This month Rebel Records will unearth two excellent, but less well-known LPs as part of its campaign to digitally reissue classic albums. Sing A Bluegrass Song by Al Wood & The Smokey Ridge Boys and Rollin by Bill Grant & Delia Bell hit digital retailers on March 22nd.
Al Wood came from the musically rich area along the North Carolina-Virginia border in Surry County, North Carolina, and along with his brother Odell formed The Smokey Ridge Boys in the 1960s. The band made a big impact on the fiddlers’ convention circuit gaining recognition as one of the finest traditional bluegrass acts in the region.
After a few 45rpm singles on various labels, Wood signed a contract with Rebel and put out two solid LPs for the label. Sing A Bluegrass Song was the first and features Odell Wood on bass, Dewey Farmer on mandolin, Lester Deaton on guitar, and Al Wood on banjo and lead vocals.
Bill Grant was one of the most influential figures in bluegrass west of the Mississippi in the 1970s and 80s. In addition to a successful songwriting and performing career Bill organized the August Hugo Oklahoma Bluegrass Festival – one of the largest and earliest bluegrass festivals. Along with his singing partner Delia Bell the duo had a prolific recording career producing upwards of ten LPs on several labels including several on their own Oklahoma-based label Kiamichi Records.
Bell was a strong early female voice in bluegrass music, and her composition “Roses In The Snow” would go on to become the title track to Emmylou Harris’s renowned 1980 release.
Released in 1981, Rollin was the second of two albums the duo recorded for Rebel and features Grant on mandolin and vocals, Bell on guitar and vocals, Benny Martin on fiddle, Joe Stuart on lead guitar, Gordon Reid on banjo, and Joe Pointer on bass. Josh Graves produced the album and lends his dobro talent into the mix.