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Reno & Smiley

Don Reno, Red Smiley, and the Tennessee Cut-Ups were a bluegrass band of such high quality that they gave serious competition to Flatt & Scruggs in the '50s. Reno, an unsurpassed master of the banjo, played for Bill Monroe in 1948, replacing Earl Scruggs. With a smooth and mellow baritone, Smiley made a perfect partner to Reno, singing lead to his high harmony part. Reno's incredible talent carried over to guitar playing and songwriting. Among his compositions are the exquisite "Emotions" as well as "Feuding Banjos," the unforgettable song in the film Deliverance, co-written with Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith. You don't know the five-string banjo if you haven't heard Reno.

Reno and Smiley both grew up in different rural sections of North Carolina and both played with the Morris Brothers at different times in their formative early years. After both men served in separate divisions of the Army during World War II, and after they were discharged they played in a variety of country bands -- Reno even did a stint with Monroe after Scruggs left the Blue Grass Boys in 1948 -- before they met each other in December 1949. Both musicians were recruited by fiddler Tommy Magness to play in his band the Tennessee Buddies. In the summer of 1950, the pair began playing duets together. After cutting a few singles with Magness for King Records (which were eventually released on Federal) in the spring of 1951, they left the fiddler and began working with Toby Stroud's Blue Mountain Boys in Roanoke, VA. In the fall of that year, the pair finally formed their own band, the Tennessee Cut-Ups.

Initially, Reno & Smiley found it difficult to land jobs in Virginia and South Carolina. Nevertheless, they cut several sides for King early in 1952. Before those singles were issued, the duo had already split up, simply because they couldn't find work. Once the records did appear, they sold fairly well, and King's owner, Syd Nathan, convinced the duo to continue recording, even if they weren't actively performing. For the next three years, they made assorted records for King while Reno played with Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith and Smiley worked as a mechanic. On the first batch of recordings, they were supported by musicians like Jimmy Lunsford and Tommy Faile. By November 1954, they were allowed to use their longtime backing musicians, fiddler Mack Magaha and bassist John Palmer.

In the spring of 1955, Reno & Smiley reunited as a performing duo and soon landed a regular gig on WRVA's Old Dominion Barn Dance. Within a year, they were secured a daily morning television show in Roanoke as well as various shows for a station in Harrisonburg, VA. The pair made a handful of recordings for Dot in 1957, but they continued their relationship with King until 1964, recording a wealth of material.

At the end of 1964, Reno & Smiley parted ways. Smiley had been slowly suffering from diabetes and no longer wanted to travel; consequently, he continued to do the television show in Roanoke, but only occasionally toured. By spring 1968, he had completely retired. Reno played with a few bands before teaming up with Bill Harrell in 1966 -- Harrell would be his first true partner since Smiley, but he wouldn't be his last. For nearly two decades, Reno remained active in the bluegrass community, cutting numerous records and playing with a variety of collaborators. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine & David Vinopal
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Don Reno & Red Smiley And The Tennessee Cut-Ups 1959-1963

Disc 1

4. Jesus Will Save Your Soul

5. I Feel Like Traveling On

6. Lord's Last Supper

7. Little Country Preacher

9. He Will Set Your Fields On Fire

10. Whispering Hope

13. Bells Of Saint Mary's

14. Steel Guitar Rag

15. Tennessee Stomp

16. Pick And Hold

17. Down On The Farm

18. Love, Please Come Home

19. Bringin' In The Georgia Mail

20. Born To Lose

21. San Antonio Rose

22. When It's Time For The Whippoorwill To Sing

23. Please Remember That I Love You

24. Unfaithful One

Disc 2

16. Higher

18. Just Doing Rock And Roll

Disc 3

14. Family Bible

26. Greenback Dollar

29. Garden In The Sky

Disc 4

6. Make Believe Heaven

8. Don't Let Temptation Turn You 'Round

15. River Of Jordan

16. Amazing Grace

17. Echoes From The Burning Bush

x

Track List: Early Years 1951-1959

Disc 1

1. When I Safely Reach That Other Shore

2. Little Country Preacher

3. Wings Of Faith

4. Jesus Will Save Your Soul

5. The Lord's Last Supper

6. I'm Using My Bible For A Roadmap

7. I Want To Live Like Christ My Savior

8. Let In The Guiding Light

9. There's A Highway To Heaven

10. Some Beautiful Day

11. Jesus Is Standing At My Right Hand

12. Hear Jerusalem Mourn

13. A Pretty Wreath For Mother's Grave

14. A Rose On God's Shore

15. There's Another Baby Waiting For Me Down The Line

16. Maybe You Will Change Your Mind

17. I'm Gone, Long Gone

18. Drifting With The Tide

19. Tennessee Cut-Up Breakdown

20. Crazy Finger Blues

22. He's Coming Back To Earth Again

23. I Can Hear The Angels Singing

24. My Mother's Bible

25. Please Don't Feel Sorry For Me

26. I Could Cry

27. Springtime In Dear Old Dixie

28. Choking The Strings

Disc 2

1. Mountain Church

2. Love Call Waltz

3. I'm The Talk Of The Town

4. Always Be Kind To Your Mother

5. Since I've Used My Bible For A Roadmap

6. I'm Building A Mansion In Heaven

7. My Shepherd Is God

8. Tree Of Life

9. Springtime In Heaven

10. Tally Ho

11. Emotions

13. All I Have Is Just A Memory

14. Someone Will Love Me In Heaven

15. Limehouse Blues

16. Dixie Breakdown

17. Barefoot Nellie

18. Cruel Love

19. I'm The Biggest Liar In Town

20. It's Grand To Have Someone To Love You

21. Let's Live For Tonight

22. Old Home Place

23. Trail Of Sorrow

24. Charlotte Breakdown

25. How I Miss My Darling Mother

27. Jesus Is Waiting

28. I'm So Happy

29. Hen Scratchin' Stomp

Disc 3

1. Double Banjo Blues

2. Reno Ride

3. Banjo Riff

4. Banjo Signal

5. Mack's Hoedown

6. Jesus Answers My Prayers

7. Get Behind Me Satan

8. Home Sweet Home

9. Green Mountain Hop

10. If It Takes Me A Lifetime

11. Country Boy Rock N' Roll

12. I Know You're Married

13. No Longer A Sweetheart Of Mine

14. Forgotten Men

15. Never Get To Hold You In My Arms Anymore

16. Kneel Down

17. Cumberland Gap

18. Remington Ride

19. Richmond Ruckus

20. When You And I Were Young, Maggie

21. Unwanted Love

22. Better Luck Next Time

23. Wall Around Your Heart

24. Another Day

25. Banjo Special

26. Country Latin Special

27. Get Ready

28. Keep Me Humble

Disc 4

1. Brighter Mansion Over There

2. He Will Forgive You

4. Buggy Ride

5. I Want To Know

6. The New Jerusalem

7. He's Not Ashamed Of You

8. God's Record Book Of Life

9. Pray

10. Passing Of Time

11. I'll Trade My Cross For A Crown

12. Sailing Home

14. I Wouldn't Change You If I Could

15. Sockeye

17. Dark As A Dungeon

19. East Bound Freight Train

20. Charlie Brooks And Nellie Adair

21. Lonesome Wind Blues

22. Mountain Rosa Lee

23. She Has Forgotten

24. Eight More Miles To Louisville

Comments

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larryj921
Has always been my favorite. Awesome to hear such a high quality copy.
Report as inappropriate
copierlaw
Toe tappin goodness!
Report as inappropriate
lavfd
Awesome harmony, good tunes, great plucking
Report as inappropriate
davidaardapp e l
Nice, tight harmonies...
Report as inappropriate
douglasaldri d g e
one of the best harmonizing duos
Report as inappropriate
I love to hear these two men sing. It just makes heart light for jesus.
Report as inappropriate
reno & smiley rock,let`s hear more of them!

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