Pardon my participle, but today's "Dulcimerica" episode is an opportunity to shine a friendly spotlight on Butch Ross.
When I came onto the dulcimer scene in 2006, Butch was one of my first teachers. I knew nothing about him but his class descriptions at Kentucky Music Week promised all sorts of the stuff that i wanted to explore. Butch nearly killed all of us with his arrangements of stuff like Eric Johnson's "Song For George" and also taught Robert Force's "Wellyn", which opened the door for a monumental meeting with the man later that summer. Butch kept the pedal to the metal for the duration, kind of like his live stage shows, and I left with a head full of ideas that sank deeply like fish hooks.
In time, I discovered that Butch and I were brothers from another mother; we both came from the smoky rock and roll club scene and had gotten into Americana later in life. Commonly, we shared an interest in folklore and edgy alternative music. We likewise enjoyed pushing the creative envelope and each had our own black wellspring of conflict that served as a bubbling undercurrent to our musical timeline. The enjoyment of a nice bourbon also rested, on a coaster, in the mix.
Over the years we've become good friends and have shared many an adventure on the road together, especially during carpool sessions in my 1991 Geo Metro LSi convertible, "Buster." We've traded MP3s, stories and riffs, had some truly outrageous stage time together and he was one of the A-listers that I hired for the inaugural Key West Dulcimer Fest. Butch's passion for the musical form, and complete disregard for convention, makes him an always-compelling watch. Though he's known widely for his exploits on the mountain dulcimer, he is also one hell of a guitarist; one of the best and most colorful rhythmic players you could ever hope to have back you up. Who else would've thought of laying Chicago's "Twenty-Five Or Six To Four" behind my version of "Cluck Old Hen"?
Butch has famously said that with our names, if we were ever at the same festival, nobody would ever get his name right again. Well, if he knew how often people called me "Butch", he might realize that he was definitely half-right. But when it comes to inspiration and innovation, Butch is all right and I'm happy and honored to have him as a friend. I'll leave you with this last video which features a whole lot of very cool people that I've come to know as friends over the years. At the finale is the famous tire blow-out down time that many viewers cite as one of their favorite moments from "Dulcimerica." Enjoy!