Teaching the Art of the Bluegrass Jam: Pete Wernick

What connects you to the year 1946? Think of the time immediately following World War II, and perhaps black and white images of men in fedoras and women in long dresses come to mind. Maybe you have parents or grandparents who were born around that time, or maybe you know someone who lived then and has past on. It is an era that now seems quite distant for most of us, a kind of abstraction that can be read about but which remains present only in its dusty tomes and mono records. But like all eras of our past, the time when bluegrass music was born remains with us in tangible, even impactful ways. In 1946, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys recorded their first songs with new members Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, and a new genre of music was born. Born that same year in New York City was Pete Wernick, who came to know all of the Blue Grass Boys as well as most if not all of the other first-generation stars, and played with many of them eventually as well. He remains one of the few people today who embodies a direct link to this era, making it leap from the pages of history across the decades and get us tapping our feet to bluegrass music that is still being born.

Pete Wernick

Songs heard in this episode:

“Waiting For Daylight” by Pete Wernick & Flexigrass, from What The

“Powwow the Indian Boy” by Hot Rize, from Hot Rize, excerpt

“Untold Stories” by Hot Rize, from Untold Stories, excerpt

“Spring Break” by Pete Wernick, from On A Roll

Thank you for visiting us and giving this podcast a listen! This series is a part of the lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. Thanks to everyone at IBMA for their role in making this episode possible, and you can listen to more episodes on this series on artists interviewed at previous IBMA conferences, like Sierra Hull, Bela Fleck, Stephen Mougin and Ben Wright (Sam Bush Band and Henhouse Prowlers respectively), and C.J. Lewandowski (Po’ Ramblin’ Boys), to name a few. Thanks to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on public radio WNCW, and to Joshua Meng, who wrote and performed our theme songs.

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This is Southern Songs and Stories: the music of the South and the artists who make it. – Joe Kendrick