A flood of old music from Rebel

Rebel Records has been focusing of late on a slew of re-issues and compilations from their rich catalog of bluegrass music. This week, they have announced five more sure to warm the hearts of fans who remember the ’70s and ’80s – or who missed out on the great music from that era.

There are two new digital-only re-releases that hit earlier this week, both of which featuring bands that helped bridge the divide between the 1st and 2nd generation of musicians to the sound and style we know as contemporary bluegrass today.

1971’s Traveling Light from Cliff Waldron was his fourth project for Rebel, at a time when his band, The New Shades of Grass, consisted of some of the top pickers the DC area had to offer. Ben Eldridge was on banjo, Mike Auldridge on resonator guitar, Bill Poffinberger on fiddle, and Ed Ferris on bass. Waldron played guitar and sang lead with a smooth baritone that presaged the country-inflected vocal style that is common in bluegrass today.

As was the Waldron style, the songs are drawn from bluegrass favorites, then-contemporary writers and country classics.

Help Me Make It Through The Night
Then I’ll Miss You
Falling Leaves
Rock Bottom
Silver Wings
Bill Cheatham
Ice Covered Birches
Nobody’s Love Is Like Mine
Close The Door Lightly
Sunnyside of My Life
You Ain’t Going Nowhere
Red Apple Rag

The Virginia Squires were a very popular group in the mid-1980s, and served as an important link in the transition to what we see now as mainstream bluegrass. Like The Knoxville Grass before them and the Lonesome River Band that followed, The Squires had a muscular, in-your-face style that was decidedly young and fresh – and starkly different from what else was out there on the festival scene.

Mark Newton was on guitar, Sammy Shelor on banjo, Rickie Simpkins on mandolin and fiddle, and Ronnie Simpkins on bass. Mountains and Memories was their first album in 1984, and it was a hit right away, most notably their cut of Randal Hylton’s Cold Sheets of Rain.

For many in the wider bluegrass world, this record provided the first glimpse at these future band leaders and super sidemen, and provided Newton with a larger audience for his distinctive vocal style.

Tracks include:

Cold Sheets of Rain
The Sky is Weeping
Chilly Winds
The Girl I Left in Sunny Tennessee
Ticket to Ride
Country Song
Only a Memory Away
I Will Run
Nightime Lady
MacClenny Farewell
Honky Tonk Women

Both re-issues are available wherever digital downloads are sold online.

Rebel also has 3 CD compilations due to hit in June. Each brings selected tracks from multiple recordings into these special editions from some of Rebel’s most beloved artists.John Duffey – The Rebel Years: 1962-1977 features cuts of Duffey from projects with The Country Gentlemen and Seldom Scene, along with two early Gentlemen tracks previously unrealeased on compact disc.

Let Him Lead You is a second CD sampler of Larry Sparks Gospel gems, taken from albums between 1974 and 2000. Larry contributed to the extensive liner notes, written by Chris Jones.

Yesteryears: Best of the McPeak Brothers pulls tracks from their three Rebel LPs in the late ’70s/early ’80s, all of which have been out of print for more than 20 years.

Look for all three CD compilations on June 7.