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Bluegrass is often viewed as an invention of the Appalachian
Formed when a group of top local musicians started a weekly jam session in 1987, NTB3 continues to play several venues and festivals throughout southern Indiana. While the band has included many notable musicians, award-winning banjo player Brian Lappin and virtuoso mandolinist Doug Harden have been at the band's creative core since its inception.
Doug Harden grew up near Bean Blossom. His great uncle Harlan played clawhammer banjo, which inspired Doug's brother to take up the banjo. After their father bought his oldest son an instrument, the rest of the five children protested. Before long, Doug's father took the whole family to a local music store... they left with two guitars, a mandolin, and an autoharp. Doug latched onto the mandolin and spent his early years playing and listening to local and touring musicians at the Bean Blossom Jamboree. Doug and his brothers, as well as his future brother-in-law, formed the Brown County Band, which played at the Jamboree as well as festivals all over the Midwest. Doug also performed alongside his father-in-law, bluegrass legend Bryant Wilson. In 1983, Doug helped form the popular Pine Mountain band, which toured extensively. It was with this band that he played the Grand Ol' Opry at the request of Bill Monroe. Doug continues to play music in and around Brown County where he grew up.
Unlike the other members of the band, Brian Lapin did not grow up in Indiana or around bluegrass. Instead, he came of age in the Sixties, listening to folk bands such as the Kingston Trio and the Limeliters. In high school he bought a tenor banjo and joined a folk trio, but soon he was introduced to the banjo music of Earl Scruggs and realized the potential of the instrument. He put a fivestring neck on his banjo and learned to play by listening to bluegrass albums. In 1968, he made his first trip to Bean Blossom, was "blown away" by the event, and became a regular attendee. He recalls, "Every year I would come to Bean Blossom from wherever I lived ... Bean Blossom is this kind of Mecca." One year, Brian won the banjo contest at Bean Blossom, which helped him earn a position playing with Earl Taylor. Brian went on to record with this bluegrass legend, as well as with Jimmy Martin. Eventually, Brian moved to Bloomington, Indiana, because of the college town's vibrant music scene and its proximity to Bean Blossom.
Bass player Greg Norman has played music since his youth. Since his father played country guitar and his mother taught piano in their home, music was all around him. He became hooked on bluegrass when his father took him to the Norman Conservation Club, which hosts a popular bluegrass jam. Before long, he became a fixture at the Conservation Club and on the region's bluegrass scene. In addition to being an excellent bass player, singer and musician, Greg has been an active mentor who continues to encourage younger musicians who come to jams. In fact, the two youngest members of the band acknowledge him as an early influence.
"I grew up with bluegrass in the family," muses Brady Stogdill, the youngest member of the band. "I heard it from the time that I was born." When he was ten years old, Brady thought he would trick his father into teaching him guitar so he could play rock music. However, after learning to switch between a few chords, his father took him to the jam at the Norman Conservation Club. It was there that he met Greg, who was playing guitar at the time. Brady studied Greg's hands and learned to play by ear. He soon became dedicated to playing bluegrass and forgot all about switching to rock and roll. He started playing at local stage shows and became friends with well-known fiddler Michael Cleveland. Brady and Michael both performed with the original International Bluegrass Music Association's Young Acoustic All Stars. Despite his age, Brady's guitar playing sounds like that of a more seasoned player, perhaps because his father Dean Stogdill taught him to play almost anything with strings on it.
A talented fiddler, singer and guitarist, Kent Todd was classically trained on the violin. But as the band likes to joke, "That doesn't seem to have impaired his fiddle playing much!" He met Brady at the Norman Conservation Club and thought, "Hey, there's another young guy that likes bluegrass." The two young musicians became friends and palled around at area music gatherings together. He learned his distinctive style from other regional players, such as Paul Goodpasture and Roger Banister, and today he is known for his strong, clear voice and eclectic breaks on the fiddle. Kent's version of the old ballad "Pretty Polly" is hauntingly beautiful.
As a whole, the band blends full vocal harmonies with artful instrumentation that reflects their roots in Indiana's bluegrass tradition. While each band member traces a different musical path, each also reflects the communal roots of bluegrass and Bill Monroe's Indiana legacy.
Jon Kay, Director
The American Folklife Center was created by Congress in 1976 and placed at the Library of Congress to "preserve and present American Folklife" through programs of research, documentation, archival preservation, reference service, live performance, exhibition, public programs, and training. The Center includes the American Folklife Center Archive of folk culture, which was established in 1928 and is now one of the largest collections of ethnographic material from the United States and around the world. Please visit our web site.
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