Roland White and Diane Bouska have been great Donelson neighbors for many years and they add to the diverse fabric of “Music City” in keeping the tradition of Bluegrass going strong.
Ask most anyone to name some of the most influential musicians in bluegrass, Roland White will certainly be among them. Roland has been performing for over 60 years and has made major contributions in the music, earning Grammy awards and honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) and Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPBGMA).
Originally from Maine, Roland’s family moved to southern California in 1955. Roland came from a large family of musicians. Roland started performing at a young age in Maine along with his younger brothers, Eric and Clarence. They founded the group, The Country Boys (later known as The Kentucky Colonels) and earned many accolades while touring across the country in the 1960’s during the folk music boom and their album, “Appalachian Swing”, is considered one of the most important albums in bluegrass. They even made appearances on The Andy Griffith Show.
Towards the end of the 1960’s, Roland had the great opportunity of being a guitarist for the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe. Roland considered Monroe a mentor and the influence of his style and feel became a big part of Roland’s music. After being in Bill Monroe’s band, Roland had another great opportunity of joining another legend in bluegrass, Lester Flatt. Roland played mandolin in Lester’s band, The Nashville Grass, from 1969 – 1973 and recorded several albums with them. Roland and his brothers got back together briefly in 1973 with The White Brothers but his brother Clarence died tragically. Roland later joined the group Country Gazette, playing guitar and mandolin with top bluegrass musicians of the time. He then went on to achieve great success as part of the Nashville Bluegrass Band in 1989, winning two Grammy Awards and Grammy nominations on all their albums. Roland and his wife Diane Bouska then went on to form The Roland White Band in 2000 and earned a Grammy nomination for their album “Jelly on My Tofu”.
Diane grew up listening to jazz as her father was a big fan and was friends with some of the leading jazz musicians in Kansas City. She recalls having famous jazz pianist Jay McShann over at the house playing on their piano. In college she started playing Scruggs-style banjo and then guitar. She and Roland have been married over 25-years and have been playing music together since then. They both teach and lead weeklong workshops as well, traveling several times a year all over the country and internationally. Diane has written and published instructional method book/CD sets teaching Roland’s mandolin style and his brother Clarence’s guitar style, which they sell retail and distribute to music stores. Roland also started the Annual Bill Monroe Appreciation Night in 1996 at The Station Inn and it has been going strong ever since.
The Station Inn has a legendary status as a venue in Nashville and is very special to musicians and fans alike. “There is no venue like The Station Inn in its importance to bluegrass music and bluegrass musicians”, says Diane. “It’s home to the best, and there is a genuine, close-knit community of musicians and friends and family that are connected through The Station Inn.” Roland and Diane have played a big role in supporting the venue and you can catch them playing there every couple of months. Be sure to follow them at www.rolandwhite.com to find when they will be there next.
- Last Thing On My Mind – (The New Kentucky Colonels)
- Same Old Blues Again – (Roland White)
- Powder Creek – (Roland White)
- Rose City Waltz – (Roland White)
- Jelly On My Tofu – (Roland White)
- Old Fashioned Love – (Roland White)
- On My Way Back to the Old Home – (written by Bill Monroe, performed by Roland White)
- Pike County Breakdown – (written by Earl Scruggs, performed by Roland White)