Big City drops for Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers have a new single today with Billy Blue Records, featuring the newest Rambler, Jeff Parker, on mandolin and lead vocal. It’s a song called Big City – not the Merle Haggard country classic, but another by that name recorded in 1964 by Margie Bowes and other major artists of the day.

Mullins tells us that it actually has true bluegrass roots as it was written by Paul Williams and his brother, Sam.

“Paul Williams wrote and recorded some of the most requested songs in bluegrass history alongside Jimmy Martin with the Sunny Mountain Boys. Their show was in great demand in the early 1960s, nationwide, from Nashville to Las Vegas and throughout Canada. Paul signed on as a staff writer for Sure Fire Music and Decca Records. Many of his songs were recorded by country artists including Big City.

I found the original version on an Ernest Tubb album from 1965. Paul’s given last name is Humphrey. He began his career as a radio performer in the early 1950s with a duo known as the Williams brothers and kept the stage name. His brother, Sam Humphrey, was a frequent co-writer. Coincidentally, I recorded several albums with an all star band, Longview. The first hit single that band released in the 1990s was written by Sam Humphrey, I’ve Never Been So Lonesome In My Life.

Paul is a wonderful mentor to The Radio Ramblers and so many other artists inspired by his fantastic voice and songs, and his sweet spirit. Old or new, it’s always a good choice to record a Paul Williams song!”

Parker demonstrates why he has been such a heralded bluegrass vocalist this past three decades, with a career taking him from Lonesome River Band, to Dailey & Vincent, and now The Radio Ramblers. His crisp mandolin kicks off the track, with strong instrumental performances as well from Jason Barie on fiddle, Adam McIntosh on guitar, and Mullins on banjo. With Joe’s prominence in the band as a singer, we can sometimes overlook just what a remarkable banjo man he is as well, and it shows in spades on Big City.

Check it out in this lyric video…

Now that’s some good grass!

Big City is available now as a single from popular download and streaming services online. Radio programmers will find the track at AirPlay Direct.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.