Della Mae – Big Spike Hammer

I’ve been waiting for this.

Ever since distaff grassers Della Mae started making waves in Boston a couple years back, I have been looking out for a video of them performing the Pete Goble/Bobby Osborne, classic Big Spike Hammer, the song that is the genesis of their band name.

The chorus of the song starts… “Hey, hey Della Mae. Why do you treat me this way.” Lest you suspect an unwitting coincidence, their web address is

Big Spike Hammer was famously recorded by  The Osborne Brothers, though like many younger folks, the Dellas Mae may have first heard the brilliant version cut by the Bluegrass Album Band in 1983. They were captured doing the song at Grey Fox this summer, and the video has been posted online.

The question arises… can a group of young women do justice to a song about a big, tough railroad man – without a banjo and in the key of E?

You tell me.

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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.

  • Mitch

    . . .and what the heck has happened to Della Mae’s former banjo player, Grace Van’t Hoff?

  • I say the answer is… boy howdy! That lead vocal could send a big, tough railroad man right on down the tracks!

  • Herb Montgomery


  • Della Mae

    Hello! Kimber Ludiker from Della Mae here (fiddler).

    You’re right! The inspiration for the band’s name came from The Osborne Brothers’ Big Spike Hammer (both versions were before our time… only one of us was alive for the Album Band’s release in ’83)! Although we don’t have the standard traditional instrumentation (we don’t have a banjo), all of our roots are in bluegrass. Any fan we can turn to the genre is a victory in our books!

    We were happy to oblige a request for our “namesake” at Grey Fox on the Master’s Workshop Stage this year! The reason for the key of E…. we wanted to play the song in a key that would accommodate harmony stacking. For you female singers out there, you know it’s hard to sing a baritone part in the key of B depending on the melody line.

    Mitch, Grace Van’t Hof is getting ready to go into the studio to record an alt-country solo project with a bunch of great musicians! Follow her here:

    For those of you who haven’t seen Della Mae live, we love to incorporate traditional bluegrass material into our sets as well as original material. Here are videos of recent cuts from our album:
    Jamie Dear:
    Polk County:
    Blessed Hands:

    Thanks for listening everyone! Visit us at (yes, for fun we also have same website)!