The Seldom Scene is a Bluegrass band formed in 1971 in Bethesda, Maryland. Three of the Seldom Scene members were former members of the Country Gentlemen. The group hit hard in Bluegrass-world when they released their debut album ‘‘ Act I’’ in 1972. A lot happened for the band in 1972. The Seldom Scene would play their first Bluegrass Folk Festival at the American Legion Country Music Park in Culpeper, Virginia, organized by Jim Clark (1). Seldom Scene mandolin player John Duffey had a chat at this festival with Carlton Haney and head of Rebel Records Dick Freeland (2). Jim’s festival at that time and drew a lot of visitors and was popular among youngsters. Muleskinner New reported that ‘’Jim proved the success of Blue Grass Music’s appeal to the youth audience; approximately 75 percent of the crowed was between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five (1)’’. Drawing that kind of audience was rare for that time. Member of the Seldom Scene were:
- John Starling – Guitar
- John Duffey – Mandolin
- Ben Eldridge – Banjo
- Mike Auldridge – Dobro
- Tom Gray – Bass
The Seldom Scene played all kinds of different shows and venues. This picture of the Seldom Scene is not tied to a particular Bluegrass festival. The picture was taken in 1972 at The National Parks Centennial that took place that year (3). The Seldom Scene performed for the United States the Department of Interior in 1972 on March 19 as part of the Centennial celebration (4). There are wo rare things about this photograph. One is that the band is wearing a uniform, what they only did this for a small amount of time in 1972. The Seldom Scene would start wear more casual clothing because they were more seen as a progressive Bluegrass group during that time. (5) Wearing more informal outfits on stage was part of being a progressive Bluegrass band. Tom says ‘‘We’re all in dressed in that band uniform. We gave up on that within our first year (4).’’ Another rare aspect of this photograph is the mandolin John Duffey is playing. It is a so called ‘’Duck’’ mandolin build by himself, he didn’t play this Mandolin for long.
This photograph was found in the Leon McIntyre collection from the Archives of Appalachia:
at the East Tennessee State University (6). It is unknown who added speech balloons and names to the picture and why the person did that, it might have been something they said on stage during their performance. The Seldom Scene exists out of humorous bandmembers, perhaps this drew humorous audiences!
(1) Bluegrass: a History, Neil V. Rosenberg, University of Illinois Press, 2005 p. 298, 299
(2) Photo by Carl Fleischhauer. Dick Freeland, John Duffey and Carlton Haney in Culpeper, Virginia, June 10, 1972. http://www.bluegrassmuseum.org/carlton-haney/
(3) Eldridge, Ben. ‘‘Research question (Photograph).’’ Owen Schinkel. 03-24-2018. Email.
(4) Gray, Tom. ‘‘Picture Scene 1972.’’ Owen Schinkel. 03-27-2018. Email.
(5) Seldom Scene at Berkshire Mountains Festival in Ancramdale, New York, 1970’s. http://www.bluegrassmuseum.org/tom-gray/
(6) ETSU Archives of Appalachia Leon McIntyre Collection, Box 19, Folder