CMH RECORDS (County. Music. Heritage.) maintains a rich history of classic country and bluegrass albums and is honoring several of these legacy releases by remastering them and making them available in digital format for the first time ever. Revived from the CMH archives, the classic album Bluegrass Concerto from The Osborne Brothers is out today (12/1) on all digital and streaming platforms.
Originally recorded in 1979 for CMH, the album starts with a bang with the Osbornes fashioning a bluegrass jam out of highly unconventional material borrowed from the classical music tradition. Consisting largely of originals penned by Bobby Osborne, this instrumental release allowed the Osbornes to play with some of their more exploratory musical ideas, while boasting their always excellent musicianship.
Listen to The Osborne Brothers’ Bluegrass Concerto available now on all digital platforms.
Heavily influenced by Ernest Tubb, Earl Scruggs and the country and folk music their music enthusiast father raised them on, Bobby and Sonny Osborne began their careers quickly and became stalwarts for bluegrass music in its more difficult years.
Due to a knack for innovations, the Osbornes had a tendency to alienate bluegrass purists at every point in their career. Early on, they unusually placed Bobby’s tenor lead above the rest of their vocal harmonies, as opposed to the typical approach that placed the melody in the center of a three-part arrangement. The brothers were the first bluegrass group to use an electric bass (as heard on this record) as well as instruments like drums, pedal steel, rhythm guitars and piano on recordings. Having said that, many listeners were turned off when the duo insisted upon amplifying their banjo and mandolin with electric pickups at larger festivals and concerts. Eventually, it turned out that their commitment to trying new ideas and techniques helped confirm their position in bluegrass history; thus, shaped the trajectory of bluegrass music throughout the decades.
This record, Bluegrass Concerto, is testament to the fact that these brothers never stopped pushing the music forward any way they could. From 1976 to 1991 the duo recorded seven albums for CMH, which came to represent some of their final recorded output together. Sonny Osborne retired from performing in 2005 due to health complications while Bobby continued playing music until the end of his long life. Sonny passed in 2021 and Bobby passed in 2023. Together, they were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1994.
Founded in 1975 by Martin Haerle, CMH Records has released albums from artists whose monumental influence on American roots music is unparalleled. The ‘70s and ‘80s represent the foundational recordings in CMH Records’ bluegrass, old time and traditional country history, with material being put out by Merle Travis, The Osborne Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Joe Maphis, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, Grandpa Jones, Lester Flatt and Eddie Adcock. Throughout the ‘90s and into the new millennium, CMH Records continued to cut records with artists such as Wanda Jackson (aka “The Queen of Rockabilly”), Raul Malo, Larry Cordle, Pine Mountain Railroad, Jimmy Gaudreau, and many others. Producing songs rich in American heritage by artists with their own distinct style created a strong backbone and history for the label.
The label remains a proud family business, now run by Martin’s son David. Described by the Los Angeles Times as a “stubborn, curious Silver Lake music company,” the label has been a strong proponent for honest music and has found success with its classic catalogue and its ongoing “Pickin’ On” series, which features bluegrass interpretations of contemporary artists, including recent hit albums dedicated to the music of Nirvana and Modest Mouse. The Times piece added that CMH “meets unsung needs in the music industry” and cited its “creative diversification.”
Track List for Bluegrass Concerto:
1. Bluegrass Concerto
2. Tina Rene Waltz
3. Bandy’s 109
5. I’ll Fly Away
6. The Homecoming
7. Jesse James
8. Bobby Van Waltz
9. Black Mountain Drive
11. The Unclouded Day