Just when you may have thought you had heard every permutation of the country name song titles in bluegrass, Ray Edwards springs a new one on us. His latest single is Wanda Lou, and it’s not even a made up moniker. It’s one he wrote for his wife as a birthday gift three years ago, and it’s her given name.
Ray has been involved in bluegrass most of his life, starting out on banjo in his early teens. Along the way he developed a professional proficiency in all the instruments, leading to steady work as a sideman in both bluegrass and country bands. High points included stints with Tom T Hall and Jeanie C. Riley in the ’70s and ’80s before returning to a strictly bluegrass approach a number of years back.
And it’s been as a songwriter that Edwards has left his biggest mark. He shared a few words about Wanda Lou…
“Terry Foust and I have been blessed over the years to write a couple of songs that went to the top of the charts such as Hard Rock Mountain Prison (‘Til I Die) for Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, and Carolina Moonshine Man recorded by Lou Reid & Carolina. Wanda Lou is a Foust/Edwards composition that stands tall among our best hard-driving bluegrass songs.
Junior (Sisk) was the man to bring this song home and there never was a second choice. I sent it to Junior in the spring of this year and asked him if he would sing it on my new project, A Golden Anniversary Celebration for Pinecastle Records. Junior agreed, and working with him in the studio was an honor.”
The track features Ray on banjo and Junior on lead vocal, with assistance from Alan Bibey on mandolin, Mike Wood on guitar, Adam Haynes on fiddle, and Bobby Wood on bass. Daniel Salyer and Edwards provide the harmonies. Together they give the track an understated, Stanleyesque treatment, starting out with Ray doing his best Terry Baucom impression.