JOE MULLINS & THE RADIO RAMBLERS
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS, THE CENTERVILLE ALTERNATIVE STRINGS
More bluegrass bands should release videos of their shows. One per band would do it, just to give people a better sense of the band. There are technical hurdles, but the positives outweigh them, usually.
Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers are one group that took the plunge by recording this DVD in March of 2013 at a bluegrass show in support of Doug Eyink and the Centerville (Ohio) High School Alternative Strings program. The band here is Mullins on banjo, Mike Terry on mandolin, Evan McGregor on fiddle, Tim Kidd on bass, and newcomer Duane Sparks on guitar. At the time, Mullins had recently released his They’re Playing My Song album, and that is the source of much of this material. Just about the entire CD is covered, including “Cruisin’ Timber” and “Some Kind Of War,” which are played at the end with the Alternative Strings backing. Another four tracks, among them their excellent version of “Fallen Leaves” and the a cappella “Rock Of Ages Keep My Soul,” come from Hymns From The Hills, while “No Longer An Orphan” comes from Rambler’s Call. Only “I Want To Be Loved, But Only By You” is new.
This is not a case in which the technical hurdles hamper the show. The room has a bit of an echo, a note slips now and then, and some of the instruments (particularly the bass) fade in and out, but the chance to watch the interaction of the band, particularly that of McGregor and Terry when one of them does or doesn’t make the lick, more than makes up for it. Sparks is a nice addition and a fine singer, and the show as a whole is entertaining. (Joe Mullins, 23 E. Second St., Xenia, OH 45385, www.radioramblers.com.)BW