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Tombstone Junction

This is one of Bill Monroe's more difficult instrumentals. Basically a twelve-bar blues in the key of G, it is played briskly (i.e. fast!) and gets quite twisty in places, with demands on both the left hand and the right.

Bill never recorded Tombstone Junction on disc, but he played it for the instruction video (now DVD) which Homespun put out in 1992. Bill comments on the video, "There's a little town up in Kentucky there named Tombstone Junction... There's some lady come to our show and she's from that country up there, and I thought, well that would give me a good name for an instrumental number."

Unfortunately Tombstone Junction is not one of the tunes which was tabbed or analysed by Sam Bush in the companion Homespun video/DVD. The tab below is my best attempt at a more recently released recording of Bill playing Tombstone Junction at a 'live' performance in 1990. The track is on a fine double CD released by Rural Rhythm, entitled Bill Monroe Live, Volume One. These 1990 recordings, made at shows when Bill was in his 79th year, are remarkable for the power and ingenuity of his mandolin playing, as well as the overall high quality, variety and excitement of the performances. The CD is definitely a recommended purchase!

I've also seen Lyle Meador play a mean version of Tombstone Junction with the Karl Shiflett band on television. This guy is a really powerful player and a great Monroe stylist. His version of Tombstone Junction is very similar to Bill's.

Good luck with this tune - it's a toughie to play well! If you need some diversion after a hard practice session, you can read about Tombstone Junction KY and see some nice old railroad pics here.


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