Beyond the Law, 0321 MEBJ, 36 MEBJ, Pg. 36

PositionVol. 36 1 Pg. 36


No. Vol. 36 No. 1 Pg. 36

Maine Bar Journal

March, 2021


Bill Monroe, the father of Bluegrass music, once remarked that “bluegrass has brought more people together and made more friends than any music in the world.” For Ben DeTroy, Monroe’s statement rings true. Not long after trading in his violin for a mandolin during his school days, DeTroy became deeply interested in bluegrass, a unique alchemy of American roots music, European folk traditions, and jazz influences. Although DeTroy’s enjoyment and skill when playing the mandolin are obvious, it is equally clear that bluegrass has provided him with a platform to share with others and pursue creative interests with his friends. Bill Monroe would approve. DeTroy, who otherwise maintains his law practice at O’Leary & DeTroy in Auburn, sat down with the Maine Bar Journal to discuss his pastime.

How did you get interested in the mandolin?

Well, I played violin for a few years in high school. And I always liked plucking the violin. The bow hand was a little rough for me. One day a girl in the orchestra named Melissa said: “You know, you really like plucking. Why don't you get a mandolin?” At the time, I was a sophomore in high school and never really considered this. This girl also told me that there was a guy selling old mandolins, which are called potato bugs or potato bellies. They have rounded backs. This sparked my interest. So, I bought this old potato bug and I played along with Jimi Hendrix records and the Doors, who I loved. I was about 15 when I discovered a bluegrass album from Flatt and Scruggs that belonged to my older brother Peter. I was really taken by the music.

Growing up in your household, did you have jam sessions among your siblings?

I played a lot with my brother Matthew. He is number four and I am number six among the siblings. We have a very musical family and have had many family jam sessions. We all would sing Kingston Trio songs, or my mother and father would sing some German folk songs. Music was a big part of our family and it really was a blast.

Do you have one mandolin or more than one?

Oh yeah, I have many mandolins, about a dozen.

What is your oldest mandolin?

My oldest mandolin is 100 years old – a Gibson A-Junior, the original mandolin that I started learning to play bluegrass on. Tis model was made at the old Gibson factory in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I think I bought it for $35 at a...

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