A dobro player's voice - Mike Auldridge

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Dave Falk's picture

All, yesterday I was listening to the Mike Auldridge Dobro/Blues and Bluegrass CDs that were recorded in 1972 and 1974. It is my understanding that Mike started playing dobro in high school. I don't know the timeline of how long he played before these cds and joining Seldom Scene in 1971.

But what really got me was his sound and tone in what I call his 'voice' from these early cd's to the last cd 'Three Bells'. I know he played better dobro's through the years but to my ears, his 'voice' never altered.

When do you think a dobro player gets or develops what I call his dobro 'Voice'?


hlpdobro's picture

Recently John Starling said (and I paraphrase) "Mike Auldridge didn't become Mike Auldridge until "Act III" (Scene album).

I thought that was an interesting observation/opinion.



Howard Parker

hlpdobro "at" gmail.com

hlpdobro's picture

Oh..I'm pretty sure Mike played guitar & banjo early on. There's a photo at the Beard shop of the South Mountain Boys, Mike's first real band. He was the banjo player. His friend (and mine) Gene Krause (sp?) was on dobro.

-edit- I also have Mike's recordings when he was with Emerson & Waldron and then Cliff Waldron. We're talking late 60's. He was much more "Josh Graves" like in his styling but you could hear the difference in the phrasing and the way he attacked the guitar.


I'll be over at the Auldridges in a few weeks. If I remember to ask about his first dobro, I will!




MarkinSonoma's picture

That is an interesting observation from Dr. Starling since Act III chronologically came out later, in 1973 and Dobro was released in '72.

I know for hundreds or even  thousands of us, that "voice" was heard loud and clear in the first listening to Dobro.  Those opening licks to "Tennessee Stud" pretty much changed my life. Still gets me in the gut every time I listen to it. 

I guess more information is needed from John to get the gist of his comment. I did read a comment that Ben Eldridge made, something to the effect that Mike was a very good dobro player but he hadn't really evolved yet on Act I and that it took a couple years beyond that. 

It's not rare or unusual when gifted and talented younger musicians get into the right situation (or "Scene") and there is this explosion of creativity in a relatively short period of time because the scenario enables it. Think of the rapid evolution of The Beatles, in just a few years going from "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" to the likes of "Eleanor Rigby"  and Brian Wilson  taking the Beach Boys from something like "Little Deuce Coupe" to "Good Vibrations" in just a few years as well. 

In those early '70s years when Mike really went for it, he started firing on all cylinders. And maybe the story he would tell about how he tried so hard when he was younger to sound like Josh Graves, and when Josh complimented him on the sound he was creating as Mike, he had the realization that he'd never sound like Josh and  his own style was sounding pretty darn good -  it really started to take hold.

hlpdobro's picture

Spot on Mark!

I'm trying to recollect a story that Mike told me about his first "real" dobro. I want to fact check with Elise Auldridge first to get her recollection and pin down the timing.

More later!  Cool


Heff's picture

Mike always told me and probably you too Howard that he was always afraid that the other musicians would find out that he didn't know what he was doing. He never accepted that what he was doing was changing peoples lives.

The first phrase in Tennessee Stud changed my life too Mark. I never would have been a Dobro player without hearing that sound.

Homer Blethy's picture

No Mike, no modern dobro sound.



Homer Blethy

About 11 miles from Terre Haute, Indiana, near the town of Toadhop on the Illinois side of the Wabash,..totally decrepit and adapting to the brave new world one step at a time. Please absolve me of my indignations perpretrated in hindsight by lack of foresight.

Always receptive to change...

hlpdobro's picture


Long time no see!

Yes, Mike floored me once by asking if I thought what he was doing was "important".

I was pretty stunned by the question. He had his moments. Laughing




Alan Rausch's picture

Back to what Mark said about developing with the right mixture of band mates.  What if Mike and the Scene had not been the progressive band of the day, would Mike have stayed with the Josh sound if he continued in a more traditional band?  Most recognize the Scene as being the right combination, maybe a once in a lifetime combination.  Regardless we can definately say what he did was IMPORTANT.  Then have players come to the basement and hear him say "this is how I play".  Now I am going to back and chronologically listen to The Acts.

hlpdobro's picture

The Waldron bands were not traditional by the standards of that time. First to record "Fox On The Run", "Silver Wings", etc.

In my mind I think Mike's style would have certainly evolved into...something.

Yep, the Scene were a magic combination (still are). Loved their recordings and cherish the memories of their early live shows, which were very "not traditional" with Duffey doing most of the MC work. You could never tell what might come out of his mouth. Playing with the right combination of folks can certainly stir those creative juices. Mike was the "right" guy in the right place at the right time!

I could go on (and on...)




MarkinSonoma's picture

And you could never tell what type of pants would show up on Duffey for the occasion. Cool

With Mike you always knew. 

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