Catching up with Jerry Salley and Billy Blue Records

Jerry Salley, Billy Blue Records’ Creative/A&R Director, is a thankful man.

“Billy Blue Records just celebrated its four year anniversary, and I am extremely grateful that, in my opinion, we have built one of the best rosters in bluegrass music. Not only do we have great talent, we have good people who share the same values.”

A division of the Gospel record company, Daywind, Billy Blue is a Nashville-based secular bluegrass label.

“We have a great team and incredible artists, and that makes my job easier. We have grown the label, but are trying to do it slowly and methodically, which has lead us to turn down folks interested in recording with us.”

A songwriter, performer, producer and recording artist himself, Salley admitted, “There were certain folks that I could not say ‘no’ to. When I got the news from Doyle (Lawson) that he was retiring, it left a huge hole in our roster. Jerry Cole and Eli Johnston reached out and said they’d like to continue [working with Billy Blue] in their new ensemble, Authentic Unlimited. That was a no-brainer!”

“We released two Authentic Unlimited albums at the same time, a self-titled project and a Gospel Sessions – Volume 1. We had never released two albums from the same artists at the same time. They debuted at number 4 and 5 on the Billboard Bluegrass Charts!

We were also pleased to add the Tennessee Bluegrass Band (featuring Aynsley Porchak and Lincoln Hensley). Their first album releases July 22, and we are excited about them as well!”

BBR’s current recording artists include: Alan BIbey & Grasstowne, Appalachian Road Show, Authentic Unlimited, Tennessee Bluegrass Band, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Donna Ulisse, Kristy Cox, plus solo projects from Marty Raybon, Jason Barie, and Barry Abernathy.

Salley is thrilled with the the response from public and from radio, as well as the label’s future. “We currently have 77 nominations in the second round of IBMA (2022 Award Ballots). We will host a Billy Blue Records Showcase at IBMA on Wednesday, September 28, 2:00-5:00 p.m., in the Raleigh Convention Center. There will be a wide range of artists from the label performing there.”

There’s a lot going on with BBR. 

Salley explained, “Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers are in the studio working on a new album to be released in 2023. Darin & Brooke Aldridge are also recording for their new project. Marty Raybon just released his third single for an upcoming bluegrass album. Alan Bibey has most of the songs picked out for his next project. And, our current IBMA ‘New Artist’ and ‘Instrumentalists of The Year,’ Appalachian Road Show, have just released their first single from an exciting new album.”

Here’s a current listing of BBR singles receiving airplay, plus three new singles to be released in July, and two upcoming albums slated for release in July and October of this year.

Billy Blue current radio singles:

  • Alan Bibey & Grasstowne – Rhythm of The Rails
  • Appalachian Road Show – Blue Ridge Mountain Baby
  • Authentic Unlimited – Hannah (releasing July 8)
  • Barry Abernathy (featuring Dan Tyminski) – Unwanted Love
  • Country Faith Bluegrass – My Future Ain’t What It Used To Be (releasing July 15)
  • Darin & Brooke Aldridge – No Mistakes
  • Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver – That Train Don’t Stop Here Anymore
  • Donna Ulisse – Gray Rock, Red Clay Land
  • Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers – Big City (releasing July 29)
  • Kristy Cox – Good Morning Moon
  • Marty Raybon – A Little Bit Of Living
  • The Tennessee Bluegrass Band – I’m Warming Up To An Old Flame

Upcoming releases:

  • The Tennessee Bluegrass Band debut album, The Future Of The Past, releases July 22.
  • Appalachian Road Show album, Jubilation, releases October 8

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.