The Seldom Scene was established in 1971 in a basement in Bethesda, Maryland. The original line-up, our Founding Scene Fathers, was John Starling on guitar, Mike Auldridge on Dobro, Ben Eldridge on banjo, Tom Gray on double bass, and John Duffey on mandolin. Charlie Waller, a member of the Country Gentlemen, can be credited for the band's name... Expressing his doubt that this new band could succeed, Waller reportedly asked Duffey, "What are you going to call yourselves, the seldom seen?" The band performed weekly at the Red Fox Inn before getting a residency at the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, Virginia. The rest is history.
The progressive bluegrass style played by the Seldom Scene had become increasingly popular during the 1970s. Their weekly shows included bluegrass versions of country music, rock, and pop. The band's popularity soon forced them to play more than once a week —but they continued to maintain their image as being seldom seen, and on several of their early album covers were photographed with the stage lights on only their feet, or with their backs to the camera. Though the Scene remained a non-touring band, they were prolific recorders, producing seven albums in their first five years of existence, including one live album (among the first live bluegrass albums).
Since forming, the band has gone through numerous lineup changes. The last big shakeup happened in 1995, when Duffey and Eldridge, the two remaining original members, recruited dobro player Fred Travers, bassist Ronnie Simpkins, and guitarist Dudley Connell to join the band. Mandolinist Lou Reid returned the following year and in 2017 Ron Stewart joined as the new banjo player. The current band has been together the longest in Seldom Scene history, and for good reason... With an inventive take on bluegrass, the Seldom Scene has displayed both their original material and their interpretations of songs from limitless genres.
Long live the Seldom Scene.
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