Artist: Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers
Hometown: Xenia, Ohio
Song: “Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23”
Album: Industrial Strength Bluegrass
Release Date: March 26, 2021
Label: Smithsonian Folkways
In Their Words: “The great Appalachian migration of the 20th century placed tens of thousands of families from the hills and hollers into the industrial region of southwestern Ohio. Three shifts a day produced steel, paper, automobiles and more, from Cincinnati northward to Hamilton, Middletown, Dayton and Springfield, in the Miami valley of Ohio. No one makes better music than homesick hillbillies and they picked and sang at neighborhood taverns, churches, radio stations and fairgrounds. My parents left Kentucky in 1964 and I was born in Middletown, Ohio, one year later. Dad was a fiddler and radio personality spotlighting bluegrass music for the entire region.
“‘Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23′ was penned by Dwight Yoakam early in his career. His roots travel US Route 23 from eastern Kentucky to the Columbus, Ohio region. My mother’s parents lived a few miles off Route 23 in Lawrence County, Kentucky, in a’ ‘holler.’ Our family made the trip from Ohio to see my mamaw and papaw Williams hundreds of times. This song’s second verse was so personal to me, it took a lot of rehearsal to sing through my emotions. Seeing their porch light burning brightly, as a kid, meant I was soon to welcomed into their loving arms. In these troubled times, it’s a memory I cherish and find very comforting.
“‘Readin’, Rightin’, Route 23′ is the opening track to the forthcoming album entitled Industrial Strength Bluegrass. The 16-song project will feature songs all connected to the rich history of bluegrass music created, written or recorded in my neighborhood, southwestern Ohio. I can’t wait until the world hears Dan Tyminski, Lee Ann Womack, Doyle Lawson and more artists performing songs draw from a deep well of classic bluegrass!” — Joe Mullins
Photo credit: Russ Carson