Bluegrass is like breathing to me
Interview with Becky Buller,
fiddle player and songwriter.
© Lilly Drumeva-OReilly.
In November 2013, I had lunch with Becky
Buller in Nashville. She is a talented and stylish young lady, a great
songwriter and musician. Becky was dressed in elegant brown, which matched
her red hair. She wore turquoise earrings and necklace. While we chatted
I left the recorder running. Here is part of the conversation.
Hi Becky, you are a renowned songwriter, fiddle
player and what else?
Mom, radio DJ
Tell me more about the radio show?
When my husband and I started dating, he invited me on his radio show
on WMSR in Manchester, Tennessee. He has been doing it since 1999. He
co-hosted it with two other guys. It is an hour long program, on Saturday
morning. It is called "The bluegrass crossroad show". So,
he invited me to co-host one day and I liked it. I have been doing it
now for 7 years.
What's the name of your husband?
Jeff Haley and he is a musician. He plays in our church, guitar, banjo
and bass. We met through Valerie Smith, with whom I used to play. Her
husband Craig works actually with my husband.
Tell me about your daughter?
Her name is Romy, she is 8 months old. I named her after the movie "Romy
& Michelle's High School Reunion".
How did you start playing music?
My parents started to play bluegrass when I was really young. My dad
got interested in the mandolin. He took lessons from Dick Kimmel, who
came up to Minnesota. Mom and dad met in college, both playing guitar.
Later they formed a band called "Prairie grass". I was about
5 years old then and started to play the piano. When I turned 10, I
decided that I'd like to play fiddle. I wanted to sing also. They said
"In a bluegrass band, you can't just sing, you have to play an
instrument". I said "Ok, you guys don't have a fiddle in your
band. I'll try to learn it". I took violin lessons for 8 years
and played in an orchestra. After I finished high school I moved to
Tennessee and started to play bluegrass. I enrolled for the Bluegrass
program in East Tennessee State University.
Can you play vibrato?
Oh yes. I feel that I'm still working on it
I use vibrato also
in folk music.
Why do you like bluegrass music?
I don't know. I feel like it chose me. I've done it for so long, it
is like breathing to me. It is very organic and accessible. You don't
need electricity, you just open your case and play it. It is simple,
but it is also very complex. You have to be very good to improvise and
you have to be fast.
What is your vision? Is bluegrass music going
to grow or disappear?
I think it's very alive, thriving, and vibrant. There are purists who
feel that all bluegrass music should sound exactly like Bill Monroe,
Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs played it. We have to remember that these
guys were rebels in their time. They made musical magic; that's why
we have a bluegrass genre today! But their style doesn't speak to the
masses as it did back in the late 1940s and '50s. If music isn't growing,
it's dying. I welcome the new bands like Yonder Mountain, the Punch
Brothers, and the Infamous Stringdusters. They're taking their brand
of bluegrass-flavored music to audiences that might not have otherwise
given it a second listen. Folks who really get into what they're doing
will eventually travel the bluegrass space-time continuum all the way
back to Bill Monroe.
How did you become
I have been writing songs as long as I can remember. It started with
piano compositions. Ideas come from everything and anything.
Name some of the artists who have covered your
Ricky Skaggs, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Rhonda Vincent, Doyle Lawson,
Valerie Smith, Third Time Out, Special Consensus
Thanks Becky, lovely to meet you!