Rural Missouri - May 2013 - (Page 22)

Below: For more than 30 years, Jerry Rosa of Newburg has been involved in nearly every aspect of bluegrass music. From performing on stage to repairing damaged instruments to building beautiful custom mandolins, like the one seen here, he does it all. Right: Jerry repairs the neck of a dulcimer that had split around a tuning key. He claims he can fix anything with strings smaller than a piano. WHERE BLUEG knocked his dream off course. After graduating from high school, he went to work for Southany a bluegrass tune begins deep in an western Bell in St. Louis Ozark holler — where clear, spring-fed designing computer streams flow beside towering limestone systems. He’d eventually bluffs, where dogwoods bloom and retire from the company moonshiners hide, where deer and turkey raise their after 27-1/2 years. young and the faithful praise the Lord. Music entered Jerry’s life with a vengeance about Such a place is where you’ll find Jerry Rosa, a the time he turned 28. He first picked up a fiddle multi-talented bluegrass virtuoso who lives tucked and began teaching himself to play. “I was obsessed back on 280 acres in Phelps County, not far from with it,” says the Gascosage Electric Cooperative where the waters of the Little Piney and the Gasconmember. “But after six months of trying really hard, ade rivers meet. I thought to myself, ‘I am not a fiddle player.’” During the past 30 years, Jerry has lived as varied a career as anyone Jerry put down the fiddle, went to Kmart and could in bluegrass music. While his bought a $50 mandolin. Almost overnight, he could play it, he says, and soon he sought multi-faceted business, Rosa String Works, is hard to describe, Jerry’s passion his uncle’s approval. “He said I sounded a bit wimpy, that I is not. Whether he’s performing on stage, • needed to learn to play double notes to building a custom mandolin, repairing a get some volume,” Jerry says. “Well, broken guitar, producing a record or teachNewburg the last thing I wanted to be was ing the next generation to play, music is wimpy, so I tucked my tail between always the focus. “When I was a little kid, we’d ride down my legs and hid out for about a year learning to play these double notes.” old Route 66. We’d get to this area, and I remember But Jerry took Uncle Don’s advice a little too wishing I lived here,” Jerry recalls. “So when this far. Instead of learning to play an occasional set of place came up for sale, it was like it was meant to be. double notes for emphasis and extra volume, Jerry I love living here. It’s heaven on earth.” learned to play everything with double notes. “So, I Although Jerry’s official foray into music play completely different than every other mandolin wouldn’t begin until he was in his late 20s, his introplayer on the planet. I’m basically playing harmony duction to bluegrass music came early in life. His to myself.” uncle, Don Brown, was an accomplished mandolin As Jerry’s skills improved, it wasn’t long before he player who made a name for himself in the 1950s wanted to upgrade his mandolin. Uncle Don recomplaying with a group called the Ozark Mountain mended a Gibson F-5 built by famous luthier Lloyd Trio. Among the original members of the band was Loar, which he considered the best mandolins ever a banjo player named John Hartford, who is best built. But the price was out of Jerry’s reach, so he known for penning the song, “Gentle on My Mind.” decided to build his own. “When I was a little bitty kid, I remember John Although Jerry’s first mandolin was a little rough Hartford showing me my first three chords on a guiaround the edges, it sounded great, even receiving tar,” Jerry says. “It’s just a neat memory.” approval from skeptical Uncle Don. “That validated As a teenager, Jerry’s first love was archery, a it and from that point on, I was building instrusport at which he excelled. He had aspirations of ments,” he says. becoming an Olympic archer until a shoulder injury M 22 by Jason Jenkins jjenkins@ruralmissouri.coop Whether on stage, in the studio or in the WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP To date, Jerry has built three fiddles, five guitars and 29 mandolins. Known for their volume and tone, Jerry’s mandolins are patterned off the famous Lloyd Loar design, and each is crafted with a particular musician in mind. His most ambitious project Jerry, center, performs with the Rosa String Works Jam Band at group are, from left, Bev Spencer, guitar; Dick Hatfield, banjo; R http://WWW.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - May 2013

Rural Missouri - May 2013
Table of Contents
Comments
Columns
Chronicle of the corncob pipe
Missouri Snapshots contest
The family that drills together
Out of the Way Eats
Where bluegrass grows
Outdoors
Hearth and Home
Veggies and vision
Vertical gardening
Around Missouri
Marketplace
Neighbors
Just4Kids

Rural Missouri - May 2013

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