Country Boy Rock & Roll from The Reno Gang

The music of Don Reno has left an indelible imprint on bluegrass music. During his performing career, Don wrote close to 500 songs, and recorded more than 60 albums during a 50 year career. Some with his longtime partner, Red Smiley, others with Bill Harrell, and others still with his family, all talented musicians themselves.

Bluegrass fans know his three sons, who worked with him during their youth, all of whom have gone on to make their livelihood in music. But Don also had a daughter, Barbara Jean, who was his first born child. And now her son, Kristian Echols, and his young daughter are dipping their toes into the family business.

Kristian has launched a new group, The Reno Gang, with his uncles Don Wayne on banjo and Dale on mandolin, both of whom had worked together previously as Hayseed Dixie. They largely created a new genre called rock grass, where the band performed rock covers in a modified bluegrass style and though they developed an audience at home in the US, were wildly popular in Europe, especially the Scandinavian countries.

So Kristian is pegging onto the reputation of his uncles’ band, and his grandfather’s music with a new album called Bad Apples From The Family Tree. It features 8 classic don Reno numbers, played in a Hayseed Dixie style – the ultimate Reno tribute!

Echols is the lead singer, who came up with The Reno Gang concept, with Don Wayne on banjo, Dale on mandolin, Dickie Brown on guitar, Ernie Sykes on bass, and Kensley Echols on piano.

Here’s their first single, Don’s Country Boy Rock & Roll, which he cut with Red Smiley back in 1956. See what you think…

Kristian says that they have had a ton of fun with this project.

“We are so excited about this project… It’s something Don Wayne, Dale and I have been dreaming about doing for quite some time.”

The single and the full album are available now wherever you stream of download music online.

You can learn more about The Reno Gang at their web site.

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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.