Tom Riggs and Pinecastle Records

The bluegrass music industry has been hit hard by the sudden announcement on January 29 that Pinecastle Records was shutting down, with only 2 days notice. The decision was made by the family of Tom Riggs, who founded the company in 1989, and triggered by their recognition that Tom would require 24 hour managed care when he is discharged from the hospital soon into a nursing facility.

Tom’s son Cort, who runs the other family music business, bluegrass retailer Music Shed, tells us that Tom’s health issues and his current hospital stay are related.

“They are all rooted in the chronic diabetes he has lived with for years. He is stable, but has shown little improvement in the two weeks he has been hospitalized.

We hope to move him to the nursing facility very soon.”

The family has decided to focus their time, energy and resources on their dad, and the resulting loss of Pinecastle has led to a good deal of confusion and uncertainty among the artists signed to the label. Cort says that he will be in contact with everyone soon, and is considering such options as may exist for the sale or licensure of existing recordings and masters.

But even with the status of their contracts unknown, the Pinecastle artists we contacted were universal in their admiration for the Riggs family and the company Tom founded. One of the newer artists, Dixie Bee-Liners – who have yet to hear anything official from the label or their attorneys – share concern for Riggs. Vocalist Brandi Hart was quick with her praise.

“Our hearts really go out to Tom, who has always been a straight-shooter, a guy who does what he says he will do.”

Greg Cahill of Special Consensus expressed a similar concern…

“I would only say that I have stayed with the label for almost 8 recordings (we just finished recording a ’35th Anniversary’ project which I am now shopping to other labels) because Tom Riggs has always been an up-front and honest person. When we had disagreements, he would always listen and we could always work out whatever either of us perceived as a problem.

Tom is one of the most honest and sincere people I have ever worked with and it was indeed a sad day when the Pinecastle doors were closed for the last time – he worked very hard to help grow bluegrass music, he gave young artists the opportunity to put forth solo recordings and he created quite a legacy in the world of bluegrass music.

I hope Tom’s health improves and I plan to always stay in contact with him.”

Bobby Osborne has recorded on Pinecastle as half of The Osborne Brothers, and spoke very highly of his experience.

“Pinecastle Records has been a credit to the Bluegrass music lndustry and certainly its artists. Wishing Tom Riggs and company health and happiness.”

Larry Stephenson reports that the loss of Pinecastle has hit him especially hard.

“It’s been a very emotional time with Pinecastle Records closing its doors. I’ve not only lost my label, but the most important thing is the health of owner Tom Riggs.

I knew Mr. Riggs well before I joined the label. In 1989 when I put my band together he was the promoter of the Kissimmee, Florida bluegrass festival and for many years he would book my band there and at other date’s in the state of Florida. I was recording for the WEBCO label at the time, and I received word Mr. Riggs bought the WEBCO catalog and that started our 16-year wonderful relationship that I wouldn’t take anything for…

Mr. Riggs was like a second father to me and has been a mentor, business partner and friend, and one of the most honest straightforward people I’ve ever met. I’ll miss my Pinecastle days but things change and I’ll put out more CD’s and life will go on. I’m still selling my WEBCO & PINECASTLE CD’s and plan to continue.

Its very bittersweet knowing my 20th Anniversary CD and my friend Josh Williams’ new CD are the last to release on the label. This is also the 20th Anniversary of Pinecastle Records. Both of these CD’s are very much available, so go buy them and give them a listen to.

Again the most important thing to me at this time is the health and well being of Mr. Riggs and his sons Cort and Todd.”

Bluegrass Today aslo sends best wishes to Tom and his family in this time of difficulty.

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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.