Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers
Throughout the past decade, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers have delivered bluegrass music with a message. Whether singing gospel or secular songs, or simply through lyrics which make audiences consider the better things in life and beyond, the band and their recordings have touched hearts. Led by Joe Mullins, the band has produced six outstanding albums for Rebel Records including two moving gospel records.
A native of southwestern Ohio and the son of legendary Bluegrass DJ, fiddler, and pioneer Paul “Moon” Mullins, Joe is no stranger to Rebel. Joe recorded quite a few albums with his father before the elder Mullins pass away. Four of those recordings are available on the Rebel Records label under the band name The Traditional Grass.
At times, it wasn’t easy for Joe to walk in the footsteps of his father. “Hank Williams Jr. had a big song in the 1960s when he first started called ‘Standing in the Shadows,'” says Mullins. “And, here in southwestern Ohio, if you showed up playing the banjo with Paul ‘Moon’ Mullins, there wasn’t any doubt about who the star of the show was going to be. My dad, he was a household name and folks included him as a member of the family.”
Joe left The Traditional Grass in 1995 when he purchased WBZI Radio in Xenia, Ohio and began to build up a small network of radio stations in the central Ohio area. Until the mid-2000s, running the radio network took up most of Mullins’ time, but he did perform and record every once in a while. For instance, in 2001, he won an IBMA Award for playing banjo on the Rebel Records Knee Deep in Bluegrass: The AcuTab Sessions, which won the Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year nod. Currently, Joe owns a network of radio stations in the Midwest and is the host of Front Porch Fellowship on Singing News Radio.
In 2006, Mullins decided to form the Radio Ramblers and the band has been on a roll since then. The group’s Rebel Records albums are known for crisp, modern-sounding bluegrass music that keeps the traditional side of the genre front and center. “The variety of the material on our albums has got just as much attention as the playing and singing has because it’s very refreshing for a lot of folks,” says Mullins. “I’m glad of that. And, I like variety. Every tune on there isn’t about somebody’s girlfriend has gone off and left him or the old home place. There are new and old songs on there. There are a lot of songs on there that I learned from old country records from when my Dad was on radio.”
Mullins is “happy to be busy as a musician and banjo artist” producing superb music with an original, yet traditional feel. His fine band includes mandolinist and vocalist Mike Terry, Jason Barrie on fiddle, Duane Sparks on guitar and vocals, and bass player and vocalist Randy Barnes. The band has a full touring schedule and has played at nearly every active bluegrass festival in recent years. In 2012 Mullins and the Radio Ramblers received the prestigious IBMA “Emerging Artist of the Year” Award, just one of Mullins’ 5 IBMA and 3 SPBGMA awards. The following July the band made their debut on the Grand Old Opry in 2013 and have since made regular appearances on the program.