(Cover of the 1976 album on Flying Fish)
In between Uncle Josh Graves and Jerry Douglas, there was Mike Auldridge, the preeminent dobro player of his day. Now, unfortunately, his long day has closed. Just one day prior to his 74th birthday, he died on December 29 in hospice care in Silver Spring, Maryland after a battle with cancer.
He was a founding member of The Seldom Scene and was an integral part of the acoustic music melting pot of the 1970's that fused bluegrass with jazz and folk.
Born in Washington, D.C. he began playing music as a teenager and he was given his first dobro by Uncle Josh himself.
I was fortunate to have seen The Seldom Scene many times during its heyday, and while John Duffy's antics and fabulous mandolin playing often were an evening's highlights, Auldridge cut a handsome, lean figure in his freshly ironed faded jeans and silver grey hair, always far stage left, always letting his meticulous playing do the talking for him.
Auldridge last played with Darren Beachley and The Legends of the Potomac bluegrass band. Past bands include Emerson and Waldron, Cliff Waldron and the New Shades of Grass, Chesapeake, The Good Deale Bluegrass Band, and John Starling and Carolina Star. He was also a member of the touring bands of Emmylou Harris and Lyle Lovett.
During 2012 Auldridge recorded a “dobro trio” album with Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes that is set for release in 2013. The as yet untitled album was recorded in a number of sessions this past year in a studio near his home in Silver Spring.
Auldridge won numerous awards including a Grammy, Frets Magazine's "Dobro Player of the Year", the IBMA's Distinguished Achievement Award and was named an NEA Heritage Fellow this past year. He also had a series of instructional videos.