Mountain Home Music has released a new single today from the Chuck Wagon Gang, perhaps the most enduring group in American country and Gospel music. Launched in 1935, the band has remained active since that time with new singers coming onboard continually as founding members retired and passed away. At their peak the Gang was the top selling artist for Columbia Records, and to date they have sold more than 39 million records.
At the beginning, the Chuck Wagon Gang was a family group, a vocal quartet, featuring the Carter family of Texas – no relation to the Carters of Virginia, a la A.P. and Maybelle. Led by father D.P. Cater, who sang tenor, the Gang included his daughters Rose and Anna (soprano and alto), and son Eddie on bass.
These days, the group is led by Shaye Smith, who sings the alto part originated by her grandmother, Anna Carter Gordon Davis. Stan Hill sings tenor, and Melissa Kemper has soprano with Karl Smakula singing bass.
For their new Mountain Home single, the Gang has selected a bluegrass number, memorably recorded by both Larry Sparks and Ralph Stanley/Keith Whitley, I’ve Just Seen The Rock of Ages, written by John Preston while imprisoned in solitary confinement.
Smith says that its message of grief and longing carried a familiar echo for her and Hill.
“In choosing the music for our new record, we ran across this old song used mostly in bluegrass circles. 2020 has dealt the Chuck Wagon Gang multiple blows of death to immediate family members — especially relating to Stan [Hill] and I, as we both lost our Moms this year — so this song really hits home for us. But we know we are not alone, as so many have experienced loss in 2020. We pray that the message of this song will be an encouragement to all those who will hear it. May the lyrics remind us all that the loss of a Christian mother (or family member) has an assurance that as they ‘cross the River of Jordan’ they will be ‘homeward bound.'”
Here’s the track…
I’ve Just Seen The Rock of Ages will be available on Friday (1/15) wherever you stream or download music online. Radio programmers can find it at AirPlay Direct.