Our Featured Banjo Instructor
Alan Munde needs no introduction to long-time Bluegrass fans. From his early creative work with Sam Bush in Poor Richard's Almanac to his traditional bluegrass apprenticeship with Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys to his 21-year stint anchoring the landmark Country Gazette, Alan has blazed a trail as one of the most innovative and influential banjo players of all time. Along the way, Alan also recorded and contributed to numerous instrumental recordings, including the 2001 IBMA Instrumental Album of the Year - Knee Deep in Bluegrass.
Alan has supplemented his recorded work with several instructional publications for the banjo, and, since 1986, Alan has taught Bluegrass and Country Music at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, a program which has produced many professional musicians nationwide. In recent years, Alan has performed and recorded as a duo with his South Plains faculty colleague (and former Gazette-mate) Joe Carr. Alan's extensive body of recorded work, his instructional materials, and his work at South Plains (including the annual Camp Bluegrass) has solidified his status as one of the true 'gurus' of the 5-string. Alan currently serves on the Board of Directors of the International Bluegrass Music Association. He was profiled in the June 2005 issue of Bluegrass Now magazine.
Born in Norman, Oklahoma, Munde learned banjo from a well-regarded Oklahoman banjo player, Ed Shelton. He frequently played amateur gigs around the state where he first met Byron Berline at the University of Oklahoma. Shelton introduced Munde to three fine Dallas bluegrass players - Mitchell Land, Louis "Bosco" Land and Harless "Tootie" Williams - and the four of them joined to form "The Stone Mountain Boys" in 1965. Alan moved to Kentucky in January of 1969 after he had graduated from college to play with Wayne Stewart and Sam Bush in a group called Poor Richard's Almanac.
"Wayne Stewart had this idea for a group with this kid he knew in Kentucky named Sam Bush, who was probably 15. So I moved to Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and we formed Poor Richard's Almanac. Not long after, I got my draft notice, but before I left, Sam, Wayne and I made this tape, later released by Ridge Runner Records, called Poor Richard's Almanac, that was a lot of the instrumental things we were doing. I then went back to Oklahoma, was rejected by the Army, and worked in Norman that summer."
Munde joined the legendary bluegrass musician Jimmy Martin in 1969. He played with Martin as one of the Sunny Mountain Boys from October 1969 to October 1971, and in the meantime earned his living by working as a school teacher in Nashville. In 1972, Munde became a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers, performing with Byron Berline. After a European tour, the Burritos split up and Munde joined Country Gazette, then consisting of Roger Bush on bass, Kenny Wertz on guitar, and on the fiddle, Byron Berline, who had formed Country Gazette earlier in the year. Country Gazette went on to record their first album "Traitor In Our Midst" in 1972. For the next twenty years Alan remained a central figure in the Country Gazette, playing with notable musicians such as Roland White, Clarence White, Joe Carr and Gene Wooten. In 1977, Alan Munde and mandolinist Sam Bush recorded "Together Again for the First Time" with Roland White, Curtis Burch and John Cowan (both members of legendary New Grass Revival with Sam Bush).
His current band is called Alan Munde Gazette. The band features Alan Munde-Banjo, Elliott Rogers-Guitar/Vocal, Bill Honker-Bass/Vocal, Steve Smith-Mandolin/Vocal, Nate Lee-Fiddle/Vocal.1