24 December 2013

What goes around, comes around

Thanks to John Goad on Bluegrass Today for a feature on a band newly formed from bluegrass veterans and bearing (legitimately) a name from an earlier generation of bluegrass pioneers: Reno & Harrell. Dale Reno and Don Wayne Reno, well known to audiences in Ireland as members of Hayseed Dixie, have teamed up with Mitch Harrell and produced their first album together, Reno bound.

The album includes a song which is featured in their first music video: 'A dollar down and a dollar a week', which their fathers recorded in 1967 - and which had been recorded a generation earlier (1931) by Luther Ossenbrink, the Arkansas Woodchopper. The New Lost City Ramblers released in 1968 their own recording, based on Ossenbrink's, and eight or nine years later the Sackville String Band were playing the NLCR's version to Dublin audiences. Small world...

You can see the Reno & Harrell 'Dollar down' on their website, or on YouTube. Also in the band on the video are Robbie Wells (fiddle) and Ron Spears (bass) - Ron will be remembered by many over here as mandolinist and lead singer with the Special Consensus some years back. And just to close a further circle: the photo image above, which was used back in August in advance publicity for the First Bunratty Banjo Pickers Festival, is also on the Reno & Harrell website, which suggests that the hands belong to Don Wayne Reno, and that the banjo may be his father's RB-75 'Nellie', previously owned by Earl Scruggs, and thus arguably the second most important banjo in bluegrass history.

BIB editor's note, 26 Dec.: I really need to get a grip. The banjo in the photo has an inlay pattern which is not the same as that on 'Nellie' - quite apart from the fact that it has been fitted with a pickup.

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