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Uncle Pen’s Fiddle Makes Music Again

October 7, 2009

At  Jerusalem Ridge, in Rosine, Kentucky this past weekend the famous fiddle known by all in  “Uncle Pen” was brought to life again.


Last night, after Ralph Stanley’s set, Uncle Pen’s last fiddle was presented on stage by the family who has owned it since Pen’s passing. Pendleton (Pen) Vandiver was an uncle to the father of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe. The fiddle was played as the sisters sing a beautiful gospel song. This fiddle is the one that Uncle Pen played when Bill Monroe lived with him in his log cabin from 1927-1929.

Ths fiddle also the one referred to in the famous lyric “they hung up his fiddle, they hang up his bow, they knew it was time for him to go.”

After Pen passed away in 1932, the fiddle was inherited by Cleve Baize who played it until he died and then left it to his children. The have lovingly kept it safe all these years.

The fiddle, immortalized in the song, “Uncle Pen” was frequently performed by Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. The song has been performed by thousands of bluegrass music groups and has become a staple of bluegrass songs for jams, festivals and concerts.

Bill Monroe’s parents both passed away before Bill turned 16. Bill lived with his Uncle Pen, in a two-room hilltop house in Rosine, Kentucky. Both Bill and Uncle Pen are resting in Rosine today.

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