Smithsonian Folkways celebrates the golden age of Bluegrass music in Southwest Ohio with the release of Industrial Strength Bluegrass on March 26. The second single, "Family Reunion" featuring the Queen of Bluegrass Rhonda Vincent and bluegrass music's rising star, Caleb Daugherty releases today.
Industrial Strength Bluegrass is the story of bluegrass’ transformation from a music to a movement, carried north by Appalachians seeking a better life in the booming post-WWII factories of Southwest Ohio. The 16-song collection was produced by IBMA Award-winning musician/bandleader Joe Mullins, whose father - fiddler and radio personality Paul “Moon” Mullins - made that journey and helped found the region’s bluegrass scene. The compilation (companion to the new book of the same title from University of Illinois Press) presents Southwest Ohio bluegrass classics remade by an all-star cast featuring Country Music Hall of Famers the Oak Ridge Boys and Vince Gill, Bluegrass Hall of Famer Bobby Osborne, and many of today’s finest bluegrass and Americana artists including Lee Ann Womack, Dan Tyminski, The Isaacs, Sierra Hull, and more.
Pre-order the album HERE: https://orcd.co/industrialstrengthbluegrass
The bars and honky-tonks of Dayton and Cincinnati were a fertile training ground for scores of bluegrass musicians. The Osborne Brothers, Red Allen, Frank Wakefield, Earl Taylor, Jim McCall, and many others paid their dues playing hole-in-the-wall clubs during the 1950s, ʼ60s, and ʼ70s. Two young men from just across the state line were frequent members of bands during this era and avid listeners of WPFB. After playing and singing for factory workers in unassuming bars throughout the Miami Valley, Aubrey Holt and his uncle, Harley Gabbard, later helped to found the popular bluegrass band the Boys From Indiana.
In 1957 they wrote and recorded “Family Reunion” as the Logan & Laurel County Boys for Cincinnati’s Excellent Records. Later that year Bluegrass Hall of Fame member Carl Story would record the song for Mercury Records with his band the Rambling Mountaineers, and it became an enduring standard. Aubrey Holt continued as one of bluegrass music’s leading composers, penning songs like “Atlanta Is Burning,” “Sad Wind Sighs,” “We Missed You in Church Last Sunday,” and “It Won’t Work This Time.”
Recent Grand Ole Opry inductee Rhonda Vincent, “the Queen of Bluegrass,” delivers a soulful rendition of this gospel classic. She is joined by one of the brightest young voices in bluegrass, Caleb Daugherty, a Hoosier who credits his early near-neighbors, the Boys From Indiana, among his varied influences.
Listen to "Family Reunion" via Bluegrass Today HERE.
Industrial Strength Bluegrass releases on Smithsonian Folkways and will be available everywhere on March 26. "Family Reunion" is available today. For more information visit folkways.si.edu/industrial-strength-bluegrass.