Ralph E. “Bud” Reed passed away at his home in Rising Sun, Maryland, on Saturday, February 12. He was aged 93.

Reed, who married Ola Belle Campbell in February 1949, was born in Conowingo, Maryland on January 16, 1918, and served his country in the Army during WWII.

He contributed a lot to Ola Belle Reed’s musical success, traveling and performing with her for many years. Between 1972 and 1978 he actually sang and played guitar and harmonica on all her albums.

In 1950 Bud and Ola Belle Reed began operating Rainbow Park in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania.

Then, along with his wife and brother-in-law, Alex Campbell, Reed built and started another country music park at New River Ranch a year later. About 1960 he helped to establish another music park at Sunset Park, in West Grove, Pennsylvania. Family members performed there for 26 years.

In 1982 he  recorded his own Jimmy Rogers album, Way Out on the Mountain: Jimmie Rodgers Songs by Bud Reed, released by Folkways Records.

Reed enjoyed fishing and spending time with his family and friends.

Carl Goldstein remembers ..…

“Bud was a significant figure in the old time and bluegrass scene. Along with his wife Ola Belle reed they helped establish and run New River Ranch near Rising Sun MD which became one the premier country music parks in the country in the late 1940s and 1950s.

In addition he performed and recorded with Ola Belle internationally, playing guitar and mouth harp. Bud also sang, loved Jimmy Rodgers songs and in face recorded an LP of Jimmy Rodger’s songs for Folkways Records.

Beyond all of the Bud was a kind, generous soul and a good friend. He will be missed by all who knew or heard him.”

Footnote: The country music parks such as New River Ranch and Sunset Park provided venues for performers and fans in the still very active hillbilly and honky-tonk music scenes, welcoming old-time music legends, bluegrass bands and home-grown groups.

With an open-air stage and wooden planks for seats, picnic suppers and rudimentary PA, what New River Ranch lacked in amenities, it made up tenfold with the music.  Hundreds and thousands of local and city folk would enjoy their weekends there.

Historically, these venues have been very important being the sites where performances by the likes of the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, the Stoneman Family and other bluegrass greats were recorded by enthusiasts and students.

Additionally, one of those with recording equipment was Mike Seeger and it was at his urging that Ralph Rinzler first visited New River Ranch in 1954 to see Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys; an experience that profoundly affected the future of not only Rinzler and Monroe, but also the future of folk and country music in ways that continue to resonate today.

UPDATE 2/23: Gary Reid, a major component of bluegrass music’s institutional memory, caught a minor error in this piece.

“Sorry to learn of Bud Reed’s passing. Enjoyed reading Richard’s post about him. One minor correction…Richard states that Bud/Ola Belle, etc helped to organize Sunset Park in 1960.  They did move from New River Ranch to Sunset Park, but… Sunset was already in operation, having been started by the Waltman family in the 1940s.”

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.