Paul Kurtz and Audie Blaylock with a bucket o’ beans.
Promotional collaborations between bluegrass artists and major advertisers have been a part of our music from the very beginning, so much so that they have become part of the folklore of our story. Who can forget the Martha White Theme which was part of the Flatt & Scruggs show for so many years in the ’50s and ’60s. That partnership was so storied that I once met a banjo player from England at a workshop in Maryland who had been tasked by his bluegrass club back home with bringing back a sack of Martha White flour to be awarded as a door prize!
Martha White reinstituted a relationship more recently with Rhonda Vincent that lasted for some time, that had found her performing that same theme song, just as Lester and Earl before her had done, on her shows. Hot Rize had also made the song a standard part of their concerts, even pretending to have established a sponsorship with Trailblazer Dog Food for their traveling pals, Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers.
Other early grassers found similar relationships with Jim Walter Homes in Florida. Both Jim & Jesse and The Stanley Brothers had associations with the company, each spending periods down south appearing on radio programs sponsored by Walter. Still today, long past the era when such radio affiliations were make-or-break for entertainers, companies large and small see benefits from a close alliance with popular performers who plug their wares from the stage.
Audie Blaylock and Redline are the latest crew to land a mutually-beneficial agreement of this sort, with a coffee company in Mechanicsburg, OH called Hemisphere Coffee Roasters. They specialize in what is often described as fair trade coffee, where the US importers ensure that smaller growers around the world receive just compensation for their harvests by contracting with them directly, bypassing any middlemen. Owner Paul Kurtz chose as a motto for his company, Good Coffee… Doing Good.
Kurtz hooked up with the band through bass player Reed Jones, who befriended him through regular visits to the shop. A fellow connoisseur of the bean, Reed and Paul struck up a friendship, which led to further discussions with the band.
According to Reed, it started with a recognition that they had values in common.
“We really discovered a shared passion that drives us for things that are rooted in tradition, things that are meaningful and real. For Paul and his family, it’s about crafting great coffee and cultivating meaningful relationships with coffee farmers around the world. For our band, it’s about honoring the Appalachian culture, and crafting music that is honest, real, and hard-driving.”
Those discussions have led to Kurtz producing a custom blend called Redline Roast, which is available from the band online, and Audie and the guys creating an original jingle for Hemisphere which you can hear below.
Folks in central Ohio can look forward to hearing the jingle in advertising and promotion for Hemisphere Roasters, while Blaylock fans can relish a cup of Redline Roast with their morning routine.
Will this jingle reach the legendary status in bluegrass of the Martha White Theme? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.