“There’ll be guitars and fiddles, Earl Scruggs and his banjo too
Bill Monroe singin’ out them ol’ Kentucky Blues
Ernest Tubb’s number Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right
At the Grand Ole Opry ev’ry Saturday night”
Grand Ole Opry Song, Jimmy Martin
It’s an appearance nearly all bluegrass and country artists dream of, from the time they first stand in front of a microphone, that someday, somehow, they might look out at the audience from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry.
Saturday night, July 27, 2013, that dream comes true for Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers.
It’s another milestone on the ladder to success for Joe and the Ramblers, who were named Emerging Artist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association last September. The Ramblers have been building a national fan base for the past three years, although each member of the band – Evan McGregor on fiddle, Duane Sparks on guitar, Mike Terry on mandolin, Tim Kidd on bass and Mullins’ banjo – has been playing for a lifetime. They bring that collective experience, and the polish they have forged by playing together, to the hallowed stage of the Opry. The band is rife with anticipation.
“We are beyond excited and very grateful,” says the band on their website, www.radioramblers.com. “SO MANY friends have encouraged us by buying tickets and making plans to be in Nashville with us. Thank You for sharing an evening that will be a career highlight forever!”
The highlight of the evening’s performance is certain to be Some Kind of War, the Bill Anderson-written song that Mullins and the Ramblers have taken to the Bluegrass Today chart. In fact, the band is actually playing during the segment of the Opry that Anderson is hosting, which should prove to be a very poignant moment. Some Kind of War is a special song that has far-reaching appeal to all listeners, as it speaks to a universal human condition of personal struggle. Mullins describes why the band was drawn to record the song.
“We were doing Some Kind of War onstage, and we started getting people coming to the table and asking for it, and people bouncing back on Twitter and posting Facebook messages, ‘Wow, that song really touched me,’ or ‘I could see myself in the seams of that song,’” Joe remembered in an interview with Bluegrass Today. “We were arranging material for our current CD, They’re Playing My Song, and I wanted something new and fresh that suited our traditional way of playing and singing, but wasn’t a traditional song. I’m fortunate to manage a network of radio stations that play classic country and bluegrass, so we get a lot of new music from classic artists. I had a Bill Anderson CD in the studio, his latest, and I thought, ‘I’m gonna listen to that on the way home, because [Bill] is such a great songwriter. He’s been making hits for over five decades.’
“That song came on, and I thought, ‘Man, that’s such a good song.’ I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to be the latest by Carrie Underwood or Vince Gill or whomever because all of these people record Bill Anderson songs, and when I found that no other current artist had recorded it, I said, ‘Check with Bill and see if we can record it.’ And man, we owned the song right off the bat. It’s one of those where immediately the listener can put themselves inside the song, so that’s working for it. It’s a great song.”
As far as bringing the song to the live audience of the Opry, both in the auditorium and the show’s listeners around the world, Mullins understands the potential impact.
“I think the song and the story, and the presentation will be positive energy for a lot of people,” he asserts. “I like music with a message.”
Fans of Some Kind of War may also find Joe and the Ramblers in a music video clip of the song online.
The band took the opportunity to make the video with the Alternative Strings, a bluegrass unit of the orchestra of Centerville High School in Centerville, Ohio, under the direction of Doug Eyink. Participating with the students was an opportunity the Ramblers were thrilled to take.
“[Doug] has been teaching these kids bluegrass and Celtic music, and he invited us to be a part of their annual Spring Bluegrass concert,” says Joe. “I just couldn’t be happier. We got with the orchestra a few days before the concert and we rehearsed. I probably had tears coming down both cheeks when I heard how those 50 or 60 kids took that melody and elevated it. There was so much positive energy when we recorded it, and it turned out as good as I could have hoped. We hope folks will continue to enjoy that video.”
As far as making their debut on the Grand Ole Opry, and continuing to grow their audience among music lovers, Joe has a special message for people who may be hearing Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers for the first time.
“I want folks to know that we’re sincere. We remind ourselves a lot, that there are a lot of people that wish they could play an instrument or sing, so badly. There are thousands of really good players and singers that never get an opportunity to be heard, or be in a good band.
We don’t take anything for granted. We’ve been blessed with the opportunity to be together and blessed with the opportunity to be heard. We’re sincerely having fun when we get out to an audience and share our music.”
The Grand Ole Opry airs live on WSM-AM 650 at 8 p.m. Eastern, or at www.wsmonline.com. Also appearing will be Vince Gill and Paul Franklin, Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press and Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis.