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Detroit to Wheeling

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Wonderful addition to every bluegrass fan's library

    I reviewed a ten-track radio/media sampler that gives us a glimpse of what's in store on the full two-CD album which is the third in a four-part series documenting the Osborne Brothers' career from Hyden, Kentucky to The Grand Ole Opry. Part 1 (PRC-1085) is called "Hyden," while Part 2 (PRC-1100) covers "Dayton to Knoxville." On Part 3, we're given highlights from the years 1953-62. Most people know that Bobby, the older of the brothers, began his musical career in 1949 with banjo player Larry Richardson and the Cline Brothers (Ray and Charlie) in The Lonesome Pine Fiddlers. A year later, Sonny joined the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers at age 13. In 1951, Sonny was hired by Bill Monroe to play banjo with the Blue Grass Boys. "Detroit to Wheeling" picks up in 1953, when Bobby and Sonny teamed up with Jimmy Martin and performed on a radio station in Detroit as "Jimmy Martin and the Osborne Brothers." They were invited to come to Nashville to do a radio program, but they turned it down because the pay was minimal. The sponsors hired Flatt and Scruggs instead for "The Martha White Show" on WSM. In 1955, the Osbornes parted company with Martin and worked with Charlie Bailey in Wheeling, West Virginia on WWVA. In 1956, the brothers formed their own band with Red Allen singing lead, and they signed with MGM Records. These albums document a key era in their pre-Grand Ole Opry days. The project opens with "Shady Lane," a new instrumental composition by Sonny. Then, the album launches into up-to-date recordings of many classic bluegrass and gospel standards. Material from Charlie Monroe, the Louvin Brothers, Johnnie and Jack, Bill Monroe, and Flatt and Scruggs are some of the repertoire. The sampler I previewed notes that "The Hills of Roan County," "Here Today and Gone Tomorrow," and "We'll Meet Again Sweetheart" do not meet today's standards for broadcast use, and are "included only for their historical significance." The two former tracks are from live radio performances on WWVA in the winter of 1957. The latter features a rare, live radio duet with Bobby Osborne and Lester Flatt, along with the accompaniment of Sonny Osborne, Paul Warren, Josh Graves and Jake Tullock. If this ten-song sampler is any indication, the full 2-CD set would make a wonderful addition to every bluegrass fan's library, especially those who want a good musical overview of The Osborne Brothers' distinguished career. (Joe Ross, staff writer, Bluegrass Now)

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