Kentucky Wild Horse takes its name from an old eastern Kentucky fiddle tune played by Wolfe County fiddler Darley Fulks (1895-1990) who possessed a vast repertoire of pre-Civil War tunes. Kentucky music from the 19th century down to the present, especially its fiddle and banjo traditions, has been our love and our inspiration.
The bluegrass music we have all played through the years in various bands and combinations has led us back to the older music that bluegrass evolved from. Bluegrass was but one of the many outcomes of the creativity and innovation that abounded during the golden age of rural southern music in the 1920s and ’30s. But the dividing line between Monroe’s 1945 band with David “Stringbean” Akemon on banjo and other bands of the late ’30s—like the Mainers or the Snuffy Jenkins-Pappy Sherrill group, that already featured 3-finger banjo picking and a driving bass—was never as clear cut as the distinction most people make between old-time and bluegrass music today. In Kentucky during this formative period, there was as much 2-finger and even 3-finger banjo picking as so-called clawhammer style, and there was as much attention given to expressive and emotional singing as in later bluegrass. Because of the sense of place that informs the music of a region, we find a consistency in deriving most of our music, whether old-time or bluegrass, from Kentucky sources. For us the two worlds are one, giving us the freedom to do what we like, combining the old with the new.
Unlike most old-time bands today, we use instrumental solo breaks and fills and occasional harmonies rather than one, two, or three instruments playing the melody straight through. We collect and value fine old instruments and we like to hear their sounds coming through. We liken it to the aesthetic that prevailed in the wonderful gatherings that once took place in the Kinney brothers’ barn on Salt Lick in Lewis County where the musicians were so attuned to each others’ styles that they never tried to play all together as in a jam but rather passed the fiddle around so that each individual could be heard and appreciated in their own way of playing. They got it in them, so let the boys pick! Then on the other hand, unlike most bluegrass bands, we keep old-time Kentucky fiddle tunes at the center of our repertoire and gravitate toward older songs and newly-written songs that have that old-time feel.
We believe the best original songs today are coming not from Music Row, but from real people, smart and observant, living in and listening to the heart of the country. The best songs are an expression of the place we live in, the people who are fighting to survive, and those who are working to keep our culture meaningful and strong for the next generation. They’re going to need it.