Bob Fowler

Bluegrass Guitar Bill Monroe

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Monroe, Bill - Bluegrass 1970-1979 CD Cover Art


Personnel: Bill Monroe (tenor, mandolin); Jim McReynolds (vocals, tenor, guitar); James Monroe , Lester Flatt (vocals, guitar); Jesse McReynolds (vocals, mandolin); Fowler, J.D. Martin, Lewis (vocals); Kenny Ingram (baritone, banjo); Davis , Jordan, Hicks (baritone); Culley Holt, Martin (bass voice); Gordon Terry, Joe Stuart (guitar, fiddle); Curly Seckler, Wayne Lewis , Robert "Bob" Fowler, Jimmy Martin (guitar); Charles M. "Charlie" Nixon (dobro); Jack Hicks, Robert Wilson Black, Earl Snead, Haskell D. McCormick, Victor H. Jordan, Bill Holden, Alan O'Bryant, Marc Pruett, Carl Jackson (banjo); Marty Stuart (mandolin); Clarence "Tater" Tate, Joe Meadows, Curley Ray Cline, Tommy Williams Jr., Hubert Duane "Hoot" Hester, Paul Mullins, James Bryan , Jim Brock, Joe Hayes, Kenny Baker , Randall Collins, Tex Logan, Blaine Sprouse, Buddy Spicher (fiddle); Ray W. Martin (electric bass); Walter Haynes (bells).

Ingrid Fowler
Bluegrass Says goodbye to One of It's Own
This article was printed as received. iBluegrass is not responsible for its content.
By Barry Brower
A friend called last night to give the sad news on the passing of Ingrid Fowler. In the past year I posted a story about the early-70s San Francisco bluegrass scene. This included information about Ingrid which I had hoped to re-post it as a tribute to her. However, it's difficult finding that post so I've decided to rewrite it in hopes that others may connect with some of the things I have to say about this wonderful person and her place in the bluegrass world:
I first discovered bluegrass one night on Union Street in San Francisco, at a place called the "Drinking Gourd." I went in there occasionally to see what was happening and, on this particular evening, was captivated by a band called the "Styx River Ferry." It was a group fronted by a husband and wife team, Bob and Ingrid Fowler. Bob played guitar, sang lead, emceed. Ingrid was the fiddler and provided mostly harmonies. Gene Tortora was the Dobro player, Robbie MacDonald played banjo, and Mark Brooks, the bassist. Bob, lanky and dark-haired, with a broad, angular southern face, had a way with country material in bluegrass. His somewhat stooped stage presence reminded me a bit of Hank Williams. It was not surprising, therefore, to learn that he originally came from Montgomery, Alabama -- Hank's home. His wife, medium-height, blonde, pony-tailed, cute, and outgoing was the daughter of legendary band leader Woody Herman.
It was fun stuff they were playing and I remember turning to a bearded young man sitting next to me, who seemed to know the group, and asked him about the music. "It's called bluegrass," he said in a deep southern accent. "Bluegrass?" "Yes," he said, "it's a music that was started by a fellow named Bill Monroe." "Oh? Who's he?" Little did I know what a life-changing turn of events for me the subsequent discussion would engender. The young man's name was Ned Geary, and he had come to San Francisco from Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was an excellent mandolin player and lover of the Stanley Brothers music. He told me of other San Francisco Bluegrass groups: High Country; Phantoms of the 'Opry; Vern & Ray; Hired Hands; the Caffrey Family. And, did I know, Ralph Stanley would be playing in Berkeley in a few weeks? "You'd better go see that," he said, "you'll not regret it." I didn't.
Sadly, I never got to know Ned Geary very well; he died in an automobile accident a few years later.
I had been a fan of Rock & Roll and had purchased a couple of hundred records. Within two weeks of hearing my first bluegrass group I was down at Tam Junction in Mill Valley, by the side of the road hawking every last one of these records for a buck a piece. I used that money to purchase my first guitar, an affordable Guild D-50 which had been recommended to me by Chris Boutwell of High Country.
I soon learned that much of the San Francisco bluegrass scene revolved around jam sessions at the Fowler's home on Shell Road in Mill Valley. It was a large, two story home, and there were other musicians living with them including Gene and Karen (Walter) Tortora; Ed Dye; Ned Geary; possibly Robbie MacDonald among them, if memory serves me correctly. Bob and Ingrid were playing several nights a week at Paul's Saloon, along with other groups (there were some nights I sat in there at the only occupied table), and at other gigs around the city -- The Drinking Gourd; Mooney's Irish Pub; and other places I have forgotten.
Often these late night gigs would be followed by a gathering at the Fowler's place and would last until sunrise. Bob & Ingrid would sleep most of the day, have dinner, and then head off to another job.
One weekend the Earl Scruggs Revue was scheduled to play a couple of nights at a concert venue in the city. Bob, Steve Young, and I decided to go. Bob was a friend of Uncle Josh Graves and after the show we went backstage to see him. It turned out that Earl needed a ride back to the Sir Francis Drake hotel so we provided that for him. I was sitting in the back seat with Earl. Bob had invited all the Revue (Vassar Clements; Josh; Jody Maphis; Randy Scruggs; Gary Scruggs; and Earl) over to his place for one of his late night jams. At one point Earl leaned forward, and in that wonderful slow drawl of his said, "Bob, I wish I could make it to your jam tonight but, you know, I've been having problems with my back and I need to rest. But, if you're a-goin' to have it again tomorrow night I was a-wonderin' if you would mind if I came?" Three jaws dropped simultaneously and I jokingly thought to myself, 'Bob, tell him, thanks anyway, but we've already got ourselves a banjo picker.'
And Earl Scruggs did show up for that jam the following night. And so did the rest of the band and Dan Crary, who was in town for some reason, and bunches of other great pickers. Earl chose to play guitar for much of the evening and it was some kind of delight to this fledgling picker to be a part of that.
And so, many fine evenings of music came to pass at 50 Shell Road. About 1972 Bob and Ingrid moved to Nashville along with many other fine Bay Area musicians: Pat Enright; John Hedgecoth; Marty Lanham; Bruce Nemerov; Lonnie Feiner; Ed Dye and others I have probably forgotten. In the summer of 1973 I came to visit the Fowlers. Bob had secured a job with Bill Monroe that only lasted about six months: "I fired the mandolin player" was Bob's response when I asked him why he left the band. Ingrid and Bob had helped to open the Station Inn and she had landed a position in a band playing out at the recently opened Opryland. One night the three of us went down to the Station Inn to hear Hubert Davis and the Season Travelers.
Ingrid was a great person -- full of life and friendly to everyone. She was like a second mom to many pickers, who always were welcome for conversation, a meal, or a place to stay. Just come on in and make yourself at home, and pick up that instrument and play us a tune while you're at it. She encouraged everyone. And she always had a good word for others (I remember her telling me how much she liked, as people, the Buck White family). Salt of the earth.
She loved bluegrass. When we were driving around Nashville one day she said to me, "When it is played right bluegrass is the most beautiful music in the world." This coming from the mouth of the daughter of a famous jazz musician. It is probably the last conversation I had with Ingrid as our lives went separate ways after I left Nashville. But those prophetic words have stuck with me and remain a fitting tribute to her.


Subscribe to Newsletter

Rick Carter Radio - All Alabama Music

Accepting submissions and adding them daily. Artists can send their songs in MP3's to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. One song per email. Graphics and song and artist info should be included of course.

This space
for rent!

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.