Eddie Pennington: The Man Behind the Music by yy7n5Fy


									                  Eddie Pennington: The Man Behind the Music
What makes Eddie Pennington pick? This licensed funeral director and embalmer became a full-time
musician because a love of traditional thumbstyle guitar courses through his veins, running as deep as the
seams of black gold that lie beneath the area he calls home: the western Kentucky coal fields.

Born in Hopkins County, Kentucky, Eddie was barely three months old when his parents, Norman and
Mary Rose, took him down the road to neighboring Muhlenberg County for the unveiling of a monument
in downtown Ebenezer to native son Merle Travis. On that sweltering summer day in 1956, could they
have ever guessed their son would grow up to become known throughout the world as the heir to the
Travis sound—the next best thing to hearing Merle himself?

Eddie credits his father as a major influence—both in his music and in his life. Norman, a fiddler, taught
Eddie his first guitar chords, and how to play rhythm. Eddie learned to play fiddle, too, but hearing the
alternating-bass rhythms of Merle Travis and Chet Atkins whetted his appetite for thumbstyle guitar.

In a recording Merle and Chet made together, Eddie heard Merle talk about how he had learned the style
from Mose Rager. When Eddie discovered that Mose Rager lived in Drakesboro in Muhlenberg
County—only twenty miles away—he was determined to pay Mose a visit. Eddie was eighteen years old,
and he still remembers that day in May of 1974 when Mose Rager welcomed him into his home for his
first opportunity to learn from the master:

"I went into town and someone told me where his home was. I looked around a bit and then knocked on
the door. A tall, older, white-haired man answered the door and I asked, 'Is this where Mr. Mose Rager

He looked at me and said, 'This is what's left of him,' and asked, "Are you a box picker?' I nodded and he
said, 'Then get your box, and come on in.' I did and that was the day this type of music came alive for me.
I knew I had met one of the masters and just knew I had to pick that way."

Today, Eddie Pennington is a walking, talking, guitar-playing testament to the talents that blossomed in
the dust of the coal fields so many years ago—those pickers who developed the country-ragtime guitar
style known as the "Muhlenberg Sound:" Mose Rager, Ike Everly, and Kennedy Jones—and their
predecessor, Arnold Schultz, whom Eddie refers to as a "Johnny Appleseed of Music." Eddie pays
homage to these men, plus the performers they influenced—Merle Travis and Chet Atkins—with each
thumb-perfect tune. He is as good an ambassador as western Kentucky music and culture could ever

Eddie lives in Princeton, Kentucky, with his wife Penny. His two children, Alonzo and Rosebud, have
inherited some of their father's skill and stage presence. Alonzo is an accomplished, in-demand musician,
and Rosebud often sings as her father and brother pick in the background. Though he has gained world-
wide recognition for his mastery of the guitar, Eddie Pennington's heart is always home in Kentucky, and
always true to his beloved style of music.

"If I had to play strictly top-40 type country music, I'd rather be embalming. If you're just playing for
people who want some racket while they drink and dance, I'd rather be cleaning out a fence row on a hot
July day. The thing about this (music) is that I get to play where my heart is at, and a lot of musicians
don't get to do that."

                    For more information on Eddie Pennington, contact:
                                  Eddie Pennington Music
                                  504 Madisonville Street
                                Princeton, KY 42445-1116
            (270) 365-5152      email: ep.thumb.picker@eddiepennington.com
                      On the web: http://www.eddiepennington.com

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