The latest release from southwest Ohio-based Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers isn’t just a vibrant, imaginative and robust (14-cut) collection. It’s also an illuminating primer on southern Ohio’s rich bluegrass heritage, which includes the late Paul “Moon” Mullins, Joe Mullins’ father, who, in his time, was an accomplished fiddle player and popular bluegrass radio show host. (The Mullins family’s fascinating history as both musicians and entrepreneurs is told eloquently in a cover feature by Chris Stuart that appeared in the August 2012 issue of BU.)
On these 14 delightfully varied cuts, Mullins (who plays banjo and sings lead and tenor vocals on various tracks) and his four bandmates—Mike Terry on mandolin and lead and baritone vocals, Adam McIntosh on guitar and lead and baritone vocals, Evan McGregor on fiddle and lead and baritone vocals, and Tim Kidd on bass and snare drum—once again prove to be savvy musicians with a fine ear for great songs. Three of these songs were written by various bandmembers.
With 14 songs, there’s only room here to touch on a few of many highlights, such as: “Granddad (The Preacher),” a heartfelt tribute penned by Adam McIntosh; a heartfelt medley of old Osborne Brothers favorites and a plaintive cover of the Delmore Brothers oldie, “She Left Me Standing On The Mountain.” The band also serves up an impeccable gospel a cappella version of Becky Buller’s “Moses, Set My People Free.” Yet another high watermark is a rousing reprise of the bluegrass chestnut “Katy Daley,” which was penned years ago by Paul Mullins. (Rebel Records, P.O. Box 7405, Charlottesville, VA 22906, www.rebelrecords.com.)BA