The Seldom Scene
Written by Lou Ellen Wilkie on November 13, 2022
The Seldom Scene
The Seldom Scene is a groundbreaking bluegrass band that has been entertaining fans for over four decades. The band was formed on November 1, 1971, by John Duffey after leaving the Country Gentlemen. John Duffey(mandolin), John Starling (guitar and lead vocals), Ben Eldridge (banjo), Mike Auldridge (Dobro™), and Tom Gray (bass) made up the original band. Over the years there have been several lead singers for the Seldom Scene including John Starling (he was both the first and the fourth), Phil Rosenthal, Lou Reid, Moondi Klein, and Dudley Connell. In 1988, T. Michael Coleman replaced Gray after having worked with Doc and Merle Watson.
The name, Seldom Scene, was inspired by their decision to stay home and play once a week at a local club near their homes and day jobs, rather than touring. Their first gig was at The Rabbit’s Foot in Washington, D.C., but they quickly quit because the bartender wouldn’t turn down the TV. They went on to perform for several years on Thursday nights at the Red Fox Inn in Bethesda, Maryland; before eventually moving to the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia.
November 10th, 1986, they celebrated their 15th anniversary at Washington D.C.’s Kennedy Center. Special guests in the celebration were Ricky Skaggs, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, the Whites, Jonathan Edwards, and presidential press secretary James Brady, who brought congratulatory greetings from then-President Ronald Reagan. In 2003, the original Seldom Scene re-united for several concerts (calling themselves The Seldom Seniors) with Larry Stephenson taking John Duffey’s spot. In October 2013, the band celebrated its 40th anniversary with a concert at the Red Fox Inn in Washington, DC. The show featured past and present members of the band, as well as special guest Emmylou Harris. In 2014, the original lineup of the band was inducted into the IBMA’s Hall of Fame.
The band originally formed in the early 1970s and has been credited with helping to pioneer the progressive bluegrass sound.