Born in southwestern Virginia, Fred Bartenstein grew up loving bluegrass and mountain-style music. He learned to play guitar as a young teenager and selected Harvard for his college education because Boston had an active bluegrass scene. After college, he decided to settle in Dayton for the same reason. He quickly became immersed in that scene, first playing with Jack Lynch. In the late 1970s, he helped to form the Dorsey Harvey Band, which played around Dayton for seven years, with Fred singing lead and playing guitar. Fred emceed numerous bluegrass festivals and elevated standards of professionalism and punctuality. While still in college, he edited and built the Muleskinner News into a great bluegrass magazine. Fred has worked as a bluegrass deejay at stations in the East and at Dayton area stations WYSO, WBZI, and WONE. From 2002 to 2008, he locally produced Banks of the Ohio: Music From the Homeplace of Bluegrass for the International Bluegrass Music Museum. Rebroadcasts of this program on bluegrass history are available on WAMU’s He has done market research on bluegrass, performed organizational work for the IBMA, worked on projects for the International Bluegrass Music Museum, and developed an analysis of the first 60 years of professional bluegrass recording artists, which he calls Bluegrass Generations. In 2006 he was the Chairman of the Board of Bgrass, Inc., a non-profit corporation dedicated to preserving the history of bluegrass music in southwestern Ohio. He has received awards from the IBMA for Distinguished Achievement in 2006, Best Liner Notes in 2013, and Print Media Person of the Year in 2013. He has taught classes at the University of Dayton Lifelong Learning Institute. He edited Josh Graves’s memoir Bluegrass Bluesman, published by the University of Illinois Press in 2012. In 2014, he and Gary Reid co-authored The Bluegrass Hall of Fame, which was published by the International Bluegrass Music Museum. He is editor of two books to be published in 2017 by the University of Tennessee Press: Roots Music in America: Collected Writings of Joe Wilson, and Lucky Joe’s Namesake: The Extraordinary Life and Observations of Joe Wilson.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License