Joe Mullins: The Story We Tell is a must have

One of my favorite talented bluegrass friends Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers has an amazing new CD entitled The Story We Tell from Rebel Records. The band’s sixth CD in seven years brings together a vibrant collection of songs that when heard, work together like chapters from a well-worn literary classic.

Filled with new songs from some of today’s top songwriters including Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley, Ronnie Bowman, Steve Bonafel, and Raleigh Satterwhite, alongside forgotten gems the band dusted off from such varied sources as The Delmore Brothers, Merle Haggard, and The Browns, the balance achieved on The Story We Tell flows through the speakers like tuning in to your favorite radio broadcast — a claim only befitting of the reigning IBMA Broadcaster of the Year, Joe Mullins.

“We gathered a very diverse set of songs, heavy on new material from great writers, allowing us to tell several types of stories — tales of fun, family, fiddlers, faith, felons, and one funeral … real bluegrass,” banjo player Joe Mullins.
And if the lead off track and first single, “Long Gone Out West Blues,” debuted on Bluegrass Today’s Top 20 Songs chart, maintaining a strong presence for five consecutive weeks.

Featuring Mullins alongside bluegrass veterans Mike Terry (mandolin), Jason Barie (fiddle), Randy Barnes (bass), and Duane Sparks (guitar), The Story We Tell showcases the band’s most inventive and innovative arrangements to date, both vocally and instrumentally on 12 tracks. With an approach to the music that rings with authenticity, the band secures a rightful place among the traditional guard of bluegrass while standing comfortably shoulder to shoulder with more progressive type artists who find themselves drawn to not only JMRR’s music, but their down-home, likable nature.
In the album’s liner notes, journalist Craig Havighurst brings The Story We Tell and its authors to one solid conclusion: “Joe and his superb band with its diverse strengths and multiple lead vocalists have patiently carved out a special place in the national scene. They’ve won some awards that you can look up, though fewer than they deserve and fewer than they will over time. What matters more is that Joe’s steady contributions and excellent performances are accumulating, year in and out. So is a larger story of an artist who’ll tend to traditional music for decades, something we very much need as the genre widens. Just remember that Joe and his band mates are standing sentinel over something even more profound than the cultural creation we cherish as bluegrass. They’re giving us all tuneful, truthful reasons to have faith in the future of the country.”

The Story We Tell is available for digital download at iTunesGoogle Play, and Amazon. Consumers may also order The Story We Tell direct from Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers at

Cardboard Fox creates some sturdy musical sounds

Often as an entertainer, I get the chance to share some time with other talented musicians. I was afforded that opportunity recently while spending a couple of hours with a talented group of musicians from England.


Cardboard Fox

While I heard them jamming with a different line up than their norm with their bassist playing banjo, the sounds of Cardboard Fox impressed me.

The band is made up of John Breese on double bass and vocals; Charlotte Carrivick on guitar and vocals; Laura Carrivick on fiddle and vocals; and Joe Tozer on mandolin.

Cardboard Fox is fast becoming one of the most exciting young acts on UK the acoustic scene.

The band’s unique blend of modern folk and progressive bluegrass, combined with original song writing and energetic performances, is giving them a growing presence on the UK Folk

and acoustic music circuit.

I was able to listen to the 2015 Spiral Earth award winner’s latest CD – “Out of Mind.”

The project features ten originals and three covers.

While not conventional bluegrass, the music is amazingly offered and sure to appeal to listeners in every age bracket but especially those who look for a unique mix of present and past in their tastes.

Between them, the band have contributed eight original songs and two tunes to ‘Out of Mind’.

The two tunes featured are Joe Tozer’s ‘Gone, Not Forgotten’ and Charlotte Carrivick’s high–‐octane fiddle tune, ‘Hiding in Hi Vis’. Spread across the album are also three covers, perhaps the

Most surprising being Ingrid Michaelson’s pop hit, ‘Girls Chase Boys’. The band have also included a subtly re-harmonized version of Dirk Powell’s ‘Waterbound’ and a bluegrassy cover

Of the famous Bob Dylan song, ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’. The original songs range

From acoustic pop with catchy riffs (‘More Than You and Me’, ‘Out of Sight is Out of Mind’), to

Modern bluegrass, with the addition of John’s banjo playing on ‘Couldn’t Find the Time’ and


Cardboard Fox jams at the IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, N.C.

Twin fiddling on ‘I’ve Gotta Run’. The band’s signature mandolin, fiddle, guitar and double bass line up is augmented on ‘Felicity’ with an electric ‘Fun Machine’ organ, which turned up on the street outside Joe’s house while the band were in the studio.

Recorded and produced by Josh Clark at Get Real Audio (Miranda Sykes & Rex Preston, Damien O’Kane, Nizlopi) in Bath, mastered by Nick Cooke (Kate Rusby, False Lights)

The group has performed at festivals across the UK and Mainland Europe, performing at Glastonbury and showcasing at the English Folk Expo and European World of

Bluegrass Festival. They traveled to the U.S. to appear at the IBMA World of Bluegrass.

I want to encourage you to check out their CD on iTunes, amazon, and Spotify. You can visit their website, and find them on social media,,

Director/Actor Randall Franks to direct IBMA Awards segment

Randall Franks will direct a segment of the annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards Show featuring the Distinguished Achievement Awards.

“Bluegrass music is one of my greatest loves,” he said. “Playing a part in honoring the greats of our industry for their lifetime of commitment, as well as those we recognize for their special industry awards is an outstanding honor.”

Recognized as an International Bluegrass Music Museum Legend for his work with over 30 hall of famers including the legendary Father of Bluegrass Bill Monroe, Franks is also known as an actor/director around the world. Franks, who appeared as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night,” has directed documentaries, music productions for television, stage plays, and dozens of hours of new media content. Franks starred in three TV series and 15 films with his latest film “Broken” starring with Soren Fulton and Joe Stevens.

Franks returns for his fourth year of directing working alongside segment producer Tom Kopp. The IBMA Awards Show are Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, N.C. This special segment of the IBMA Awards Show including the Distinguished Achievement Awards, the organization’s second highest career honor, and its industry awards are presented at the Raleigh Convention Center earlier in the day.

“It is a pleasure to work with Tom Kopp and the IBMA staff who bring together a wonderful and always moving presentation for this segment,” Franks said “I often find myself being pulled into the moment along with the recipient during their acceptance speech sometimes choking up right along with them.”

Franks became a bluegrass and country music personality as a youth beginning appearances at major country, folk, bluegrass and gospel events such as Country Music Association Fan Fair, National Folk Festival, National Quartet Convention, World of Bluegrass, National Black Arts Festival and for the Grand Ole Opry. With 24 career albums in four genres, he has performed to over 145 million fans around the world. Musically, he is an Independent Country Music Hall of Fame member. His latest CD is “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” featuring Christian music and comedy.

Learn more about Franks connections to bluegrass,

Franks highlights many of his music heroes in his Encouragers book series, the latest in the series is “Encouragers III: A Guiding Hand” which include these bluegrass personalities: Eddie and Martha Adcock, Kenny Baker, Byron Berline, Jerry and Helen Burke, Vassar Clements, Peanut Faircloth, John and Debbie Farley, Otis Head, Bobby Hicks, Bill Monroe, and Tater Tate.

For more information about the IBMA Awards visit

Actor/Entertainer/Author Randall Franks honored at 42nd Annual A.S.E. Awards

Entertainer Randall Franks was among the recent honorees at the 42nd annual Atlanta Society of Entertainers Awards receiving the Bluegrass Band of the Year Award with his Georgia Mafia Bluegrass Band.

Franks, who is best known as “Officer Randy Goode” from the TV series “In the Heat of the Night,” starred in three TV series and 15 films. Musically, he is recognized as an International Bluegrass Music Museum Legend and Independent Country Music Hall of Fame inductee.

“Performing among some of the best performers in our state in many genres is a great honor,” Franks said. “It is such a blessing to do it with a talented group of performers in their own right. I know each of us are thankful for the recognition that what we do is touching others.”

A.S.E. executive co-director Phyllis Cole (left) presents Bluegrass Band of the Year to Randall Franks (fourth from left) and the Georgia Mafia Bluegrass Band – from left, Pete Hatfield, Jerry Burke, Helen Burke, J. Max McKee, and Rick Smith. (Photo: JLynne Photography)

A.S.E. executive co-director Phyllis Cole (left) presents Bluegrass Band of the Year to Randall Franks (fourth from left) and the Georgia Mafia Bluegrass Band – from left, Pete Hatfield, Jerry Burke, Helen Burke, J. Max McKee, and Rick Smith. (Photo: JLynne Photography)

Appearing as part of the Georgia Mafia Bluegrass Band were Pete Hatfield and Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame members – Jerry and Helen Burke, Rick Smith, Dean Marsh and J. Max McKee.

Organized for a special PBS TV appearance in 2009, the band still receives requests for appearances, Franks said.


See Randall Franks and the Georgia Mafia Bluegrass Band on YouTube with “The Old Black Fiddle”

The group which is made up of members of several other acts will be included on Randall’s upcoming “30 Years on Radio and TV Volume II” CD from the Share America Foundation, Inc. expected out in November. The CD will raise funds for the Pearl and Floyd Franks Scholarship encouraging youth in Appalachian music.

Franks became a country music personality as a youth beginning appearances at major country, folk, bluegrass and gospel events such as Country Music Association Fan Fair, National Folk Festival, National Quartet Convention, National Black Arts Festival and for the Grand Ole Opry. With 24 career albums in four genres, his latest is “Keep ‘Em Smilin’” He has performed to over 145 million fans around the world.  He is a syndicated newspaper columnist featured across the Southern and Midwestern U.S. and an author with eight books including his “Encouragers III: A Guiding Hand” releasing this week.

Some among the genres and entertainers performing and receiving honors at the event were Jazz – Joey Stuckey; Western Swing – The Junction Band; Blues – The Danny Miller Band and The Mike Watson Band; Classic Country – Highridge; Comedy Bluegrass – The McKee Family Band; Traditional Country – Donna Robinson and Friends with special guest Katie Deal; Bluegrass Gospel – Hickory Wind Bluegrass; Contemporary Country – David Gardner; and Southern Rock – Southern Breeze ATL.

Country musician Jerry Braswell, who performed with numerous stars from Porter Wagoner to Ernest Tubb, received the Lifetime Achievement Award and Horizon Award winner was banjo stylist Landon Fitzpatrick.

Some other performers included Lorraine Guth Parker, Danny Gardner; Mitzie Gardner; Greta Hopkins; and Megan Burke.

Foggy Mountain Troubadour – Curly Seckler inspires

“First you cross the tie over this way and pull it back around and then…,” is how I remember Curly Seckler describing to me how to tie a string tie as he wore on stage. A lesson shared in my youth from a musical hero whose tenor voice soared in my mind as I listened to Flatt and Scruggs, and the Nashville Grass. I had convinced my mother to take me to see Curly in Nashville at an earlier point because I wanted to meet him and we searched out his home in a trailer park and went up one day and knocked on the door. He was so gracious to welcome us and share some time with an aspiring youth. He recounted this visit many years later at my mother’s home going service.

Sometime later as a bashful young fiddle player, I stepped to the concert area of the Lavonia Bluegrass Festival and find a place on a wood bench and peered up at the stage as the emcee prepared to bring on The Nashville Grass.
By the time my musical ability began to advance, the legendary Lester Flatt was ailing so I never got to see him perform except on TV or listening by radio before his passing on 1979, but on this day, I was going to see his band, the Nashville Grass perform. They were the closest link to the music which fueled my passion for bluegrass. As best I recall, Tater Tate was on fiddle, Blake Williams was playing banjo, Charlie Nixon on Dobro, Pete Corum on bass and the amazing Curly Seckler leading the troupe.
The music electrified my soul. After the show, I made my way backstage and once again was welcomed by a man who truly became one of my dearest friends in life.
A few weeks ago I received in the mail from University of Illinois Press Penny Parson’s book “Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler” and I found myself once again feeling like that youth anxiously standing outside the door waiting to see one of my heroes.
As I looked inside and devoured the 239-page excursion walking along the path of the development of American hillbilly music that eventually became what we know as country, bluegrass, and Appalachian folk music, I was deeply impressed with Parson’s great depth of narrative, her enthusiastic approach to the inclusion of research which set the story in history; and the variety of interviews with notable performers and everyday folks who played a part that propels the story forward.
Curly, an International Bluegrass Music Hall of Famer, who is now retired at the age of 96 living with his wife Eloise outside Nashville saw the industry’s growth looking out of a car, bus and truck window mile after mile along the two lane roads crisscrossing America. He saw the American people from the stages of tent shows, movie theaters, the roofs of drive-in theater concession stands, courthouses, school houses, auditoriums, music festivals, and radio barn dances going by many names including the Grand Ole Opry. He helped sell two of America’s consumer staples Martha White flour and corn meal.
I learned more about his professional approach that opened doors for other legends like the Stanley Brothers, Jim and Jesse McReynolds and so many others. How his musical and vocal ability kept him always within sight of another opportunity around the corner with yet another group or musician which contributed so much in their own right to our musical experience. The book details his musical intersections with artists such as Charlie Monroe, Bill Monroe, Ramblin’ “Doc” Tommy Scott, the Sauceman Brothers, Shenandoah Valley Cutups, Steep Canyon Rangers, and countless others.
The depth of his experience and relationship with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the other key Foggy Mountain Boys sets in stone his place of honor as the final surviving 1940s and 50s member of the Foggy Mountain Boys. In case, that doesn’t ring a bell, he was one of the musicians who inspired Paul Henning to feature Flatt and Scruggs music on “The Beverly Hillbillies,” making the group’s stars a household name.
“Foggy Mountain Troubadour” is a must read for anyone who would like a window into the world of the American South, the rise or country music and its early stars, and especially to gain an appreciation for an American musical treasure – Curly Seckler.

Music DVD – Concert of Celebration

Concert of Celebration DVDMusic DVD – Concert of Celebration

$25 Donation

Share America Foundation, Inc. features in the 2012 release a cast of music stars and legends Starring Randall Franks with Guest Stars (In order of appearance) Paul Brown, The Marksmen Quartet, John and Debbie Farley, Ramblin’ “Doc” Tommy Scott, and Luke McLuke, Curly Seckler, Charlie “Peanut” Faircloth with the Trust Jesus Singers, Chubby Wise,  David Davis, Johnny Counterfit, Gary Waldrep, Barney Miller, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys, Butch Lanham, Doodle and the Golden River Grass,  Dale Tilley, Jesse McReynolds, Johnnie Sue, and Nelson Richardson. Two Hours of Entertainment, 29 Musical Performances including these favorites and more:
Ain’t Gonna Study War ♫ Amazing Grace ♫ Grandpa Was A Farmer  ♫ How Great Thou Art ♫ Wayfaring Stranger ♫ Crying My Heart Out For You ♫ You Can’t Stop Time ♫ Lord, I Am Coming Home ♫ When the Saints Go Marching In ♫ Golden Slippers ♫ Farther Along ♫ The Way Is In God’s Hands ♫ The Other Side of Heaven ♫ Cripple Creek  ♫ In the Garden ♫ Swing Low, Sweet Chariot ♫ You Better Get Ready ♫ Back Up And Push ♫ When They Ring Those Golden Bells for You and Me ♫ What a Friend We Have in Jesus ♫  The Old Gospel Ship ♫ Meet Me in Heaven ♫ I Want to Go There

Two Hours of Entertainment, 29 Musical Performances featuring a host of stars raising funds for the Share America Foundation, Inc. available for a $25 donation.

Randall Franks – Mountain Opry Memories

Mountain Opry Memories cover4Randall Franks – Mountain Opry Memories

$16 Donation

Randall Franks Mountain Opry Memories from Share America Foundation/Crimson Records
Musicians included on various performances:  Randall Franks – Fiddle & Guitar Terry Hatfield – Guitar, Brian Blaylock – Mandolin,  Stacy Wilcox – Banjo, Randy Pryor – Bass, Tom Adkins – Fiddle, Ken Holloway – Guitar,  John De Grote – Bass, David Davis – Mandolin, Charlie “Peanut” Faircloth – Harmonica, Charles Chambers – Guitar,  Joe Chambers – Guitar, Rocky Ramsey – Guitar, Gary Denham – Bass, Jimmy Givens – Banjo, Merielle Flood – Bass, Cody Harvey – Banjo, Mike Holloway – Bass, Wil Markham – Fiddle, Colin Mabry – Guitar,  Tyler Martelli – Harmonica & Mandolin, Austin Adkins – Guitar
Fire on the Mountain – 1999 *, Send Me the Pillow – 1999, A Tunnel Runs Through It – 2001, Crawdad Song – 2003 *, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – 2001 **   with David Davis,  Boil Dem Cabbage Down – 2001 *, Sparta Impound Blues  – 1999, The Old Black Fiddle – 2001 *, Sweet Woman Blues – 1999, Faded Love – 2001, Red River Valley – 2003 *, The Kind of Love I Can’t Forget – 2001  with Peanut Faircloth, Turkey in the Straw – 2001 *, Foggy Mountain Breakdown – 2010  with Mountain Cove Bluegrass,   Ya’ll Come – 1999, Orange Blossom Special – 1999

Randall Franks shares impromptu music recorded live at the Mountain Opry on Signal Mountain in Tennessee near Chattanooga in this recording produced by Tom Adkins and Tom Morgan to raise funds for the Share America Foundation, Inc. Available for a $15 donation.


Randall Franks – Golden River Fiddlin’

goldenriverRandall Franks  – Golden River Fiddlin’

$14 plus $2 S&H

Golden River Fiddlin’

Available in Crimson Records CD
Randall Franks and the Golden River Grass
John “Doodle” Thrower, James Watson, Wesley Clackum, Gene Daniell, and guest Sue Koskela
Crimson RG 2760 (1989)
featuring Ragtime Annie, Maiden’s Prayer, Back Up and Push, Precious Memories,
The Pilgrimage (to Bethlehem) (Randall Franks), Durham’s Bull, Old Rosin the Bow
Faded Love, Mississippi Sawyer, Orange Blossom Special

Randall Franks shares a collection of Southern folk fiddle favorites performed with the Golden River Grass.

Randall Franks – Peach Picked Fiddle Favorites

PeachPickedfrontcopysmallRandall Franks – Peach Picked Fiddle Favorites

$14 plus $2 S&H

Peach Picked Fiddle Favorites Available in Crimson Records CD
Randall Franks The Peachtree Pickers and Guests
Other performers: Greg Earnest, Lyndon Kolb, Mark Nelson and guests Eugene Akers and John Farley
Crimson leased initially to Atteiram API C-1646 (1985)
featuring Fire On the Mountain, Festival Waltz, Bonaparte’s Retreat, Arab Bounce, Liberty, Craven’s Reel (Randall Franks), Champagne Polka, Kiss Me Waltz, Cherokee Shuffle, More Pretty Girls Than One, Wheel Hoss,
Hamilton County Breakdown, Old Joe Clark

Appalachian Ambassador of the Fiddle Randall Franks performs several popular fiddle tunes with his Peachtree Pickers.

Randall Franks – Pick of the Peaches Fiddlin’

PickofPeachesfrontsmallRandall Franks – Pick of the Peaches Fiddlin’

$14 plus $2 S&H

Randall Franks The Peachtree Pickers and Friends
Crimson Records leased initially to Atteiram API-C-1634 (1986)
Other performers: Greg Earnest, Keith Morris, Mark Nelson and guests Eugene Akers, James Watson and Mark Wheeler
featuring Gloryland March, Rose of Sharon, Katy Hill, Jerusalem Ridge,
Bully of the Town, Florida Blues, Shortenin’ Bread, What a Friend, Boil Dem Cabbage Down, Angie’s Waltz (Randall Franks), Stone Mountain March, Black Eyed Suzy

Blue Grass Boy Randall Franks shares fiddle tunes taught to him by Bill Monroe and other fiddle favorites in this unique musical collection.