Bobby Osborne, Original, Unstoppable

Bobby-OBobby Osborne
Original, Unstoppable
By Larry Nager

Bobby Osborne sits at the microphone, smiling patiently as Bill Cody energetically lives up to his legendary status as morning drive-time disc jockey at even-more-legendary WSM, home of the Grand Ole Opry for more than ninety years. Job one on morning drive-time is keep your audience awake and listening, and Cody’s good at it. Well-caffeinated, he and his guest trace Bobby’s life back to the family farm in Hyden, Ky., Bobby wistfully recalling having to leave his beloved horse Maggie when his dad, Robert Sr., moved the family out of Kentucky coal country up to industrial Dayton, Ohio. The senior Osborne was teaching school to miners’ kids, but the assembly line at National Cash Register paid a lot better and guaranteed his own kids wouldn’t wind up in the mines. That was over 75 years ago, but Bobby remembers it like yesterday.

Sitting and talking with Bobby Osborne, it’s impossible to believe he’ll turn 86 on December 7th. His memory is unflagging and there’s a light in his eyes that’s absolutely ageless. An Opry member for 53 years, he’s been doing radio since he was a teenager, but he’s fully engaged and completely entertaining with Cody, enjoying that interview as if it was a new experience.

It’s no act. Bobby Osborne couldn’t be happier to still be in the music business, promoting his brand-new album Original (Compass Records). His brother Sonny retired in 2005, but Bobby refused to join him, even though he knew launching a solo career in his seventies wouldn’t be easy. “I’ve been on my own now 12 years,” he says with a mix of pride and resignation.

For a while, it seemed he had no choice about retiring, from his recording career at least. After his third album with Rocky Top X-Press, 2015’s Bluegrass & Beyond, he and Rounder Records parted ways and Bobby had no offers. Soon after, he found himself at Compass studios in Nashville, guesting on Peter Rowan’s Old School. “The concept of that record was to get some of the old-timers, some of the young folks, and some people in the middle to collaborate on some tunes that Peter had written,” says Alison Brown, co-owner of Compass and producer of both Old School and Original. “Peter got Bobby to come play on a few tunes, and he was playing and singing great. So he and I were hanging out in the tracking room between takes and he just mentioned to me that he thought he would never have a chance to make another record, and that just struck me as something I needed to try and rectify.”

Since she and her husband Garry West own the label and the studio, that would seem easy. But bluegrass album sales are driven by live shows. “Bobby’s not a full-time touring artist at 85 years old, so we needed to get creative in terms of cash,” Alison explains. With Compass footing most of the bill, she was able to get a grant from the Fresh Fest Foundation, augmenting that with a crowdfunding drive on PledgeMusic.com. Read entire article »

Bobby Osborne — Original, Unstoppable
By Larry Nager

Sideman Jeff White — Steps Into The Spotlight
By Bill Conger

Roger Williams & Amy Gallatin — Partners In Music, Partners In Life
By Rick Lang

Thirteen-Year-Old Guitar Phenom
Presley Barker
Surrounded By Mentors Who Won’t Let Him Get Above His Raising
By Derek Halsey

Byron Berline
By Craig Harris

General Store
Obituary: Bill Bryson
Notes & Queries
National Bluegrass Survey
Reviews
Personal Appearance Calendar
Classified Ads
Advertiser Index

Subscribe today!

 

Bluegrass Survey

Top Album for August

IN THE GROUND, GIBSON BROTHERS
Rounder 00173


Top Song for August

BLUE COLLAR DREAMS BALSAM RANGE (Aaron Bibelhauser) MOUNTAIN VOODOO Mountain Home 16732

August 2017 Reviews

EARL SCRUGGS: BANJO ICON—GORDON CASTELNERO AND DAVID L. RUSSELL Rowman & Littlefield 9781442268654. Hardback, 258 pp., Forward by Bela Fleck, $40. This is an insightful tribute to the man who put the banjo in bluegrass. Taken from many oral histories or first-hand accounts of folks who knew Scruggs, we get a rather detailed look into […]

Read full review »
MAMA-CORN

MAMA CORN LIVE AND LEARN No Label No Number Mama Corn, a fun and funky bluegrass group from central Pennsylvania, has scaled down from a quintet to a quartet since their previous recording Hold That Crooked Line. On Live And Learn, they sound like they’ve done exactly that, refining their sound and repertoire and managing […]

Read full review »
RR-ANDREW-VOGTS

ANDREW VOGTS SASQUATCH WITH AN ALIEN ON ITS HEAD Patuxent Music CD-298 Here is another talented young picker making his recording debut on Tom Mindte’s Patuxent Music. His name is Andrew Vogts. He’s 15, plays fiddle, and is already something of a music veteran, having won competitions at Galax and Clifftop and also performed with […]

Read full review »
JACOBS-FERRY

THE JAKOB’S FERRY STRAGGLERS WHITE LIGHTNING ROAD No Label No Number The latest from the western Pennsylvania-based Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, a self-described “Appalachian bluegrass” band, features a collection of originals by bandmembers Gary Antol and Joe Dep, plus some traditional tunes. Two well-chosen covers that really show off the old-time instrumentation and natural vocal blend […]

Read full review »

SING ME BACK HOME: SOUTHERN ROOTS AND COUNTRY MUSIC—BY BILL C. MALONE Univ. of Oklahoma Press 9780806155869. Hardcover, 368 pp., 21 b&w illus., $29.95. (Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2800 Venture Dr., Norman, OK 73069, www.oupress.com.) This new book from Bill Malone is a collection of essays written during his more than fifty years as a […]

Read full review »
ROB-BENZING

ROB BENZING Patuxent Music CD-296 Those concerned with the future of traditional bluegrass music can seek comfort in the latest crop of young pickers coming along, making the next generation of tunes. Rob Benzing debuts with a self-titled album that combines old favorites and fresh tunes from this banjoist and his group of friends and […]

Read full review »
Logston-&-Stephens

CORRINA ROSE LOGSTON AND JEREMY STEPHENS SONGS OF HOME AND INSPIRATION No Label, No Number    Recordings like this remind us that these old songs still have power to both entertain and move the listener. The old brother-duet style, focused largely on sentimental or religious tunes, may be somewhat dated by contemporary standards, but it’s still […]

Read full review »
DAVE-ADKINS

DAVE ADKINS TRIO TURN TO JESUS Mountain Fever MFR 170407 Bluegrass gospel recordings can use approaches ranging from spare to ornate, following one end or the other exclusively, or create an overall blend located anywhere on the spectrum or mixing and matching tracks from all over that spectrum. There is no right way. Each approach […]

Read full review »
Zoe-&-Cloyd

ZOE AND CLOYD EYES BRAND NEW No Label ZC02 When a duo releases a debut album, it makes perfect sense to present themselves in the authentic purity of two voices and two instruments. That’s exactly what Zoe and Cloyd did on their initial recording, Equinox. And it makes just as much sense, when putting out […]

Read full review »
TIM-O

TIM O’BRIEN WHERE THE RIVER MEETS THE ROAD Howdy Skies CD-2017    No American acoustic artist has presented a more honest, deeply-rooted expression of bluegrass, old-time, Celtic, and roots music than West Virginia’s favorite son, Tim O’Brien. Whether it’s his early work with the Ophelia Swing Band, his initial solo records and songwriting work for Nashville […]

Read full review »
DARRELL-WEBB

DARRELL WEBB BAND LOVER’S LEAP Mountain Fever Records MFR170210 Darrell Webb’s years with Wildfire, Lonesome River Band, Rhonda Vincent, and Michael Cleveland have served him well. The time spent with those groups enabled Webb to learn both sides of the business—the stage and the office. He took those learned skills and formed his own band […]

Read full review »
TUSSEY-MTN

TUSSEY MOUNTAIN MOONSHINERS SHINE No Label No Number In the liner notes, the following recipe appears: “How to make SHINE. 5 parts songwriters, 6 parts acoustic instrumentation, and 3-part harmonies. Age ingredients 18 months on many stages. Take fermented sour mash to the stillhouse, add one condenser microphone, and boil. Do not over mix.” The […]

Read full review »
WEEPING-WILLOWS

THE WEEPING WILLOWS BEFORE DARKNESS COMES A-CALLIN’ No Label No Number The second recording from Australian duo, Andrew Wrigglesworth and Laura Coates (The Weeping Willows) is a collection of original songs guaranteed to haunt. “We are the darker side of Americana,” Laura Coates says. “We are drawn to murder ballads, as well as spiritual hymns, […]

Read full review »
NED-LUBERECKI

NED LUBERECKI TAKE FIVE Clemment Luberecki Music CLM 0317    The ever quixotic Mr. Luberecki has produced an engaging outing here that will take the listener on a romp through a wide range of material with an extensive cast of musical partners. There are interesting and engaging banjo and fiddle duets with Becky Buller, hard-driving bluegrass […]

Read full review »
GARRETT-NEWTON-BAND

THE GARRETT NEWTON BAND YOUNG HEART OLD SOUL Pinecastle Music PRC1204 Young looking even for 17, Garrett Newton is well on his way to making a name for himself in the bluegrass community with his first solo release Young Heart Old Soul. He’s been playing banjo since he was ten, when he started hanging out […]

Read full review »
LARRY-CORDLE

LARRY CORDLE GIVE ME JESUS Mighty Cord Records MCR1003 Singer-songwriter-producer Larry Cordle and his celebrated musical compatriots sure raise a joyful noise on this fine new gospel album. The 13 wisely-chosen songs are an inspired mixture of traditional spirituals (the title-tune and “Two Coats”) and powerful oldies (Carl Story’s “It’s A Lonesome Road,” A.E. Brumley’s […]

Read full review »
DOS-VALLEY-TRIO

DOS VALLEY TRIO JEWELS OF THE SAN JOAQUIN Mt. Wow CD002 This trio is composed of Harry Liedstrand on fiddle, guitar, and vocals, his wife Cindy on guitar, and Terry Barrett on mandolin and fiddle. This is their loving look back on part of the wealth of tunes and songs they learned from their mentors […]

Read full review »