Thursday, January 29, 2015
Davis Motor Sales banner ad

ThumbpickerJoeHudsonJoe Hudson, Executive Director of the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame performed at the 2014 Mose Rager Day in Drakesboro.DRAKESBORO, Ky. (4/15/14) — Mose Rager is a name still unknown to many people outside the world of guitar pickers.

But for thumb picking guitar fans of the reclusive Muhlenberg County legend, Saturday April 12 was a day to celebrate.

The 14th Annual Mose Rager Day included free music, a potluck meal, and stories to share about a man known as much for his humor as he is for his intense passion to share his favorite style of picking.

The Muhlenberg Thumbpicking guitar style is something that Rager indeed loved to share with the likes of Chet Atkins, the Everly Brothers and their father, Ike Everly, and a young Merle Travis, who grew up just down the road from Rager in Ebenezer.

The Mose Rager event was held at the Drakesboro City Hall, where pickers joined together for the annual tradition of picking and sharing stories about this reclusive, often overlooked name in the history of guitar stylists. The event attracted people from throughout western Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee.

Joe Hudson, Executive Director of the National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame, told SurfKY News that the celebration started back in 2000.

"For those unfamiliar with Mose's thumbpicking sound, the easiest way to explain it is to listen to any Chet Atkins album," Hudson said. "Basically, the Mose sound is a sort of boom-chick, boom-chick type of rhythm. The bass line is played with the thumb and that frees your other four fingers for the melody and chords. Mose played a lot with Kennedy Jones, who was also from Muhlenberg County. The story goes that Jones went to a dry goods store in Central City back in the early 1900s and saw a Hawaiian banjo or guitar pick, which had a loop that holds the pick securely on the right thumb. He was told that it was not supposed to be used on a regular guitar. But Jones tried out the pick and liked what he heard. Mose soon picked up the then unheard of picking style and passed it on to Merle Travis, who lived just down the road from him in Ebenezer. Travis passed it on to Chet Atkins and the rest is history."

The Drakesboro City Hall sits in the shadow of the Four Legends Water Fountain, which honors the music of Rager, Jones, Travis and Ike Everly, the father of the Everly Brothers.

Mose-rager-day-tshirt

"This event is much like the Thumbpickers Hall of Fame induction in September, but on a smaller scale," Hudson said. "Last September's Hall of Fame event had about 5 percent of attendees from Kentucky and the rest from others states throughout the nation and a few from Canada."

Rager worked as a barber, at the Paradise TVA plant, and now and then would go on the road with other artists before he passed away in 1986. Unfortunately, the recluse mostly played on his front porch in Drakesboro, happy to share the style with anyone who approached him. However, Rager rarely recorded.

"There may be an album's worth of actual recordings out there now," Hudson said. "I don't think he ever actually recorded an album per se."

Danny Rich, of Central City, knew Rager, and helped to record the studio shy guitar genius at Cardinal Studios.

"The only way to get Rager to play with the microphones around was to take the light bulb out of the 'On Air' sign in the studio or cover it up," Rich said. "Once he got to talking and sharing stories, he'd start picking and we'd record him that way."

Mose-rager-dayScott Taylor, of Lexington, performed for the Mose Rager Day audience.

Hudson said that performers for the Mose Rager event included Paul Moseley of Beaver Dam, Freddy Russell from Todd County, Scott Taylor of Lexington, who is originally from Muhlenberg County and Eddie Pennington from Princeton.

"Once again this year we also had a phenomenal young 14-year-old named Evan Tweedy from Vincennes, Ind.," Hudson said. "This is still such a growing style around the world. This is something that Muhlenberg County, and the state of Kentucky can be proud of. This day is to honor Mose, to say 'Thank you' to him, and to carry on the awareness right here at home, to let people here know what we have here that should be cherished."

Hudson said that the 2014 National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame Induction will be the last weekend in September, adding that next year, the organization may need to change its name to the International Thumbpickers Hall of Fame, thanks to the musicians like Mose Rager, who helped create that Muhlenberg music the world seems to love.

Paul McRee
SurfKY News
Photos courtesy Marilyn Kirtley

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

In Other News...

Christian County Falls by Narrow Margin

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. (1/28/15) — Junior guard Eli Wright poured in a game-high 31 points to lead Apollo over host… Read More

City of Hanson Discusses Hiring Building Inspector

HANSON, Ky. (1/28/15) — The city of Hanson met for its regularly scheduled meeting to discuss new business Tuesday,… Read More

Most Read This Week

January 28, 2015 15638

UPDATED: Several Involved in Two-Vehicle Accident

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 23, 2015 9798

Local Church's Faith Restored; 71 Souls Saved…

in Video by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
January 26, 2015 6587

KSP Arrests Two on Child Porn Charges; MPD…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper Stu Recke
January 25, 2015 6491

Dean’s List Announced

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Joyce Riggs
January 23, 2015 6042

Parents Face Charges after Marijuana Joint Falls…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 28, 2015 5591

Nortonville Man Accused of Meth Possession,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
January 23, 2015 4813

Nortonville Woman Charged for Meth Possession

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office/Hopkins County Detention Center
January 26, 2015 4363

School Board Votes 3-2 for Utility Tax

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

January 08, 2015 21558

Woman Claiming to be 'Lady Gaga' Tours Town in…

in Top News For All Sites by Madisonville Police Department
January 15, 2015 21334

UPDATE: Fatality Victim's Name Officially Released

in Top News For All Sites by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Today

January 28, 2015 15638

UPDATED: Several Involved in Two-Vehicle Accident

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 28, 2015 5591

Nortonville Man Accused of Meth Possession,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
January 28, 2015 3474

Tax Recall Committee Formed Day After School…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 28, 2015 2302

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Jan. 28, 2015

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
January 27, 2015 2142

Whitfield Works to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

in General News For All Sites by Marty Irby
January 28, 2015 1788

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed Down

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 29, 2015 1688

UPDATE - Students Have until Jan. 31 to Enter…

in General News For All Sites by James R. Comer
January 28, 2015 1491

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

in Hopkins News by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
January 28, 2015 1239

Old City Hall Space to be 'First United Bank…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 28, 2015 1082

Letter to the Editor - Month of Mentors

in Hopkins News by Mallory D. Johnson
January 28, 2015 1071

Kentucky Lottery Results for Tuesday Jan. 27, 2015

in General News For All Sites by Kentucky Lottery
January 28, 2015 1048

Crime Stoppers Top Most Wanted - January 28, 2015

in Video by Crime Stoppers