Birch Monroe

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Birch Monroe (May 16, 1901 – 1982) was a notable early bluegrass fiddler, bassist, founding member of the Monroe brothers, and older brother to Charlie and Bill Monroe. Birch and Charlie left the Monroe family farm in Rosine, Kentucky in the 1920s to work in the booming northern factories of the time. When Bill joined them in 1929 they were working in East Chicago at the Sinclair Oil refinery. There, the brothers played local venues and dances. Birch, with his brothers played on WAE in Hammond and also performed weekly on WJKS in Gary. In 1932, Birch, Charlie, and Bill, along with a friend, Larry Moore, were hired as exhibition square dancers for the national barn dance radio program, broadcast from Chicago. In 1934, Birch chose the stability of working at the refinery to support his sisters while Charlie and Bill went on to perform on KFNF in Shenandoah, Iowa.

Later performances[edit]

After the war, Birch had a few performances with Bill. He joined Bill in 1946 on a recording session in Chicago[citation needed]; a session that included Earl Scruggs. Birch sang bass on the gospel number "Wicked Path of Sin."[citation needed], and on "Just a Little Talk with Jesus" at a 1948 performance in the Grand Ole Opry.[1] Birch would play bass on tour with Bill after Howard Watts left the band. Birch Monroe was also manager, in the early 1960s, of Bill Monroe's country music park, the Brown County Jamboree, in Bean Blossom, Indiana. July 3, 1969, at the Smithsonian Festival of American Culture, Birch performed with Bill and Charlie.[2]


  • Rosenberg, Neil V. Bluegrass: a History. Urbana: University of Illinois, 2005. Print.
  • Smith, Richard D. Can't You Hear Me Callin': the Life of Bill Monroe, Father of Bluegrass. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2001. Print.