Article Contributed by 615 Hideaway | Published on Monday, September 25, 2023

After 40 Years The Reno Family is releasing on October 6th an album collection of heritage recordings on Ronnie Reno’s Man-Do-Lin Productions label titled 40 YEARS LATE…and RIGHT ON TIME. The October issue of Bluegrass Unlimited includes a feature story on the upcoming album containing these never-before released recordings from this important multi-generational family in Bluegrass music.

The Reno name has been recognized, respected, and appreciated for all their contributions over many decades in Bluegrass and Country music. Father, Don Reno and sons Ronnie, Dale and Don Wayne have carved out a very special place, especially in the Bluegrass genre, that has garnered multiple hit records, awards, special achievements, and most of all the hearts and admiration of music lovers all over the world.

Over the years the Reno’s have all kept a busy schedule with their individual careers, sometime crossing paths performing together, but each following their own aspirations and career journeys. In 1983 the perfect storm occurred when The Reno Family, who were touring together in California, booked some time and magically recorded these heritage recordings produced by Ronnie Reno and Tom Stern.

Produced by Ronnie Reno and Tom Stern 40 YEARS LATE…and RIGHT ON TIME contains performances by Don Reno – Banjo, Ronnie Reno – Vocals, Guitar, Dale Reno – Mandolin, Don Wayne Reno – Bass, Banjo, Byron Berline – Fiddle, David Shapiro  – Guitar, David Nelson – Lead Vocals on “Alabam”










09. ALABAM” (Featuring David Nelson)


The historic album leads off with “Sundown And Sorrow” which is a deeply emotional love song that speaks to his devotion and lost love for the love of his life. It has left him with just memories and sadness of days gone by. Cowboy Copas originally recorded this song and released it on King Records in 1946. Hank Williams recorded this song as a demo in 1949 before his death and was released in 1953.

Other song highlights include “I Love My Savior Too” a classic southern gospel song and was originally recorded by the Chuck Wagon Gang in 1949. It was written by JR Baxter and James B Coats for the Stamps-Baxter Music Company.

“The special thing about this recording was that I was singing lead on the down beat and Don was doing the after-beat harmony on the chorus with his tenor vocals. Don calls this style of singing the Hic-cup style behind the lead vocal. You can hear this harmony on the Reno and Smiley version of “Echoes From The Burning Bush” – Ronnie Reno – Artist / Album Co-Producer

 Written by Don Reno, Red Smiley and Harry Leftwich “Unwanted Love” is a bluegrass standard and has been recorded by many artists. The Reno Family is excited to share their recording of this song with new life and high energy including Don and Don Wayne’s twin banjo intro and breaks done only as a father and son can do them. This song was released originally in 1961 by legendary Bluegrass group Reno and Smiley. “Unwanted Love” tells the story of wanting to know someone who’s known the pain of a failed love affair from the past. Very cleverly written by giving you hope of new true love while still not committing yet. Wanting to but waiting to give it one more chance to love again.

 “Whispering” is a big band era classic song that Don Reno learned while playing with Arthur “Guitar Boogie “Smith in Charlotte NC in the early 50’s. His laid-back feel while using his double roll on the second verse and single-string style is perfect for the banjo. Don was famous for taking very difficult orchestral music and making them fit the roll and style he created. David Shapiro played a very melodic break that also fit the feel and tempo of the song. Wonderful way to relax and enjoy the instrumental version of old songs done in a new way.

“Whispering is the last banjo instrumental tune recorded by Don Reno and was never released until now. This recording is historic for our family, bluegrass, and roots music”. – Ronnie Reno – Artist / Album Co-Producer

Another Baby Waiting For Me Down The Line” …It’s your typical love gone wrong but somehow, I’ll get along without you. The only difference is that he recognized they had lost the magic of being together, but he still needed love and affection to bounce back from his heartbreak. He’s just telling his partner; he believes he will be OK after he finds new love with Another Baby Waiting For Him Down The Line.

This song was written by Don Reno and Red Smiley and released on King Records in 1952. The Reno Brothers also released it with Ronnie McCoury singing lead vocals on their Drawing From The Well album in 1996.  This is the only recording that contains both Don Reno and The Reno Brothers performing this song together.

“Alabam” written by Cowboy Copas features the unmistakably lead vocals of David Nelson founder of the superstar country rock group the New Riders of The Purple Sage and currently with the David Nelson Band.

Album Co- Producer Ronnie Reno shares the album backstory about 40 YEARS LATE…and RIGHT ON TIME:

Dad and I started to put all the parts together for us to tour as the Reno Family band in 1982 because I had left Merle Haggard in 1981 and wanted to do some touring with Dad and the brothers. Dale and Don Wayne were playing so great at that time and we really sounded good as a family band. Dad and I always had a great blend together vocally and it just made sense to pursue this at that time. We were going to do 2 tours a year to the west coast just as the family and that would be early winter and early spring. The weather had turned cold on the east coast and the festivals were over for the year. The first tour was in early 1983 and while we were doing dates in California, we knew record producer Tom Stern was a big fan of Dads banjo picking. He was recording some cuts for a project he was doing called The Usual Suspects on Kaleidoscope Records. We got in touch with Tom and recorded one song for his project, “Lonesome Hearted Blues”. It went so well that we approached Tom about doing more recordings when we came back in the fall. That started two full projects with us recording for two years. One was Family and Friends released in 1988 and the other was the Reno Family.

What makes this album so special is that Tom Stern and I were going to do a tribute to Dad in 1990 with the recordings we had done in late 1983 and early 1984. The Final Chapter on Step One records had been released earlier as a tribute to him in 1986 after Dad’s untimely death. We talked a lot about the new tribute in 1990 and even discussed all the possibilities with the concept. Sorry to say we both got busy, and it never materialized. Thank goodness I had a copy of the master recordings, and we are so glad to let everyone hear them now.

This recording experience with my dad and brothers was very special and historic for our family and Bluegrass and roots music. I had recorded a lot with Dad starting with Don Reno and Red Smiley, then later with Dad and Bill Harrell. We had also recorded a project with Ray Pennington for Step One Records, later to be called The Final Chapter. Dale and Don Wayne were on that project with Dad and me before we recorded The Reno Family. I remember that Dad was so inspired with recording together as the family that he really showed us why he was known as such a great musician. We all could see the next chapter with our music but I’m sorry to say that “The Reno Family” was the last one he recorded. Dad got sick when we got home in 1984 and never came out of the hospital. Very emotional to talk about it.