talk began, there were about 150 persons in the audience and the electricity and excitement of the moment was palpable. DK sets the context and does great Master of Ceremonies work, managing the flow of talk and music amid this array of folk artists.
 John Cohen, a founding member of the New Lost City Ramblers, who was just beginning his career as folklorist and ethnographer, presents his views on what is now happening in the folk music world. His brand new film at that time The High Lonesome Sound, was shown immediately after the panel finished. John poses the question: What am I, a city person, doing performing and studying rural music?
 Roscoe Holcomb, from Daisy, KY tells his story about learning the music, first on mouth harp, then banjo.
 Ralph Rinzler. later to become director of the Smithsonian’s folk festivals, talks about his life and interviews Bill Monroe. “It turned out to be bluegrass music.”
[5-A] Bill Monroe talks about playing mandolin (like baseball!) & introduces Doc.
[5-B] Bill Monroe and Doc Watson play Bill’s tune Get Up John.
 DK Wilgus introduces Clarence “Tom” Ashley, Columbia recording artist from 1927, from Shouns, TN.
 Tom Ashley describes his relationship with Frank Walker, A&R man for Columbia Records, and how he introduced Walker to Lassie-Makin’ Tunes.
 How lasses are made in the hills of Tennessee
 East Virginia Blues – Tom Ashley’s version
 Doc Watson, on his first ever visit to California, sings Dream Of The Miner’s Child.
 Mance Lipscomb, sharecropper from Navasota, TX. (Photo from a three-day visit with the author.)
 Roscoe Holcomb, and his version of East Virginia. Compare and contrast with Tom Ashley’s piece, above.
 Billy Ray Lathum and Clarence White, of the Kentucky Colonels talk about bluegrass.
Closing remarks by D.K. Wilgus. Thank you all!
This panel, and later interactions with many of the participants that weekend and in years to come, made a tremendous impact on me and my love for and views of the music. It truly was a life-changing time for me and I’m happy to share these moments with you.
PLEASE NOTE! All material, photographs, and recordings are copyright by Peter Feldmann 2020. If you’ve enjoyed this page, please consider becoming a sponsor to help us continue to bring the best in folk, old time, and bluegrass to the web.