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Reuben James
Bluegrass Alliance

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About the video  

Louisville, KY group. A big thanks goes to David Newton for his generous offer of
this song from his personal collection of Louisville, KY groups. Record from 1969.

About the artists

Simply listing some of the players who have passed through the Bluegrass
Alliance in its various incarnations provides ample evidence of how important this
outfit was in the development of bluegrass.

Top-flight pickers who have worked in the Bluegrass Alliance include
multi-instrumentalist Chuck Nation, mandolinist Sam Bush, flatpicking whiz Dan
Crary, rambunctious fiddler Hoot Hester, banjoistsBuddy Spurlock and Courtney
Johnson, progressive bluegrass guitarist and bandleader Tony Rice, and even
Vince Gill, a bluegrass flatpicker and frontman who eventually went on to carve
out a career in country & western music.

The band was originally formed by fiddler Lonnie Peerce in the late '60s and
within a few years was already busy with gigs at fairs, clubs, festivals, and
colleges. The group appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at least a dozen times
over the next decade and cut three albums.

One of the first groups to be stuck with the gimmicky label of "new grass," the
band went on hiatus in the late '70s that, unfortunately for lovers of grass new or
blue lasted much longer than anyone intended it to. Peerce had to retire from
performing for health reasons and many of the band's former members had too
many projects going on their own to worry about a re-formation. For example,
four former members, including mandolinist Bush, formed the New Grass
Revival, indicating their own fondness for this genre label. Instead, reviving the
band became the goal of a young a banjoist named Barry Palmer.

Palmer was a fanatic of the original version and had befriended Peerce and his
wife when the band was riding high in popularity. He was born in early 1960 in
Cleveland, GA, and from an early age had two sets of musical activities going in
both bluegrass and a much different style of music, jazz. His strong interest in
old-time country and bluegrass music came from his family. Both his
grandmother and father had played the vintage two-finger style of banjo. Palmer
first started picking banjo at the age of 14, but also learned to play the bass
trombone in the high school jazz band, as well as going on to play that
instrument professionally with Stan Kenton's band. Already the genre barriers
begin melting, as Kenton is one of few jazz artists to have experimented with
country & western music, which can at least be considered a kissin' cousin of
bluegrass. Palmer went on playing jazz for the next 18 years. During the last part
of Peerce's life -- in which he was building fiddles, judging fiddle contests, and
coming up with innovative sets of guidelines and rules for these events -- Palmer
and he discussed the possibility of a new Bluegrass Alliance which would revive
the band's musical repertoire. Because of the young man's obviously sincere
dedication, it was decided by Peerce and his wife that Palmer would be allowed
to create a new version of the band. It finally came together in October of 1998,
almost exactly 30 years after the group was originally formed.

The so-called "re-allied" group features Palmer, bassist La Rita Buchanan,
frontman and guitarist Johnny Martin, mandolinist Tom Hicks, and one member
of the original Bluegrass Alliance group: fiddler, mandolinist, and guitarist Chuck
Nation. Another former member, Hoot Hester, also plays with the group on the
new record, ironically the first time this player actually got to record with the
Bluegrass Alliance, since his contributions in the first stage of the group were
never documented on record. In the manner of many an efficient combo, the new
version of the band also has a list of alternative players on tap in case of date or
other conflicts over individual gigs. Musicians such as fiddlers Randall Collins or
David Blackmon and guitarist Scott Morgan are all so-called substitute members
of this alliance. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, All Music Guide