Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bluegrass Legend Curly Seckler to Celebrate Two Milestones

Bluegrass music legend Curly Seckler has two reasons to celebrate coming up. A special Christmas finds Seckler celebrating his own 90th birthday. Then, as we enter 2010, seckler will celebrate his 75th year as a professional musician. Seckler began his career in music in 1935, performing with his brothers in a band called the Yodeling Rangers, on WSTP radio in Salisbury, NC. In 1939 he hit the big time, when Charlie Monroe recruited him to sing harmony in his new group after the breakup of the Monroe Brothers. Curly worked several stints with Charlie Monroe early in his career. He also teamed with various other bluegrass pioneers, including Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, The Sauceman Brothers, and The Stanley Brothers.

On December 25, 2009 bluegrass legend Curly Seckler will celebrate his 90th birthday! Curly was born in 1919 in China Grove, North Carolina. He began his musical career on WSTP radio in Salisbury, NC in 1935, in a family band called the Yodeling Rangers. He performed in pioneering bluegrass bands with Charlie Monroe, Dan Bailey, Mac Wiseman, The Stanley Brothers, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, and The Sauceman Brothers, but is best known for his dozen years as a member of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys. During his tenure with them, he played mandolin and sang tenor on well over 100 of their greatest recordings. After Flatt and Scruggs parted ways, Curly joined Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass. Following Flatt's death in 1979, Curly took over leadership of the group for another fifteen years, headlining at bluegrass festivals across the country.
In 1994, at age 74, Curly disbanded the Nashville Grass and ceased full-time touring. However he continued to write songs, to record, and to perform at selected events. In 2004 he was inducted into the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Hall of Fame. Rather than resting on his laurels, Seckler was inspired by that honor to embark upon a career resurgence of sorts. At age 84 he made a series of new recordings and began performing again at bluegrass festivals, concert halls, and on radio and television. His recent performances have included MerleFest, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, IBMA's Fan Fest and Awards Show, the River of Music Party in Owensboro, KY, Song of the Mountains TV show, UNC-TV's North Carolina People show, and Ernest Tubb Records' Midnite Jamboree over WSM radio.

In 2010, Curly Seckler will mark his 75th anniversary as a professional musician, a milestone accomplished by very few. In 1949 Curly joined Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ Foggy Mountain Boys, as tenor singer and mandolin player. Except for a couple of brief absences, he remained with Flatt & Scruggs until 1962. During that time he recorded well over 100 songs with them, including many of their best known and most popular hits (“Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” “Salty Dog Blues,” “I’ll Go Stepping Too,” “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke,” etc.). Several of Curly’s original songs were recorded by Flatt & Scruggs, including “No Mother Or Dad” and “That Old Book of Mine.”

The Lester Flatt/Curly Seckler duets from the 1950s are still considered to be among the best bluegrass performances ever. In addition, Curly’s rock-solid “chop” rhythm on mandolin was the foundation of the Foggy Mountain Boys’ instrumental sound during his tenure. Millions of fans are now able to experience the magic of this great band through the DVDs of classic Flatt & Scruggs TV shows which are being released by Shanachie Records in conjunction with the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Plans are underway for a series of events to commemorate Seckler's long and illustrious career.