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Ranny Daly was the program director at WPFB in Middletown in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and was responsible for all the great live bluegrass and country music heard on the station.

Ken Davidson is a record company owner and producer, and a native of West Virginia, as you might deduce from the names of two of his record labels:  Kanawha and Poca River.  He began documenting old-time music in West Virginia in the early 1960s with records on Kanawha by Clark Kessinger, Billy Cox, Franklin George and others.  He also issued an LP by Ohio State Champion Fiddler Curly Herdman.  In the early 1970s he moved to Dayton and began issuing some local bluegrass material by Ron Thomason, the Hagan Brothers, Dorsey Harvey, and Chris Montgomery.  In the 2000s, he started issuing CDs on the Tri-Agle-Far label, reprising some of the Kanawha material as well as some new things.

DAVIS, GUSSIE L. (1863-1899)  
Born in Dayton, Gussie Davis was one of the first African- Americans to achieve success as a writer of popular songs.  He worked as a janitor at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and listened in to classes there although he wasn’t allowed to enroll.  He wrote what were known as “parlor songs” in their day that were picked up years later by old-time country and bluegrass musicians.  Some of his best known songs were “Maple On the Hill,” “In the Baggage Coach Ahead,” “Footprints in the Snow,” and “Goodnight Irene.”

Greg Dearth was born in Dayton and was involved in the resurgence of bluegrass and old-time music in the Dayton area during the 1970s and early 1980s.  He played old-time and bluegrass fiddle with the Hotmud Family, the Hagan Brothers, and the Hutchinson Brothers and recorded with Bill Lowe.  During the early 1970s he was teaching fiddle at Dayton’s Living Arts Center.  He wrote a well-known instrumental “Empty Pocket Blues” which was recorded by the Hutchison Brothers and later made popular by the nationally known group Hot Rize.  In later years he got into other types of music with the Rugcutters, Rhythm In Shoes, and in 2007 is a part of the Dayton group Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers where he plays fiddle, clarinet, sax, banjo, and guitar and does the occasional vocal.  He is an artist/illustrator whose work has appeared in books and in advertising for Fortune 500 companies.  In 2007 he was living in Franklin, Ohio and working as a portrait artist.  On the other side of the artistic coin, he drew a wonderful cartoon for the back cover of the Hotmud Family’s live LP on Flying Fish Records which depicted a bar scene showing the conflicting thoughts of the band and various bar patrons.

DECKER, PARIS         
Southwestern Ohio mandolin player and bluegrass gospel pioneer, Paris Decker partnered with Dave Woolum to cut two bluegrass gospel albums on Hamilton, Ohio’s Pine Tree label in the early 1970s.  Decker’s son-in-law Sherrill Jennings is a bluegrass banjo player and gospel songwriter.

DELMORE, ALTON (1908-1964)
Alton did most of the lead singing and played standard guitar for the Delmore Brothers.  He did the bulk of the songwriting and also wrote a partial autobiography “Truth Is Stranger Than Publicity.”  He wrote or co-wrote “Beautiful Brown Eyes.” “Brown’s Ferry Blues,” “Gonna Lay Down My Old Guitar,” and “Freight Train Boogie.”  The Brothers recorded extensively at Cincinnati’s King Records in the 1940s.

DELMORE, RABON (1916-1952)           
Rabon played four-string tenor guitar and sang most of the harmony for the Delmore Brothers.  He wrote “Hillbilly Boogie,” which heavily influenced the later rockabilly movement.

DOOLEY, BOB             
Bob Dooley was one of the early bluegrass musicians in the Dayton area.  A fiddle player, he played the West Third Street bars in the 1950s along with the Brock Brothers, Red Allen, Frank Wakefield, Johnnie McKee, and others.  In 1971, he was working with Jedd Raleigh and the Country Cutups who were active around Dayton at the time.  They cut a single on Jalyn with Bob featured on one side of the record with his composition “Dooley’s Breakdown.”  In 1978, he was playing with Paul Arrwood and the Sundown Travelers at the Oak Club at 1301 Wayne Avenue.

The three Duffey brothers pretty much held the WYSO DJ shows together in the early days.  They also had a band and played some live music around the Dayton area.  Tom Duffee plays banjo with the old-time band The Corn Drinkers.

Glen Duncan was born in Columbus, Indiana.  His parents were both musical and he learned several different instruments growing up, but settled on the fiddle as his primary instrument.  He played around central and eastern Indiana with Buck’s Stove and Range Company, with the Russell Brothers and recorded with Larry Sparks on three of Larry’s albums.  He was in The Boys From Indiana for a while, with Bill Monroe, Jim & Jesse, the Kendalls, Lonesome Standard Time, and others, including the super group Longview.  He started doing session work in Cincinnati, and eventually moved to Nashville.

EDMUNDSON, DAVE           
Dave Edmundson was one of the founders of the Hotmud Family and was with the group until it disbanded in the early 1980s.  He sang and played guitar, fiddle, and mandolin.  Later he was a member of the Dry Branch Fire Squad.

Tony Ellis was born in North Carolina but has resided in Ohio in recent years, first in Chillicothe and later in Circleville.  He plays both banjo and fiddle, and worked for Bill Monroe and also for Mac Wiseman in the early 1960s.  After tiring of working in road bands, he settled in Chillicothe and began playing on weekends with his neighbor, Lonnie Seymour, who was a renowned Ohio old-time fiddler and who had once performeded in a group on radio called the Ross County Farmers in the late 1940s.  The Ross County Farmers were revived in 1983 by Tony, Lonnie, and Jeff Goehring to play at the National Folk Festival, held in Akron that year.  Their music is preserved in a cassette titled “Farmer’s Frolic” issued by Marimac Recordings in 1987.  Tony also had an LP on Flying Fish Records and a series of CDs.  He has represented Ohio folk music on international tours and has served as a master artist in several traditional arts apprenticeships. In 2003 he was honored as an Ohio Heritage Fellow at the Cityfolk Festival in Dayton.                                                                                                                                                    
Howard Epstein is a Miami University professor who has been the driving force in organizing and presenting the bluegrass concerts that are part of the Miami University Hamilton Artist Series at Parrish Auditorium.  He seems to have a knack for booking cutting-edge bands just before they break out nationally.

EPSTEIN, LOU (c. 1924-1963)    
Lou Epstein was majority owner of the Jimmie Skinner Music Center.  He managed the store and also managed Jimmie’s career during Jimmie’s most successful years.  He started the Radio Artist record label in 1947 to record WLW artists and eventually used it as a tool to promote Jimmie Skinner exclusively, releasing 11 records by Jimmie which led to Jimmie getting signed by Capitol Records.

EVANS, DAVE (1950-)         
Dave Evans played banjo for Larry Sparks, eventually starting his own band, River Bend, and recording some of the most soulful vocals ever in Southwestern Ohio bluegrass.  He recorded for Vetco and Rebel.  His “One Loaf Of Bread” is a classic.

EVANS, GERALD JR.  (1959-)    
Son of a professional fiddle player, Gerald Evans grew up in Portsmouth, Ohio, learning to play both fiddle and mandolin.  He worked with the Goins Brothers, Dave Evans, Wayne Lewis, and the Traditional Grass.  In addition to the recordings he did with the Traditional Grass as a group, he and Joe Mullins cut a fiddle and banjo album in the old-time style.  After the Traditional Grass quit the road, Gerald formed his own band, Paradise, based out of Cincinnati.

Tom Ewing was born in Columbus, Ohio, to a father who had aspirations of being a mainstream pop singer and who encouraged Tom when he began to show an interest in music, first folk and then bluegrass.  After high school, Tom played guitar and sang in the country bars around Columbus before landing a job with Earl Taylor’s Stoney Mountain Boys in Cincinnati in 1973 and working as a DJ on WOSU’s “Bluegrass Ramble.”  A great fan of Bill Monroe, he got his chance to work as Bill’s lead singer and guitar player from 1986 to 1996.  After Monroe’s death, he began writing “30 Years Ago This Month” for Bluegrass Unlimited and in 2000 he edited “The Bill Monroe Reader” for the University of Illinois Press.

FARLEY, TAYLOR JR.  (c.1953-    )       
Taylor Farley was born and grew up in the rough and tumble atmosphere of then wide-open Newport, Kentucky.  His father had come from Clay County, Kentucky and along with his uncle and other Kentucky friends and relatives operated several gambling clubs in Newport.  In a dispute with the rival syndicate, Taylor’s father and uncle were gunned down.  His father survived and later evened the score.  As a kid, Taylor would stand outside the Newport clubs and make up to $80 a night running errands for winning gamblers.  His life turned around when he was 10 years  old and he heard Earl Scruggs play “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” for the first time.  After that all he could think about was the banjo and he eventually began playing professionally around the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky area.  In 1987 he organized the group Blue Rock whose name comes from the fact that they mix bluegrass and rock and roll in much the same way as the Earl Scruggs Revue had done.  In 2007 the band consisted of Taylor on banjo, Taylor’s son Spud on acoustic lead and rhythm guitar, Mike Reese on electric lead and rhythm guitar, Jerry Clutter on upright electric bass, and Eddie Napier on drums and percussion.  They have one CD out entitled “Beat This!”.  In 2000 Taylor won an award for “Best Folk/Bluegrass Instrumentalist at Cincinnati’s Cammy Awards show, which annually honors Cincinnati musicians in all fields of music.

Coy Farmer worked with Joe “Cannonball” Lewis, playing rhythm guitar on his bluegrass-flavored recordings and hot lead guitar on his more country recordings.

FLATT, LESTER  (1914-1979)     
Guitarist and lead singer Lester Flatt was born in Sparta, Tennessee.  He appeared with Charlie Monroe’s Kentucky Partners before joining Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys in 1945, the year that all the elements of modern bluegrass came together in that band.  Three years later, Flatt and another member of the band, Earl Scruggs, struck off to form their own group, the Foggy Mountain Boys, which made their first 16 recordings for Mercury in Cincinnati.  After splitting from Earl Scruggs in 1968, Flatt continued to tour and record bluegrass until his death, with his band The Nashville Grass.

A folk music buff, Jeremy Foster attended Antioch College, where he met his future wife, Alice Gerrard.  He turned Alice on to folk music and especially Appalachian-style mountain music.  The two of them presented the Osborne Brothers in the first bluegrass concert on a college campus at Antioch’s Kelly Hall in March of 1960.  Soon after they brought in the Stanley Brothers, and later the Country Gentlemen.

FOX, ARNIM LeROY “CURLY”  (1910-1995)         
Curly Fox was born in Tennessee and became an outstanding fiddle player and showman.  He was at Cincinnati’s WLW on the Boone County Jamboree in the early 1940s and later on the WSM Grand Ole Opry with his wife, “Texas Ruby” Owens.  In the 1930s, he recorded with the Shelton Brothers in a “hot” fiddle style that influenced the early recipe for bluegrass.  Curly recorded fiddle tunes on King and he and Texas Ruby recorded on Columbia and Starday.  He does a great version of “Fire On the Mountain” on King and his in-person versions of “Listen To the Mocking Bird” and “Johnson’s Old Gray Mule” were something to see and hear.

Jon Fox was a knowledgeable and enthusiastic DJ at WYSO in the 1970s.  He relocated to San Francisco and has done some writing on music in recent years as Jon Hartley Fox, including a book on the history of King Records.

Milton Friedman was known as “Little Mickey”  because he was one of the little people.  However, he never let his size slow him down.  He was a professional photographer, owned bars in Dayton, and promoted professional wrestling and music shows.  His bluegrass connection came when he purchased the Friendly Inn on West Third Street, renamed it Little Mickey’s, and continued to feature bluegrass music.  Friedman concluded his career as proprietor of several adult bookstores near downtown Dayton.

GABBARD, HARLEY (1935-2003)        
Harley had an unmistakable style on the dobro and an equally recognizable deep voice.  He worked and/or recorded with Johnny Cash, the Osborne Brothers, Aubrey Holt, Bennie Birchfield, Jim McCall, the Burns Brothers, and as a solo.  His greatest success was when he and his nephews, Aubrey and Jerry Holt, organized the Boys From Indiana and traveled the festival circuit in the 1970s and 1980s.

GADD, PAM (1960-)   
Pam Gadd played banjo for Muddy River.  She was an early member  of the New Coon Creek Girls and later became part of the nationally known all-female country band Wild Rose.  She worked as a harmony singer with Patty Loveless and had a solo career of her own.  Most recently, she has done a duet album with Porter Wagoner.

Alice Gerrard is well-known nationally as one-half of the duo Hazel and Alice, as a member of the Strange Creek Singers and the Harmony Sisters, and as the editor of the Old-Time Herald for 16 years.  Her connection to the Dayton area dates to her college career at Antioch College in Yellow Springs where she and her late husband, Jeremy Foster, organized the first bluegrass concert on a college campus when they brought in the Osborne Brothers on March 5, 1960.

Bobby Gilbert played bass and sang tenor with the Valley Ramblers on both of their Jalyn LPs.

GINTER, OTTO “OTT”         
Ott Ginter was a motivated fan and listener to WPFB in Middletown, Ohio, where he was able to get Bobby Osborne on radio for the first time.  Later he offered to record Bobby, Sonny, and their sister Louise on his Kitty Records label, which was based in Miamisburg, Ohio.  In July of 1951, the recordings were done  on Ginter’s tape recorder in the Osborne farm house on Olt Road near Dayton, Ohio.  From that session Ginter released two 78 rpm singles on Kitty. Peter Kuykendall purchased one, “New Freedom Bell,” in Cincinnati, and played it for the Country Gentlemen, who made it a bluegrass standard later in the 1950s.

The Godbeys are a husband and wife team living in Lexington, Kentucky, where Frank is employed with the University of Kentucky.  Both have been active in the Ohio-Kentucky bluegrass scene for many years.  Frank is a mandolin player who has played and filled in with bands in the central and southwestern Ohio area.  Marty is also a professional photographer and has documented many southwestern Ohio bluegrass performers on stage.  Both have written articles for Bluegrass Unlimited.  Frank indexed the first 20 years of Bluegrass Unlimited and is well-known for his work as moderator of BGRASS-L, an internet bluegrass music discussion list.

GOOD, RICK      
Rick was one of the organizers of the Hotmud Family, playing banjo, guitar, and resonator guitar for the group.  His clawhammer-style banjo and vocalizing are reminiscent of Uncle Dave Macon.  After the breakup of the Hotmud Family, he became involved in acting with the Little Miami Theatre Works, eventually doing a one-man play, “The Last Song of John Profitt.”  He went on to become band leader and co-director with his wife, Sharon Leahy, of the dance and music troupe Rhythm In Shoes.

GREER, JAMES MARVIN “JIM”  (1942-)                  
Jim Greer was born in West Liberty, Ohio, and was singing on the radio with his sisters, Valeda and Bonnie, when he was five years old.  Over the years he learned to play banjo, mandolin, and guitar.  The Greer Sisters with Jim performed primarily around Logan County, but made some appearances at WPFB in Middletown, Ohio.  In 1961 Jim formed the Mac-O-Chee Valley Folks with Valeda, Bob McPherson, and Dalton Burroughs. They disbanded in the 1970s after becoming tired of the road, but had reformed in 2006 and were making appearances around Ohio with Jim on banjo and mandolin.

GRIFFIN, BUDDY  (1948-)  
Born into a family band in Nicholas County, West Virginia, by 1971 Buddy Griffin had learned guitar, bass, banjo, and autoharp.  In 1972, he fell in love with the fiddle when he heard and worked with Joe Meadows.  In 1973 he got a job in the staff band on the WWVA Jamboree in Wheeling, where he came in contact with Landon Williams, who lured him to Cincinnati to play in his band The Hard Times.  He and banjo player Jeff Roberts became friends and band-mates in the Katie Laur Band in 1975.  During the same era, Buddy played with the Goins Brothers as well as gigs with Jeff Roberts.  He later worked as an engineer at Vetco Records in Cincinnati and played in Charlie Sizemore’s band.  He recorded with Mac Wiseman and has worked with Jim & Jesse.  He played in Branson, Missouri, for several years and in 2005 was administering the Bluegrass Music Certification Program at Glenville State College in West Virginia.

A guitar player and singer from Somerset, Kentucky, Willard Hale came to Cincinnati in the late 1950s.  He and Rusty York teamed up to play bluegrass, and later rockabilly, at the Old Hickory and other Cincinnati bars.  They played on Jimmie Skinner’s radio show and made some personal appearances with Jimmie.  In 1959 they recorded three songs which were released on Starday Records.

HALL, LES  (c.1934-2003)             
Les Hall was born in Kentucky and had a career in the Air Force, where he learned to play the banjo.  When he retired from military service he settled in the Dayton, Ohio, area, formed a band called The Bluegrass Mastertone Boys, and went into music full-time.  He cut six singles on Rem Records and one on Snap, along with LPs on Jalyn, Round Robin, and Pittsburgh’s Gateway label.  Health problems forced him to give up full-time music in 1980.

Bob Hamblin led the Dixie Ryders for many years.  Recently, he has worked hard to promote local bluegrass on radio and TV and been involved in various bluegrass programs at Sinclair College.  He has also taken bluegrass to the classroom in cooperation with the Dayton City Schools.

A fiddle player around the Dayton, Ohio, area, Bill Hamilton cut a single on Jalyn with Jack Folk in 1963 or 1964.

HAMILTON, WILLIAM S. "BILLY" (1941-) (CINCINNATI)                    
Billy Hamilton was born in Cincinnati and played mandolin in the Bobby Osborne style.  He was once offered a job with the Osborne Brothers as guitar player and third voice in the trio, but he turned it down.  While attending Yale University he was acquainted with rocker Jerry Garcia while Garcia was still playing bluegrass.  In 2007 he is Professor of Russian and Associate Dean at Wake Forest University.

So nick-named because of his red hair, Peach played mandolin, fiddle, and sang with the Hagan Brothers band around the Dayton and Wilmington, Ohio area.  He guested on the first Hotmud Family LP.  In 1975 he and Greg Dearth left Dayton to work with the Hutchison Brothers band and he eventually ended up in Barnesville, Ohio.  He earned a law degree from Ohio State, worked for the federal court in Atlanta, and moved back to Barnesville to open his own law practice.  In 1990 he organized “Peach’s Little Band” which only plays a couple of times a year and includes Dayton area musicians Barb Kuhns, Linda Scutt, and Greg Dearth, plus musicians from the Barnesville area.  He also plays guitar occasionally with mandolin player Zeke Hutchison, son of one of the original Hutchison Brothers.

Born near Marion, Virginia, Bill Harrell worked around the Virginia-Washington D.C. area for decades.  He became better known around southwestern Ohio when he teamed with Don Reno to sing lead and play guitar after Don’s split with Red Smiley.  They cut LPs for King, King Bluegrass, and Jalyn in this area.  After Red Smiley rejoined the group, the three of them continued until Red’s death in 1971.  Some of their final recordings were cut in Columbus, Ohio, issued on Jack Casey’s Rome Records, and in 2006 reissued on Rebel Records.

HARVEY, DAVID  (c.1958-)           
David is Dorsey Harvey’s son and, as a result, grew up listening to people like Red Allen and Frank Wakefield, who would come over to play with his dad.  He learned to play both mandolin and fiddle and play them well.  When he was 14 years old, he played some shows with Red Allen, and at 17 he started playing full-time with the Falls City Ramblers in Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.  He played again with Red Allen and then moved to Colorado to help start a bluegrass, jazz, and swing ensemble called the Reasonable Band.  Returning to Dayton, he worked with Larry Sparks where his jazzy/bluesy feel on the fiddle and mandolin fit very well with Larry’s soulful guitar playing.  In 1989 he, his wife Jan, and her sister Jill, formed Wild and Blue and played together for 12 years.  After that, he played with Larry Cordle and helped to record the bluegrass hit, “Murder On Music Row.”  He played with Harley Allen for a while, produced the highly regarded album “Moody Bluegrass” for Rounder, and in 2006 was playing in Claire Lynch’s band.  David currently operates a fiddle shop in Nashville.

HARVEY, DORSEY ”LITTLE DAVID”  (1935-1988)        
Dorsey, a native of  Irvine, Kentucky, was a contemporary of Red Allen and Frank Wakefield and a talented mandolin player.  However, he chose not to leave Dayton to seek his fame and fortune as they did.  In the late 1970s, Ken Davidson prevailed upon him to record an LP on Poca River Records to showcase his talent on the mandolin.  Dorsey, along with Fred Bartenstein, Sherrill Jennings, and Glen “Cookie” Inman, played the Dayton area for a time as the Dorsey Harvey Band.

HENSLEY, WALTER  (1936-)       
Best known around the Baltimore area, Walter Hensley worked at the Ken-Mill in Cincinnati for a while as banjo player with Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys.  He cut a major label LP on Capitol and others on Rebel and Revonah.

A long-time associate of Kentucky legends Asa Martin and James (Carson) Roberts, Shorty Hobbs was playing mandolin and singing with Martin on Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana, in the early 1930s.  In the 1940s, he was at Renfro Valley and did a comedy act with “Little Eller Long.”  In the late 1940s, he came to Middletown, Ohio, to appear on WPFB radio as a performer and DJ.  Bobby Osborne played in a band with Shorty and Chuck Swain in his early days at WPFB.

Fairley Holden was part of Smokey Ward’s Barrelhead Gang at WPFB in Middletown.  He was a dynamic performer and probably had as much to do with popularizing Jimmie Skinner’s  “Doin’ My Time” as Jimmie did; it was on one side of the Barrelhead Gang record and he sang it at most of his personal appearances.  He recorded also for King and some of the Renfro Valley labels, but he was one of those performers who came across much better in person.  He was a part of  the Corny Four Quartet, a gospel group with a sound similar to Shannon Grayson’s Golden Valley Boys.  The other members were Smokey Ward and the Osborne Brothers, when Smokey was running the WPFB Jamboree at the National Guard Armory in Middletown.  When the Osborne Brothers moved to Detroit, Fairley went along as part of their band.  He eventually left the music business and went home to Georgia.

HOLT, AUBREY  (1938-)     
Aubrey Holt is one of the finest songwriters ever in bluegrass music.  After playing  bluegrass and rockabilly with his uncle Harley Gabbard in the 1950s and 1960s, he became the lead singer and guitar player for the Boys From Indiana in the 1970s and 1980s, and has appeared as a guest with the Wildwood Valley Boys in the 2000s.  He wrote “Atlanta Is Burning”, “Play Hank’s Song Once Again”,  “One More Bluegrass Show Tonight,” “Shaking the Grate,” and many other songs.

HOLT, HERMAN          
The Holt brothers played in many of the bluegrass bands around Dayton.  They recorded with Dewey and Bill Marcum as the Kentucky Mountaineers.  Delbert worked with the Bluegrass Special and later with the Dixie Ryders.  As the Boys From Hyden, he and Bill Howard cut the locally popular “Trail Of the Balogna (sic) Rind.”  Herman played with Jed Raleigh and the Country Cut-Ups and other bands.

HOLT, JERRY  (1941-)         
Aubrey’s brother and Harley Gabbard’s nephew, Jerry Holt played bass and sang the high harmony with the Boys From Indiana.

HOPKINS, GARY         
Gary Hopkins was a volunteer DJ at WYSO and played bass and tuba(!) with the Hotmud Family and later married their guitarist/lead vocalist, Suzanne Thomas.  He is currently playing bass with the Beacons, a gospel bluegrass group.

John and Robert Hutchison performed together around Dayton as The Hutchison Brothers, along with Greg Dearth on fiddle, “Peach” Hampton on mandolin, and Timothy Sparkman on bass.  John played guitar and appeared as a solo performer around the country before joining with his younger brother “Zeke” to form a band which won the band contest at the Bean Blossom festival in the early 1970s


Tom Kopp
Miami University
President, Bgrass Board of Trustees

Bgrass, Inc.
P.O. Box 19253
Cincinnati, Ohio 45219-0253

Tax exempt 501(c) 3 organization

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