Don Reno and Bill Harrell had quite a run in the 1960s, with Harrell stepping in for Red Smily when Red retired in 1964. Red rejoined the group in ’69, and stayed until his death in ’72, while Don and Bill continued together until Don passed away in 1984. Bill went on performing with his own group, though more sporadically as he aged, leading up to his passing in 2009.
Don’s sons, Ronnie, Dale and Don Wayne, have been active in bluegrass all their lives, working together as The Reno Brothers for many years. Ronnie also toured with Merle Haggard for a time, and now hosts a number of popular shows on Bluehighways TV. Dale and Don Wayne were part of Hayseed Dixie, a hilarious group that started as an AC/DC bluegrass tribute band, who built a worldwide following.
Not as many fans are familiar with Bill’s son Mitch, who plays guitar and sings in the manner of his iconic dad, even keeping the band name that Bill used, The Virginians.
We heard last week from Mitch, with exciting news for Reno and Harrell fans. He, Dale and Don Wayne have assembled a new group, billing as Reno & Harrell. They are headed into the studio in January with plans to record a mix of their fathers’ hits and their own original songs. A debut CD is expected in the Spring of 2013.
Several festivals have already booked the band for next year. The show is expected to draw on both the Reno & Smiley and original Reno & Harrell catalogs. Mitch mentioned that they are considering reprising the Saturday Night/Sunday Morning theme mined so often in bluegrass.
The trio have been friends since childhood, and have played music together for years. Mitch says that all three of them are eager to get this party started.
More details about other band members will be announced soon. It is hoped that a live performance on December 8 in Annapolis, MD will yield some live audio or video we can share with our readers.