Chet Atkins & Jethro Burns: “Brother’s In Law”

Chet Atkins & Jethro Burns “Gallopin’ Guitar”/ “Blackbird”

Most of you here are going to know who Chet Atkins is and the impact he’s had on the guitar world.

But perhaps you haven’t heard of Jethro Burns?

Well, he’s one of the finest mandolinist that’s ever played the instrument. Back in the day, these hot pickers didn’t only know how to play fiddle tunes- they played real music with a lot of chord changes. The Western Swing style incorporated jazz… as Vassar Clements coined it “Hillbilly Jazz,” which is a form of jazz and/or big band done on stringed instruments.

In this video, Chet and Jethro team up together for a few songs that is bound to leave you spellbound!

Okay, here’s Jethro’s bio:

“Burns was born in Conasauga, Tennessee on March 10, 1920. His family moved toKnoxville, Tennessee when he was three. In 1936, he auditioned for a talent contest atKnoxville radio station WNOX where he met Henry Haynes, also 16. The two formed a duo and WNOX program director Lowell Blanchard gave them the stage names Homer and Jethro after forgetting their names on the air.

Burns was drafted into the US Army and served in Europe during World War II and reunited with Haynes, who had served in the Pacific, in Knoxville in 1945. By 1947, the duo moved to Cincinnati, Ohio and were working at WLW on the station’s Midwestern Hayride. They signed with King Records, where they worked as a house band and recorded singles on their own, and two years later signed with RCA Records. The pair were fired along with other stars by new management at WLW in 1948, and after a brief tour, they moved toSpringfield, Missouri and performed on KWTO with Chet Atkins, the Carter Family and Slim Wilson.[1]

In 1949, they moved to Chicago, Illinois and played at the Chicago Theatre. Between shows, they would go to WLS to appear live onNational Barn Dance. While performing on WLS, Burns met and married his wife, Lois Johnson, who he called Gussie. Her twin sister Leona was married to Atkins.

In 1959, they won a Grammy for the best comedy performance in 1959 for “The Battle of Kookamonga”, a parody of Johnny Horton’s “Battle of New Orleans”.

Burns was a highly-influential mandolin stylist, preferring clean single-note jazzy melodies and sophisticated chords over the dominantbluegrass stylings of Bill Monroe, and since he performed mostly in a country music setting, introduced many country mandolinists to sophisticated jazz harmonies and improvisational techniques, as well as standards from the songbooks of Duke Ellington, Django Reinhardt and Cole Porter.

By the 1970s, Burns’ influence had spread to a younger generation of bluegrass and “new-acoustic” musicians, most notably New Grass Revival mandolinist Sam Bush. His participation in Norman Blake/Tut Taylor/Sam Bush/Butch Robins/Vassar Clements/David Holland/Jethro Burns, an independently released album produced by promoter Hank Deane, was reportedly at Bush’s suggestion. During that same decade, Burns’ acquaintance with erstwhile bluegrass mandolinist David Grisman led to Burns’ writing a number of music/humor columns in the Grisman-published journal Mandolin World News. Grisman also produced a 1978 duet album on Kaleidoscope Records, Back to Back, featuring Burns and Western swing electric mandolinist Tiny Moore. Although Burns and Moore were approximately the same age and were among the few of their generation to make their reputations playing jazz and swing mandolin, the two had never met prior to the production of the album, its liner notes report. read more


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