Wildwood Valley Boys

The original version of the Wildwood Valley Boys was in many ways an extension of the Boys From Indiana (be sure to check out the bio for this group).  Tony and Jeff Holt and Harlan Gabbard – the nucleus of Wildwood Valley Boys – are the sons of Aubrey and Jerry Holt and Harley Gabbard – the driving forces behind the Boys From Indiana.  Even the band name has significance as Wildwood Valley is the location of the Holt family farm in Milan, Indiana.

The Wildwood Valley Boys organized in 1992 but it was not until 1999 that the group released their first recording, which was a CD for Rebel.  ln all, the group recorded five projects for the label, four of which were straight ahead bluegrass and one of which was gospel.

Inventive songwriting had always been a hallmark of the Boys From Indiana and that trait carried over to the new band.  Of the 12 songs on their debut recording, When I Get Back to Georgia,  10 of them were originals by various Holt family members.  The two “cover” songs were familiar ones to bluegrass. One was Charlie Moore’s “Lorena Go Home” and the other was an early 1940s favorite called “Don’t Make Me Go To Bed and I’ll Be Good.”

The gospel CD I’m a Believer was released next.  Like their first album, it was loaded with band and family originals.  The only two evergreens were “Wait a Little Longer, Please Jesus,” which was popular in the 1950s, and the Albert E. Brumley favorite “Dreaming of a Little Cabin.”  Band members and guests artists included Tony and Jeff Holt, Jamie Johnson, Mike Elliott, Gerald Evans, Glen Inman, and Wes Vanderpool.

The 2002 disc Back Country Road was the only Wildwood Valley Boys CD to feature a significant amount of material from outside sources.  Songs were as diverse as Jimmie Davis’ “Shackles and Chains,” John Prine’s “Paradise,” and the Lefty Frizzell standard “Mom and Dad’s Waltz.”  More recent compositions included Marvin Davis’ “Black Dust Fever” as well as banjo player Wes Vanderpool’s tune “Paul’s Ride.”  This CD also documented several personnel changes since the recording of the previous disc.  Band members on the discs were Tony Holt , Wes Vanderpool, Davis Long, and Kevin Kehrberg along with guests Gene Campbell and Greg Moore.

Given that 9 of the 12 selections on Songs From Wildwood Valley were written by Aubrey and/or Tony Holt, it is entirely appropriate that the CD title should reflect their farm name and family roots.  The group also tackled the Bill Monroe/Lester Flatt duet “When You Are Lonely” as well as the 1980 Merle Haggard hit “The Way I Am.”  This disc, as did the others, received enthusiastic praise in the press, with one reviewer noting one of the chief reasons for the success of the band was “taste and old-fashioned timing.”

By the time of the Wildwood Valley Boys final recording for Rebel, the group had gone through a number of changes in band members.  The only remaining original member was Tony Holt.  Consequently, the group was billed as Tony Holt & the Wildwood Valley Boys.  Same great music, new name.  Daylight’s Burnin’ contained all new original material with one exception, Merle Haggard’s “Silver Ghost.”