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Thread: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

  1. #1

    Default Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    I have been searching for this song entitled “Strawberry Point” by Bill Monroe for some time now. Does anyone have a recording, or really any kind of information about it? Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Kelley Mandolins Skip Kelley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    I’ve never heard of it but, I would like to hear it!

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    Never heard of that tune. There is some unrecorded stuff floating around out there. But this would be a new one on me. Where did you hear about it?

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”



    Purchase here or here.

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  6. #5

    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    Special Consensus did it in their Bill Monroe tribute album, and I have heard it several times on the forum here and elsewhere, but never any information on it.

  7. #6

    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    A Google search brought up some information.

    This is from the site of Colby Maddox who was a fiddler from Special Consensus about the history of the tune.

    “A tune I learned from Al Murphy who heard Bill Monroe compose it on the spot in Strawberry Point, Iowa. Very good for working up your bluegrass phrasing, and we will learn a few standard variations.”
    This is from Tom Ewing's book:
    Bill’s discomfort didn’t prevent him from writing new tunes, especially with a fiddler he trusted. During this time, he often wrote a new tune before every show, a way to confirm his creativity and a stunt that never failed to charm an audience. The tunes were usually named for the city he was playing in or a local landmark. (in Strawberry Point, Iowa he wrote “Strawberry Point” and in Hannibal, Missouri , Monroe City Breakdown for a nearby town. Varying widely in quality, they were always played with a promise to be recorded someday. Foster was adept at learning them. But remembering to play them effectively at mid-show was very stressful. Ewing recorded several with a portable tape recorder after shows but stopped when it appeared they would never be recorded.
    Bob Black's Come Hither to Go Yonder book talks about Bill's visit to the festival at Strawberry Point in a bit of detail but did not seem to mention the song though I may have missed it.

    It does not appear Bill recorded it. The Backbone Bluegrass Festival near Strawberry Point, Iowa which it was written for still goes on the third weekend in July except 2020 due to the corona virus.
    Last edited by CarlM; Nov-02-2020 at 2:47pm.

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    I wonder if Chris Henry or Mike Compton know of any recordings of Mr. Monroe playing it?

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    Purveyor of Sunshine sgarrity's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    This tune stumped the Monroe group on Facebook. Well, one member was familiar with it from this recording. You learn something new every day! Was unaware of the Roanoke album as well. Now I have a new album to listen to.
    Last edited by sgarrity; Nov-02-2020 at 8:10pm.

  11. #9

    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    Just to add a little more clarity and draw some connections. The name drew me to the thread because Strawberry Point is a town in Iowa about 60 miles north of where I live. There is a bluegrass festival at a farm just south of there every year in July officially called the Backbone Bluegrass Festival or unofficially as the Strawberry Point Festival to people in this part of the Midwest. It appears the tune was written for this festival when Monroe appeared there once in the mid 1980s.

    Special Consensus, being from Chicago, has appeared several times at this festival and has connections to the people putting it on. Bob Black, who had played banjo with Monroe and was close friends with Kenny Baker, lives in the area just southwest of Iowa City, about 80 miles from the festival. He is still regularly involved with teaching camps in connection with the festival and performs in the area. Bob, in his book, said he and his band played several dates as an opening act to Monroe around the time Monroe visited the festival in the late 1980s as he was doing a tour through Iowa and Missouri. Checking back in Bob's book he also mentions Monroe writing the tune as well as one called the Tall Corn State Breakdown at the time. Al Murphy, who Special Consensus fiddler Colby Maddox said he learned the tune from, is a prominent Iowa/Missouri fiddler, who lives in Iowa City and regularly performs with Bob Black. He said he heard the tune when Monroe wrote it. He is good enough to have picked it up on the spot or fairly quickly just by hearing it a few times.

    It would be cool if Bill recorded it. It sounds like it was just a throwaway written for the show. It was picked up by some local people who kept it going and taught it to Special Consensus. It helped that those local people had connections to Monroe and are high level musicians. Otherwise it would have been lost.

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    Thanks to CarlM for the details there. I don't have much more info than that, but I'll add that I'm good buddies with Al Murphy here in Iowa City. I learned Strawberry Point from him, and I'd say CarlM is right that Al is the one who caught this tune and kept it from being lost. Al has also been a pretty active field recorder throughout his life in music, but I don't think he got a recording of anyone playing Strawberry Point. I'll check with him, though.
    Marc

  14. #11

    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    That is very interesting! I was speculating with someone the other day that maybe it was just a tune passed down from person to person until someone on Special C got a hold of it, and that seems to have been a pretty accurate guess.

  15. #12

    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    Would you be willing to tab it out? I am very interested in learning it but the song is a little advanced for my ear skills right now.

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    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    Here's an update. I spoke to Al and Aleta Murphy about this one this morning to get the straight dope. As CarlM pointed out, Monroe wrote this one in the 80s in honor of Strawberry Point, IA. Al and Aleta's band Harvest Home (also including Bob Black on banjo) was playing several midwest shows with Monroe during the time. Al made a recording of Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys playing it live at Strawberry Point, with Billy Joe Foster on the fiddle. Monroe did not take a break on the tune, so there is likely no recording in existence of Monroe himself playing it.

    Al learned the tune from his home recording. Al was later a member of Special Consensus in the early 90s, and Special C recorded Strawberry Point on their 1991 album 'Hey Y'all' with Al Murphy on the fiddle. This recording doesn't appear to be available on Youtube or Spotify, but maybe I can figure out how to post it somewhere.
    Marc

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  18. #14

    Default Re: Bill Monroe’s “Strawberry Point”

    I contacted Colby Maddox and this is the information that he gave to me:

    “Al Murphy, fiddler for Special Consensus, heard Bill Monroe compose Strawberry Point backstage at a concert in Strawberry Point, Iowa. Monroe would sometimes be inspired to write tunes for places he had visited, but I have never heard a Monroe recording of this tune.

    Al taught the tune to the band and they recorded it on the Hey Y'All release. I decided to re-record it as a mandolin instrumental on the Our Little Town release.”

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