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Red Allen, Frank Wakefield & The Kentuckians

With a high lonesome sound heavily influenced by Bill and Charlie Monroe, Red Allen quietly took his place as one of the most talented and underrated bluegrass artists of the post-World War II era. Born in Perry County, KY, he later made his mark not far from there, first landing in Dayton, OH, at the age of 19 in 1949 after a two-year stint in the Marines. In Ohio, he became acquainted with several other musicians whom he would later collaborate with, including Frank Wakefield, the Osborne Brothers and Noah Crase. In 1954, he made his recording debut on an independent Kentucky label. In March 1956, he began an incredibly fruitful partnership with the Osborne Brothers, shortly after they had signed on with the Wheeling Jamboree, a popular radio show broadcast from the Virginia Theater in Wheeling, WV. Four months after he joined the group, they made their first recording with MGM Records, and built their audience over the next year by a steady program of touring and recording. In the spring of 1958, their song, "Once More," hit number 13 on the country charts and helped earn the band a steady following. Allen left the Osborne Brothers at the end of 1958 and took a brief break from recording before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1959 and forming the Kentuckians with Wakefield. Their relationship was extremely fruitful creatively, but ultimately too tumultuous to sustain for long, and after producing a classic album in 1964 for Smithsonian Folkways simply titled Bluegrass, they parted ways.

In 1967, Allen moved to Nashville to relieve a temporarily ailing Lester Flatt in Flatt & Scruggs. The next year he and J.D. Crowe founded the Kentucky Mountain Boys. In 1969, Allen went back to Dayton and formed a band with his sons known as Red Allen & the Allen Brothers. With his boys, he found himself again on the Wheeling Jamboree, also recording for King Bluegrass and Lemco. The '70s brought international touring for Allen but little recording. In 1979, he issued another album for Smithsonian Folkways with the Kentuckians entitled Live and Let Live. In 1980, he issued a tribute to Lester Flatt titled In Memory of the Man, and followed that album with two more recordings for Folkways, 1981's Red Allen Family & Friends and 1983's The Red Allen Tradition. Throughout the rest of the '80s and early '90s, Allen typically stayed a little closer to home, playing clubs and festivals near Dayton until his death from cancer in 1993. In 2001, Folkways issued The Folkways Years: 1964-1983, which was essentially a reissue of the 1964 Bluegrass album, plus six previously unreleased songs and a number of tracks from Allen's four other Folkways albums. The collection helped highlight some of the high points in Allen's long career, and showcased his remarkable talent as a bluegrass vocalist and guitarist. ~ Stacia Proefrock
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Classic Bluegrass From Smithsonian Folkways

1. White House Blues

2. Our Last Goodbye (Live)

3. When He Reached Down His Hand For Me (Live)

4. Tiny Broken Heart

5. New Camptown

6. Suzanne

7. I Heard My Mother Call My Name In Prayer

8. Teardrops In My Eyes (Live)

9. Cumberland Gap

10. Live And Let Live

11. The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise

12. Hello City Limits

13. (Legend Of The) Brown Mountain Light (Live)

14. Lonesome Road Blues

15. The Train That Carried My Girl From Town

16. The Little Girl And The Dreadful Snake

17. Little Birdie (Live)

18. Rabbit In A Log (Live)

19. Grey Eagle

20. Wayfaring Stranger

21. Billy In The Lowground (Live)

22. The Rebel Girl

23. Train 45

24. 'Neath That Cold Grey Tomb Of Stone

25. Get Up John

x

Track List: Classic Bluegrass Vol. 2

1. Blue Grass Breakdown

2. Roving Gambler

3. Daniel Prayed

4. Fourteen-Carat Mind

5. Won't You Come And Sing For Me?

6. Rocky Run

7. The Girl Behind The Bar

8. Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me

9. Are You Afraid To Die?

10. Walls Of Time

11. Back Up And Push (Live)

12. I've Endured

13. Carolina In The Pines

14. Jesse James

15. Two Orphans

16. China Grove, My Home Town

17. Bluegrass Spectacular

18. Stoney Creek (Live)

19. Little Maggie

20. Miss Ferris

21. Foggy Mountain Top

22. Sinner, You Better Get Ready

23. Sitting On Top Of The World

24. Renegade

25. Possum Holler

26. Red Wing

27. I'll Take The Blame

28. Watson's Blues (Live)

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