It is with great pleasure that Pinecastle can present the final release in a four-part series documenting the career of The Osborne Brothers from Hyden, Kentucky to The Grand Old Opry. After Sonny Osborne’s retirement in late 2007, it looked as though the series that started in 1998 would be incomplete. We think we’re wrapping it up with an extra special treat for you with these seven unreleased tracks recorded during the middle of The Osborne Brothers’ period in Nashville. Each part of this series has documented periods of time and places that were stepping stones that ultimately led to Brothers Bobby and Sonny moving to Nashville and becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry on August 8, 1964. Bobby, who still performs as a member of the Opry to this day, is celebrating his 50th Anniversary as a member during 2014.
1964 also marked Bobby and Sonny’s association with Decca Records. During the sixties they rose to prominence not only in the bluegrass world but also in country music as well, being named Vocal Group of the Year by the Country Music Association in 1971. During this period they began playing in package shows with country acts and, as a result, adopted an electric sound that offended some hardcore bluegrass fans. Sonny explained the change, “We were playing a lot of package shows in those days along with other Opry acts.
To be honest, at first we failed miserably. The reason being, after listening to three or four electric bands before we came on, the audience’s hearing had adjusted to that volume and they just couldn’t hear us. We were playing The Flame Club in Minneapolis and not selling to the crowd very well, so we went to a music store and bought pickups, cords, etc. We put a pickup on Bobby’s mandolin, Dale Sledd’s guitar, my Guitjo, and we were already using an electric bass. (The Guitjo was tuned and played the same as a banjo.) We used Ronnie Reno’s Bass amp, along with the house band’s steel and guitar amps. We started out with the volume rather low, but that did not work, so we adopted a policy of ‘peel the paint off the walls!’ and at least make them listen, hear, and pay attention.
We did, and they did. Using steel, piano, electric guitar, sometimes fiddle, and drums on recordings also got us airplay on a lot of country stations that would not play bluegrass.” Bobby commented, “Everybody did not like it, but in the long run it was good for us and good for bluegrass music.” Good enough to garner fame, 21 National charting records, and despite some opposition from bluegrass, still being chosen as Bluegrass Band of the Year for from 1970 to 1980 in the Music City News’ fan poll!
The Osbornes were working on a new record in 1973 when the Decca name was dropped in favor of MCA. The brothers had a falling out with members of the MCA staff and ended their association. As a part of the dissolve of the relationship, Bobby and Sonny were able to keep seven tracks of the planned album that they had already finished recording. The tracks were recorded at the famed Bradley’s Barn with the star-maker, Owen Bradley, producing. The cuts feature a who’s who of the Nashville studio scene at the time and clearly has the “electric” sound Bobby and Sonny adopted out of necessity to compete with the big country acts of the time.
The previous projects in this series feature a wealth of history and stories directly from Sonny’s and Bobby’s mouths, and you are encouraged to seek them out. We’ll leave it at this and let the music do the talking for itself. A special thanks to Bobby and Sonny for their cooperation, insight, and ultimately, the music. Thank you to Col. Tom Riggs who brought this project to Pinecastle and helped it come to fruition.
Pinecastle Records has been staying busy this winter and is excited to announce a busy 2014 release schedule full of great American roots music releases. New releases will include albums by The Osborne Brothers, The Farm Hands Quartet, Wildfire, The Gentlemen of Bluegrass, I Draw Slow, Phil Leadbetter, and Matt Wallace.
The Osborne Brothers album Nashville will be released, June 10th, on CD and for the first time in Pinecastle’s history, 12” vinyl. The release includes seven unreleased tracks from the mid-1970s recorded at the famed Bradley’s Barn in Nashville. This album will conclude the four part series began by Pinecastle in the 1990s to chronicle the Brother’s journey from Hyden, KY to the The Ryman.
Gospel artists, The Farm Hands Quartet are heading to the SPBGMA Convention this week with 14 nominations including Bluegrass Band of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year, Entertaining Group of the Year, and Traditional Gospel Group of the Year. Band members Daryl Mosley and Tim Graves are no strangers to Pinecastle. As a team, they released Remembering The Beacon Brothers and were members of the Osborne Brothers' band. Tim released several solo albums on Pinecastle and Daryl had several releases with the band, New Tradition.
Wildfire is putting the finishing touches on a new album that will mark their return to Pinecastle. The band’s first three releases were with Pinecastle along with lead vocalist Robert Hale’s solo debut in 2012, Pure & Simple. The band’s recent releases have been big radio hits with tracks reaching #1 on several charts.
The Gentlemen of Bluegrass provide traditional bluegrass sound similar to bands like The Country Gentlemen and Seldom Scene. They have a highly energetic live show with many entertaining twists and turns. Pinecastle saw them live at a festival and based on the crowd’s response, knew the Gentlemen had something special. Their project, Carolina Memories is set for release on June 10th.
I Draw Slow’s US debut, Red Hillswound up on many top 10 of 2012 lists. The Irish based roots group will release White Wave Chapel in North America on July 8th. Their popularity has spread quickly and they find themselves on two U.S. tours this year playing many prestigious festivals including Grey Fox, Merlefest, Rockygrass, Pickathon and more. Check out this live sneak preview recorded at last year’s Pickathon: "Bread and Butter"
After a fight with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2011, a healthy Phil Leadbetter is back on the road performing with Dale Ann Bradley and actively working on the follow up to the IBMA Instrumental Recording of the Year Slide Effects. The album, titled The Next Move, is shaping up to be an exciting collaboration with Phil’s friends including: Jerry Douglas, Rob Ickes, Mike Bub, Shawn Camp, Steve Wariner, Joe Diffie, Marty Raybon, Sierra Hull, Sam Bush, Kenny Smith, and many more.
“Old Man Winter,” the first single from Matt Wallace’s album For a Season, is starting to pop up on radio playlists across the country. Wallace is the bass player with Newton & Thomas, Audie Blaylock, and Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive. For a Season is set for an already announced March 11th release date.