Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ronnie Reno's Trip to Glenville State

On Oct. the 20th I was invited to come to Glenville WV and pick and sing with the Glenville State Bluegrass Band. It was part of their homecoming and I was honored to get to perform with them. They have a great program at the college, which is one of the few schools that have a Major in Bluegrass Music. I have asked one of the great young players in the band, Megan Murphy to give our newsletter readers an insight on how she feels about the music and how she thought the night went.

Here's her story:

My name is Megan Murphy and I am a senior at Glenville State College, West Virginia. In 2006 I came to Glenville State College specifically for the Bluegrass Certification, along with majoring in Early and Elementary Education. As part of the bluegrass program, I was required to take a variety of courses such as recording and engineering to the more in depth end of business and marketing. Besides being part of the band, I also took part in hourly lessons on each instrument with our instructor, Buddy Griffin.
Director of Bluegrass Music, Buddy Griffin is not only our professor, but a living role model for those of us in this bluegrass program. Buddy was born in Summersville West Virginia and is also a Glenville State College graduate. Many folks have known him because of his great reputation of fiddling with the famous Jim and Jesse, and of course many more legends. Perhaps the “down to earth” personality that he shows is why he means so much to us and the community. Although he keeps quiet about his fame, we all realize the significant part he has played in bluegrass music.
In my short time here I have experienced a lot because the program has so much more to offer than other colleges. It is truly special to have musicians that many young folks look up to such as Ronnie Reno, Mike Compton and Jesse McReynolds to spend time with each of us. The GSC bluegrass band has also had many opportunities such as taking part in the famous “Midnight Jamboree,” various radio shows and even at one point appeared on “WSM TV”. Many students would never get these opportunities anywhere else. Not to mention that in 2007 Buddy announced at IBMA that we are the only four-year Bachelor of Arts Degree in Bluegrass Music in existence!
This month the legendary Ronnie Reno visited our college campus and starred in our annual bluegrass concert. The community and student body were all invited to take part in the performance. The GSC bluegrass band kicked off the show with strictly traditional bluegrass tunes followed by a unique showcase and interview of Ronnie Reno’s life as a bluegrass musician. Of course Ronnie wrapped the show up great by offering to what some of the band members may consider a “once in a lifetime opportunity”. That was to share the stage with him. At least I personally valued the pickin’ and grinnin’ time!
I was literally raised on bluegrass music. As my dad says, “bluegrass is in her blood!” My mom and dad took me to my first bluegrass festival when I was only four months old. At age five my parents bought me my first fiddle and my dad spent hours and hours with me on the front porch teaching me to scratch out tunes like “Old Joe Clark” and “Faded Love.” Now I spend most of my time concentrating on what I love best, and that is the mandolin. My family and I have our own traditional bluegrass band called “Megan Murphy and Yankee Bluegrass”. Thanks to Buddy, we just cut our first CD, here at the college this past year. Although I learned that it was not an easy process, I have enjoyed every minute of the studio time!
Growing up, I quickly realized that I was one of very few children who enjoyed and played this type of music. Because I have not had many opportunities to play this music with folks of my own age, I guess that is a major reason Glenville State College was my college choice.
Sometimes I think about how important the music is to me. I realize when I think about it that bluegrass is not only my passion, but my foundation, support, happiness and family. The music makes me happy, and to be able to share it with others is an amazing opportunity. It keeps my family close and I consider it a blessing to share the stage with my parents, the college band, as well as all of the new and interesting people I meet at bluegrass festivals. Besides being such a significant part of my family, the few dollars I make on the side helps support me in college!
I specifically chose Glenville State College because of its bluegrass program even though it is more expensive for me as an out-of-state student. Bluegrass is my family, my livelihood, and my life and I feel that the opportunity to share it with young people by attaining my early education degree is truly special.
Because of my experience here at Glenville State College, not the least of which was our recent performance with Ronnie Reno, I know I can move forward into my lifetime career in Bluegrass music with greater insight and much more confidence. Thanks to all the professionals who have helped me and other young folks like me to attain our goals and a lifetime of enjoyment in Bluegrass music.
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