Red Allen is a member of the International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame. A native of eastern Kentucky, Red possessed a powerful singing voice that was captured to good advantage on recordings he made in the 1950s and ‘60s. He is perhaps best remembered for the songs he did with Osborne Brothers in the late 1950s.
By the middle 1960s, Red was fronting his own band, the Kentuckians, and was headquartered in the Washington, D. C., area. His partner, at times, was mandolin wizard Frank Wakefield. Red was very active recording-wise during this time period, with songs appearing on a variety of labels, including County, Melodeon, and Rebel. At the time, his output for Rebel was brilliant but rather limited. He released two singles which included a masterful version of “Little Birdie,” “Faded Memory,” “Keep On Going” and “Froggy Went a Courtin’.” Two other songs, which were instrumentals with Frank Wakefield, “Musician’s Waltz” and “Rondo,” appeared on a 4-LP set called 70 Song Bluegrass Spectacular.
In 2004, Rebel arranged for all of Red’s classic recordings from the middle 1960s to appear on two compact discs: Keep On Going and Lonesome And Blue. The first disc was comprised of the Rebel masters – including several previously unissued tracks – and 12 songs that appeared on a self-titled album on the Melodeon label. The disc boasted 23 songs and featured a stellar line-up of Washington area musicians including Frank Wakefield, Bill Emerson, Billy Baker, Tom Morgan, Bill and Wayne Yates, Pete Kuykendall and Scotty Stoneman. Among the highlights were “Journey’s End,” “Those ‘Gone and Left Me’ Blues,” “No Blind Ones There,” “Down Where the River Bends,” “Hello City Limits” and “Out on the Ocean.”
The other CD, Lonesome and Blue, contained the music of two LPs (plus the previously unissued “Seven Year Blues” and “Branded Wherever I Go”) that originally appeared on the County label. Billed as “the complete County recordings,” the CD contained 25 songs. Among the titles on disc were “Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On,” “We Live in Two Different Worlds,” “Love Gone Cold” and “I Wonder Where You Are Tonight.” Lending excellent backing were Bill and Wayne Yates, Porter Church, Richard Greene, David Grisman, Craig Wingfield and Jerry McCoury. David Grisman, the renowned mandolin player who is known for his Dawg music, was barely 20 years old when he produced both of the albums on this CD.
Red Allen went on to enjoy another 30 years in bluegrass, including a stint with the Foggy Mountain Boys when Lester Flatt was forced to take some time off for health reasons. Red was a favorite on the bluegrass festival circuit and continued to make recordings. However, he never sounded better than he did when making the music that found its way to the two Rebel CDs, Keep On Going and Lonesome And Blue.