When the new Governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, was inaugurated on January 15 of this year, Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys were invited to be part of the celebration parade in Richmond.
II tells us that the Governor’s people got in touch with him through the Birthplace of Country Museum in Bristol, saying that he would like for them to perform.
“We thought it was a great opportunity to represent southwestern Virginia, and bluegrass music, in Richmond.
In the parade, we were riding in a truck, and when we got to where the Governor and his people were on the viewing stand, we got out and went over to where microphones were set up for us. I remember when we were announced the crowd went crazy.”
One supposes no one was expecting to hear some good old time bluegrass at the inauguration.
“You could tell that the Governor really enjoyed it. I had been told that he liked fiddle music. The Stanley Brothers had won the Instrumental of the Year with Orange Blossom Special in 1955, so we did that one for him. I believe that was Chubby Anthony on fiddle with them then. We played it based on the style of that record.”
Stanley said that they had to go to Richmond a day early to do a sound check, and while they were there, II’s banjo player, Landon Fitzpatrick, noticed that Dwight Yoakum was playing there that same night. After a couple of phone calls, Ralph and the boys were invited to the show.
“It was an extra special thing. Dwight mentioned me from the stage and sang Miner’s Prayer, the one we recorded together for dad’s Saturday Night, Sunday Morning album.
After the show we got to visit with him backstage. I hadn’t seen Dwight in years. He is a fine man and a great friend. He treated us real good.”
Ralph also recalled that Capitol Square in Richmond, where they performed for Governor Youngkin at the inauguration, held a special memory of his father, Dr. Ralph Stanley.
“That was the same spot where dad played for the Queen of England in 2007 when she visited Virginia. I was singing lead with dad back then. It was even the same sound guy from 2007!”
And speaking of memories… Let’s have a listen to that 1955 Mercury recording of The Stanley Brothers playing The Orange Blossom Special.
Well done all! Congratulations to Ralph II and The Clinch Mountain Boys for this honor.
Photos courtesy of Kaytlin Nickens, Markus Schmidt and Cardinal News.