(January 15, 1938—August 24, 2017)
By Richard Spottswood 

Following a lengthy illness, one of the most remarkable and productive lives in the history of our special music came to an end when Peter Van Kuykendall (January 15, 1938—August 24, 2017) died in his sleep of natural causes at the Amerisist Assisted Living in Warrenton, Va. It’s no exaggeration to say that without him, today’s thriving bluegrass scene would look and sound a lot different. There are few aspects of the music, including its history, culture, business, broad reach, and its beauty, that Pete hasn’t played a decisive role in shaping, and he dedicated his long, productive life to seeing it grow and thrive. Over time, his influence has extended to the way bluegrass sounds and to how we hear it.

He was one of a remarkable set of music people from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area that were involved with tradition-based country music in the early to mid-’50s. The list includes the Stoneman Family, Sally and Tom Gray, Peggy and Mike Seeger, Buck Ryan, Bill Offenbacher, Lamar, Frances and David Grier, Hazel Dickens, Jeremy Foster, Curly Smith, Eddie Adcock, John Kaparakis, Bill Harrell, Buzz and Wayne Busby, Jerry Gray, Francis Tinsman, Lucky Saylor, John Fahey, Don Mulkey, John Hall, Tom Morgan, Ed Ferris, Johnny Whisnant, Roy Clark, Al Sellers, Dave Swann, Jack Tottle, Bill Blackburn, Smiley Hobbs, Smitty Irvin, Porter Church, Tom Knowles, Gary Henderson, Tom Paley, Don and Kevin Owens, Sonny Johnson, Buddy Davis, Vance Trull, Don Stover, Alice Gerrard, Red Shipley, John Duffey, Bill Poffinberger, Ernest Ferguson, Joan Shagan, Garland Alderman, Don Bryant, Lola and Bill Emerson, Mike Kelley, Roy Self, Charlie Waller, Wayne and Bill Yates, Pete Pike, Joe Bussard, Paul Champion, John and Bill Garay, Dave and Mike Auldridge, Ben Eldridge, Charlie Smith, Benny and Vallie Cain, Carl Nelson, Russ Hooper, Tom “Tomcat” Reeder, Lucky Chapman, and more names I’ll no doubt remember after this goes to press. If you liked old-time country music sixty-plus years ago, the Washington area was a good place to be. Read entire article »

Peter V. Kuykendall
By Richard K. Spottswood

Remembrances Of Pete Kuykendall — Ten Vignettes From Fifty Years Of Working Together
By Walt Saunders

The Bluegrass World Remembers The Life And Times, The Heart, And The Historical Significance Of Pete Kuykendall
By Derek Halsey

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October 2017 Reviews


FRONT COUNTRY OTHER LOVE SONGS Organic Records OR16882 With a foundation in traditional music, Front Country has advanced its music skillfully with something they dub “roots pop.” The quintet—Adam Roszkiewicz (mandolin, banjo, vocals), Jacob Groopman (guitar, reso-guitar, mandolin, vocals) Jeremy Darrow (bass), Leif Karlstrom (five-string violin), and Melody Walker (vocals, guitar, percussion)—developed part of its […]

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RALPH STANLEY II & THE CLINCH MOUNTAIN BOYS Stanley Family Records No Number With the passing of Ralph Stanley in 2016, the band name and legacy of the Stanley sound has been handed to Ralph II. That’s a tall order. Adhering to a legendary sound while being yourself musically is not easy. Obviously, Ralph II […]

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DEAR BROTHER THE HOURS No Label No Number Dear Brother delivers a largely traditional sound with progressive influences on their promising debut The Hours. They packed the album with nine solid originals by fiddler John Duncan and guitarist and lead singer Evan Swink. The title track is as good a newly composed neo-traditional song as […]

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DOYLE LAWSON & QUICKSILVER LIFE IS A STORY Mountain Home MH17012 After nearly four decades (going back to 1979 when he formed Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver following stints with Jimmy Martin, J.D. Crowe, and the Country Gentlemen) and 40 albums, the ever-prolific Doyle Lawson has sure figured out how to get the job done. His […]

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JIMMY GAUDREAU AND ELLE MEARS GIVE US STRENGTH Songside Records SR-1701 Bluegrass bands (as do fans of the music, myself included) love to wallow in good old-fashioned weepers and troubled tales of all sorts. That’s what makes this album from Jimmy Gaudreau and Elle Mears a bit different. Call it a positive message album. Quite […]

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MAN ABOUT A HORSE No Label 191061550655 Whoa, mule, whoa. “High energy” is an understatement and Man About A Horse is a self-titled debut album that requires dancing or foot-tapping or some kind of movement. What it is is hard to describe other than to say it’s good music. That ought to be enough. The […]

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JOE FILI OLD HARMONY ROAD No Label No Number Fili is a fiddle repairman in New Jersey. He has gathered a group of solid musicians around him to present this program of well-known tunes peppered with originals. Carl Baron handles the banjo parts with skill, while Travis Wetzel’s mandolin and fiddle add a depth to […]

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SCROGGINS & ROSE GRANA No Label No Number This review is simple. If you are at all a fan of the duo albums by Mike Marshall and Darol Anger or early Dawg music or maybe the glorious guitar duet CDs of Critter Eldridge and Julian Lage, you must hear Grana by mandolin phenom Tristan Scroggins […]

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CEDAR HILL BY REQUEST: A 50 YEAR TRADITION, VOLUME 1 Nickeltown Records NR170515 First off, fans of Cedar Hill may be put out when they pick up their copy of By Request: A 50 Year Tradition, Volume 1. That’s because after half a century, everyone’s favorite songs are not going to be on the album. […]

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EDDIE ADCOCK VINTAGE BANJO JAM  Patuxent Music CD-300    Of the great innovators and masters of five-string banjo, Eddie Adcock may be the most underappreciated. If for no other reason, Vintage Banjo Jam may be the most significant all-instrumental album in a long time. Listening widely, musically restless, and influenced by finger-style guitar playing, Adcock was […]

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