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  • Celebrate Southwestern Ohio’s Golden Age with Industrial Strength Bluegrass

    Smithsonian Folkways celebrates the golden age of bluegrass music in Southwest Ohio with the release of Industrial Strength Bluegrass on March 26, pre-order the album now, and listen to the first single, "Readin', Rightin', Route 23," performed by Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers.

    Industrial Strength Bluegrass is 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. The 16-song collection was produced by IBMA Award-winning musician/bandleader Joe Mullins, whose father - fiddler and radio personality Paul “Moon” Mullins - made that journey and helped found the region’s bluegrass scene. The compilation (companion to the new book of the same title) 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 Famer Bobby Osborne, and many of today’s finest bluegrass and Americana artists including Lee Ann Womack, Dan Tyminski, The Isaacs, Sierra Hull, and more.

    The album's first single, Dwight Yoakam’s “Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23," is a highly personal song detailing Yoakam’s family journey from Pikeville, Ky. to Columbus Oh., but it’s also the story of Mullins’ family and countless more. They arrived in Ohio as immigrants in their own country, dismissed as “Briarhoppers” and ridiculed for their clothes, their food, their dialect and their fiddles and banjos. Instead of abandoning their roots, they wore them as badges of honor, turning poverty into poetry, creating a bluegrass sound heard and loved the world over.

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