Washington, D.C. (March 19, 2024) — Three years after its original release on compact disc and streaming services, Smithsonian Folkways is announcing a special DOUBLE VINYL LP SET of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Album of the Year (2021), Industrial Strength Bluegrass. This all-star project set, which tells the story of bluegrass’ transformation from a music to a movement carried north by Appalachians seeking a better life in the booming post-WWII factories of Southwest Ohio, will be released May 3rd. The new vinyl edition includes the original 16-song collection PLUS seven bonus archival tracks.

Industrial Strength Bluegrass was produced by IBMA Award-winning musician, bandleader, broadcaster and event producer Joe Mullins, whose father – fiddler, radio personality and Bluegrass Hall of Famer Paul “Moon” Mullins – made that journey and helped found the region’s bluegrass scene. The compilation (companion to a book of the same title from University of Illinois Press) presents Southwest Ohio bluegrass classics remade by an all-star cast featuring Country Music Hall of Famers the Oak Ridge Boys and Vince Gill, Bluegrass Hall of Fame members Bobby Osborne and Doyle Lawson, and many of today’s finest bluegrass and Americana artists including Lee Ann Womack, Dan Tyminski, The Isaacs, Russell Moore, Sierra Hull, and more. The additional seven tracks, courtesy of Rebel Records, help deepen the narrative of this epochal period in bluegrass with archival recordings by The Traditional Grass, The Hotmud Family, Dave Evans, The Boys From Indiana, and Bluegrass Hall of Fame members Red Allen, Larry Sparks, and The Stanley Brothers.

As the factories of southwestern Ohio hummed with activity during the middle decades of the 20th century, they not only powered the nation’s economy but also served as magnets for hundreds of thousands of migrants from Appalachia. Among these migrants were numerous talented musicians whose melodies would come to define the region’s cultural landscape. Every Friday, crowds either headed “down home” or to local bars in cities like Cincinnati and Dayton, where bluegrass bands played fervently to homesick Kentuckians.

Recording studios and radio stations offered careers, but the defining sound of Southwest Ohio bluegrass was created in bars. There, musicians and fans formed the first real bluegrass community, and that spirit of adventure in every migrant leaving home for a new life found its way into the music. Southwest Ohio bluegrass was a unique combination of deep tradition and game-changing innovation.

Producer and performer Joe Mullins saw the archival artists performing these songs around the time they were recorded. “My bluegrass journey has been a lifetime labor of love. I live 6 miles from the auditorium where the first bluegrass college concert was held, and where the Stanley Brothers track in the ISB vinyl set was recorded. Adding in classic bluegrass from our neighborhood was so exciting, and these older recordings connect perfectly to the songs we recorded for the 2021 release. The tunes and artists added from the past 60 plus years represent the foundation of Ohio’s bluegrass traditions; industrial strength then and now!”

The double vinyl set of Industrial Strength Bluegrass has expanded liner notes contributed by Joe’s son and co-producer, Daniel Mullins, also a journalist and third generation radio broadcaster, and will be available via Smithsonian Folkways beginning May 3rd. A limited number of advance copies will be available for purchase at the Industrial Strength Bluegrass Festival happening March 21st through 23rd in Wilmington, OH. For more information visit folkways.si.edu.

Track List (*denotes bonus track)
Side A
1. Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23 – Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers
2. Are You Missing Me – Dailey & Vincent
3. 20/20 Vision – Dan Tyminski
4. You’ll Never Be The Same – The Traditional Grass*
5. Baby Blue Eyes – Vince Gill
6. When He Blessed My Soul – Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Side B
1. Barefoot Nellie – Jim Lauderdale and High Fidelity
2. Once More – The Grascals
3. Mountain Strings – Sierra Hull
4. Stone Wall – Red Allen & The Allen Brothers*
5. Suzanne – Mo Pitney and Merle Monroe
6. The Singer – The Hotmud Family*

Side C
1. Larry Sparks Medley: Dark Hollow/A Face In The Crowd/These Old Blues – Josh Williams, Bradley Walker and Russell Moore
2. Ninety-Nine Years Is Almost for Life – Dave Evans*
3. Garden Tomb – The Isaacs and The Oak Ridge Boys
4. He’s Everything to Me – Larry Sparks*
5. From Life’s Other Side – Lee Ann Womack

Side D
1. I’m Bound to Ride – The Stanley Brothers*
2. Stone Walls and Steel Bars – Ronnie Bowman, Don Rigsby, and Kenny Smith
3. Shakin’ the Grate – The Boys From Indiana*
4. Family Reunion – Rhonda Vincent and Caleb Daugherty
5. The Rolling Mills of Middletown – Larry Cordle
6. We’ll Head Back to Harlan – Bobby Osborne

About Smithsonian Folkways
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the “National Museum of Sound,” makes available close to 60,000 tracks in physical and digital format as the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian, with a reach of 80 million people per year. A division of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the non-profit label is dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among people through the documentation, preservation, production and dissemination of sound. Its mission is the legacy of Moses Asch, who founded Folkways Records in 1948 to document “people’s music” from around the world. For more information about Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, visit folkways.si.edu.

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