Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers - Rambler's Call

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Although he has been concentrating on keeping real radio alive the last few years, most bluegrass fans still recognize banjoman Joe Mullins from his years in the acclaimed Traditional Grass band with his late father, Paul “Moon” Mullins. Joe’s current group has dedicated “Rambler’s Call” to Moon’s memory. With their hardcore bluegrass, featuring less well-known classic bluegrass and country and excellent new material in the same spirit, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers would make Moon proud.

Like the Traditional Grass, the Radio Ramblers are a big ensemble with six members—Adam McIntosh (guitar), Mike Terry (mandolin), and Evan McGregor (fiddle) with all three joining Joe in the singing. Tim Kidd (bass and drums) and resonator guitarist Matt DeSpain round out the band. These guys exhibit the right blend of energy, drive, and soulful passion to make this unabashedly midwestern-style of bluegrass click.

Wynn Stewart’s “Another Day, Another Dollar” gets the album off to a rousing, yet atavistic start, and things just get better from there. The band pulls from sources as diverse as Don Reno (“Charlotte Breakdown”) to Primitive Quartet (“No Longer An Orphan”) to Tony Senn and Tommy Stough whose “Boston Jail” is one of the album’s most pleasant surprises. The title track comes from Boys From Indiana alumnus Aubrey Holt, whose contributions as a topnotch songwriter remain underappreciated. Joe’s former bandmate, Gerald Evans, checks in with two most appropriately retro compositions, “The Old Rocking Chair” and “Don’t You Want To Go Home.”

In the middle of the last century, immigrants from the South, especially eastern Kentucky, migrated to Ohio and made the Dayton and Cincinnati areas a musically distinctive hotbed for bluegrass. Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers deserve their place in a powerful tradition of music made by people with names like Osborne, Allen, Wakefield, and Harvey. (Joe Mullins, 23 E. Second St., Xenia, OH 45385, (www.radioramblers.com.) AM