This piece is a contribution from Niall Toner, a songwriter, mandolinist, and bandleader who lives in the Blackstairs Mountains in County Carlow. Niall will be recording a new album for Pinecastle Records in Nashville in May and touring the US.
I believe it’s an accident of Fate with regard to how we acquire and frame our indivual tastes in food, art, sports or music, and I have always thought of my own introduction to the music of Bill Monroe, when I was about twelve years of age, to be pure good fortune. After all, it was in the early 60s, and I was growing up in Dublin in Ireland, and we were being bombarded from all sides with the pop and rock music from Radio Luxemborg and BBC Radio, as well as the ever-present Irish traditional music and song, the latter being very-much a part of the School Curriculum. Into this mix came a young friend of mine, Fran O’Donnell, and he was the proud owner of a substantial collection of classic country music, including folks like Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, and when he played Bill Monroe for me, I was hooked.