Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The end of the Bluegrass world as we know it

I heard some news this morning that, while apparently a couple of days old, is still shocking. Aaron Harris reported in a post at his blog that Mike Bub, the bass player who has been with The Del McCoury Band for 13 years, left the band earlier this week. When I read the story at Aaron's site, I was in shock and disbelief. I followed the story over to Del's site, where Bub posted the confirmation on the bulletin boards there himself. Ever the class act, Mike used the occasion to thank fans for their support over the years, and to tell everyone that both he and the band would be just fine, and he even encouraged people to continue to support the band.

What was clear from Mike's post, however, was that there was some sort of disagreement between Del (or Ronnie, or Rob, or some combination thereof), and Mike. Whatever they disagreed about, it must have been a very big deal, because Mike makes it clear that at the beginning of the week, he could not have imagined he'd not be playing for Del anymore, and he didn't want that to happen. Considering that Mike Bub has promoted the band without fail for the last 13 years (and Del knows this), his ability and affiable nature was hardly the reason for his sudden departure.

I can't say that I have had a lengthy conversation with Mike Bub, but I have met him on several occasions. I am even told that on one occasion, he inquired as to my whereabouts when I was not at a show with Aaron, as for a long period of time, Aaron would not be seen at a Del show (or any other Bluegrass show for that matter) without me being with him. Mike Bub is one of the friendliest, most outgoing musicians I have ever met, and he truly loves the fans who love him. That says a lot in a musical field that is already known for fan-friendliness and outgoing, personable stars. He is also perhaps the most talented bassist in Bluegrass today, perhaps only equaled by the abilities of Marshall Wilborn.

Knowing that Del and the boys have lost such a tremendous asset in Mike Bub, it does beg the question: Who can replace Bub? I don't think the band will ever sound the same without Mike Bub...That's not to say that they are going to sound bad, or get worse, because I just don't think that could ever happen, but I do think that they will begin to sound different, beginning with the album after their latest, The Company We Keep. I hope the new bass player is half as good as Bub. Most of all, I hope Mike Bub finds a gig within the week (or whenever he wants one), because someone should be falling all over themselves to play with one of the greats.

Mike Bub: One of the great Bluegrass bass players is leaving his long-time home with The Del McCoury Band. We don't know why Mike had to suddenly "part ways" with Del and company, but we do know that he won't go long without a gig. Whoever replaces Mike will have huge shoes to fill.
(Photo: from Bluegrass Journey)


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