Barber, musician celebrates 50 years of business

Bill Vincent plays his guitar during the Bluegrass Jams on Thursday, Oct. 15 at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in Bowling Green. Vincent has been participating in the jam session for the past two years. Shaban Athuman/HERALD

Andrew Critchelow

If you walk into Dye’s Barber Shop on 216 Old Morgantown Road, you’ll notice headshots of bluegrass musicians, a painting of Jesus Christ and several hunting trophies. But most importantly, you’ll see David Dye, owner of the oldest barber shop in Bowling Green.

Dye started working at the shop, built by his late uncle in 1957, in 1965 and hasn’t stopped since. Dye said 50 years of cutting hair in Bowling Green has gone by faster than one might think.

“It makes me wonder where it all went,” he said.

Dye attended Tri-City Barber College in Louisville before helping out at the shop. He said his decision to become a barber came from his reluctance to become a miner in his tiny hometown of Woodbury in Butler County.

“I was born with bad lungs, and all down in my country was coal mines,” he said, “so I started looking for other avenues, and I thought, ‘Why not try barber school?’”

Despite his long history in the hair-cutting business, Dye said it took him a while to warm up to the job.

“At first I didn’t like it that well because there’s a lot of work and a lot of learning,” he said. “But it’s sort of like a puzzle; it starts fitting after a while.”

Along with his passion for the barber shop, Dye is also a bluegrass music enthusiast and musician in his own right. Dye plays a variety of instruments including guitar, fiddle and bass fiddle. Dye performs in two musical ensembles: a bluegrass band called South Union and a gospel group called The Dusty Road Boys.

Danny Iler, member of The Dusty Road Boys and Dye’s longtime friend, said he values Dye greatly as a musician and as a person.

“David brings everything to the table,” Iler said. “He has a servant’s heart, and he does everything for the right reasons.”

Dye’s interest in music bloomed at the age of 14 when his father, also a musician, introduced Dye to the world of country music.

“We’d listen to the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday,” Dye said. “So my first taste of music was country music.”

Dye soon discovered bluegrass and started drawing influence from artists such as Boz Scaggs, Ralph Stanley and Bill Monroe.

Rickey Deweese, also a member of The Dusty Road Boys, said Dye keeps the traveling group interesting.

“When we’re out traveling together and singing, he always has all kinds of good stories to tell,” Deweese said. “He’s just a lot of fun to be around.”

Busy as he is, Dye said he has no plans to retire from cutting hair or playing music.

“I’m old enough to retire, but everyone who retires looks for another job,” he said. “I’ll probably do this as long as I can.”