Nashville, TN—In the wake of winning Album of the Year at the IBMA awards, Balsam Range’s banjo player Marc Pruett paused at a table backstage which held the plaques for Hall of Fame inductees Tony Rice and Paul Warren. Gently touching the plaque for Warren, Pruett was overhead saying simply, “Aw, I miss him. He was my friend.”
Much has been written about that amazing night when Tony Rice shared his voice for the first time in years. Now, Marc Pruett takes a moment to reflect upon the treasured memory of the Hall of Fame’s other new inductee, Marc’s friend, Paul Warren.
Pruett first met the beloved fiddle player at a Flatt and Scruggs concert in 1964 in Asheville, NC: “I bought a Flatt and Scruggs songbook from him,” says Pruett. Around 1973 Pruett started working and traveling with Bill Monroe’s son James Monroe. “That’s when we started to be close,” remembers Pruett, “We played a lot of the same festivals as Flatt and Scruggs so I got to hang out with Paul and pick with him quite a bit.”
The first time Pruett had the chance to pick with Warren was in Lexington, Kentucky.
“All the bands stayed in the same hotel. I was rooming with Randall Collins who was James Monroe’s fiddler at the time. Paul came by our room one night to visit and I saw Randall’s fiddle lying on the bed and I thought, there’s a fiddle, there’s my banjo in the corner, and there’s Paul Warren. I can’t pass this up,” Pruett recalls. They played “Durham’s Bull,” just fiddle and banjo. Pruett noticed that Warren kicked off the popular song much slower than was heard on the record. “When we finished the song, I asked him about the tempo and Paul said ‘Oh, Lester likes me to play it fast, but it supposed to be slower like that.’ We played it the right way!”
During the emotion filled induction at the IBMA Awards, Pruett was also glad to be able to express his gratitude to Warren’s family. “I sat behind Paul’s wife at the IBMA awards show,” says Pruett, “I got to thank her and her family for their sacrifice. I know it was tough to let Paul be on the road, but without their expense the word not have been privy to his great and influential talent.”
Pruett goes on to say, “I’ve heard that in the end of your career you return to music of your youth, but I feel like I never left it. Flatt and Scruggs has always been such a big part of my musical soul and Paul was an integral part of that volume of bluegrass history.” Pruett also expressed how thankful he was for Warren’s friendship: “He and his music have given my life an irreplaceable quality and I will forever be grateful.”
When asked what Paul’s reaction would have been to being inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Pruett suspects that he would have said “‘Aw shucks, I was just at the right place at right time.’ I can just hear him saying it. He was so down to earth and common as an old shoe, I just loved him.”
For more on Marc Pruett and Balsam Range, visit: www.balsamrange.com.
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