Fiddle Level Five
Jerusalem Ridge — Bill Monroe composed a very high percentage of the standard bluegrass fiddle tunes, and even though he did not play fiddle himself, he collaborated with whoever was playing fiddle for his Bluegrass Boys at any given time to hammer out a long list of the strongest tunes ever. His partner in this endeavor for a period spanning over two and an half decades was Kentucky native Kenny Baker, and “Jerusalem Ridge” was perhaps their most well-known piece. Named for the area outside Rosine, Kentucky where Monroe was born, it has become ubiquitous in the bluegrass world since it was first recorded on Monroe’s The Weary Traveler record in 1976 and then again on Kenny Baker’s Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe also in 1976. My version draws not only from listening to Baker play it many times but also from learning the tune from Monroe’s playing itself. Going back to Monroe’s original mandolin parts with any of his compositions always leads to the discovery of overlooked melodic gems that work great on the fiddle.