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Friday, July 24, 2009
RFD NO. 1
by The RFD Boys
JESSUP RECORDS MB 126 1972 STEREO
Here at last is the long awaited first album of the RFD Boys. They have been playing together for almost three years, spreading bluegrass throughout the Michigan-Ohio area. My wife and I now live about seventy miles north of Ann Arbor, the home base of the RFD Boys, but we are still excited enough about them to take many of our new friends down to hear them. It's been a hectic time for us since our "fluke" discovery of the RFD Boys in June of 1970. My wife Denise picked me up at the Detroit airport and was jibbering excitedly about a surprise she had found during my absence. Even though I was tired after a long flight, she refused to let me go home and get out of my suit, we had to go hear this band. She wouldn't say any more about her discovery, and I was skeptical, to say the least, but once we got there and heard the band, I was an instant fan.
That was the beginning of the RFD experience for us, this record is your introduction to their brand of bluegrass. The rest of their show, the stories, jokes, and slapstick just can't be recorded. For that you'll have to see them in person. If you're around Michigan or they're appearing near you, I'd recommend that you go and see them, you won't regret it.
-Eric Goodman March, 1972
DICK "Davidson Black" DIETERLE is the first-rate fiddler for the RFD Boys. He writes fiddle tunes, two of which are on this album, and is an MC (and straight man) of unusual ability. He loks through a microscope when he isn't holding a fiddle as an M.D. and resident in Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical Center.
CHARLIE "Stockton" ROEHRIG is the very able flat-picker, lead singer, and songwriter in chief for the RFD Boys. He is a versatile musician, lending a hand in twin fiddle numbers, regularly displaying his agility on the mandolin, and occasionally even picking a little banjo. Charlie's hobby is Economics, and will soon receive his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan.
PAUL "Spiro" SHAPIRO plucks, slaps, and thumps a strong steady beat for the band on the doghouse bass. With a little coaxing, Paul sings lead on a few numbers that most generally draws a baritone duty. He is a student of Mathematics at the University of Michigan.
JAMES "Willard" SPENCER is the tall skinny one in the pictures, and picks a fine banjo. He plays dobro on occasion (including the Country Road cut on this album), and sings baritone on many numbers. He also plays a large assortment of other instruments, from ragtime piano to kazoo. Willard in his spare time is a computer whiz for a leading Detroit architecture firm. His antics, a constant source of humorous annoyance to Dick, provides the basis for much of the fine show the RFD Boys put on between numbers.
JOHN ANDREW STEY is the newest member of the band. His strong tenor and lead singing have brought the group the fine full sound captured on this album. While he plays back-up guitar on Charlie's flat-picking displays, his main instrumental work is on the mandolin. John has a Master's Degree in Library Science, but he has turned in his library card in favor of one from the Musician's Union.
Liner Notes - Eric Goodman Cover Pictures - Harold E. Sturm Engineer - Carl Fracala Correspondence:
RFD Boys P. O. Box 2223 Ann Arbor, Michigan
A Michigan Bluegrass Stereo Recording
RECODRDED AT JESSUP RECORDING STUDIOS
JESSUP RECORDS INC 3150 Francis Street, Jackson, Michigan 49203 Country-Gospel and Bluegrass International Phone 517-782-3445
Jackets by Martin Printing & Album Co., Flora, Illinois, U.S.A.
BOSTON (3:25) C. Roehrig FOX ON THE RUN (3:01) Hazzard KENT COUNTY BREAKDOWN (2:34) D. Dieterle IT'S A LONG LONG WAY TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD (3:04) Wayne TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS (4:23) J. Denver - Cherry Lane Music Co. ASCAP ROCKY TOP (3:10) B. Bryant, F. Bryant
RFD COUNTRY (2:38) D. Dietrle LITTLE BY LITTLE (3:30) C. Roehrig GOLD WATCH AND CHAIN (3:23) A. P. Carter - Peer Int'l Corp. BMI SOMEBODY TOUCHED ME (2:17) Traditional LEAVIN' THE OZARKS (3:06) C. Roehrig COUNTRY BOY ROCK AND ROLL (2:23) D. Reno
Editor's note: bluegrass is like most different music genres, you either like it or you don't. I'm not particularly fond of it but I can see its value to others just as I can understand why people love Metallica, Prince or Lynyrd Skynyrd: because they are good at what they do. These guys (they seem to have lost Mr. Stey somewhere along the way) were merely upstarts when this album came out so I assume that they are pretty damn close to being pros seeing as they still play shows in Ann Arbor. In fact they are playing on the 13th this month if you are in the area.
I came across this record on a few blogs and managed to track down some audio from WFMU's site. I would love to hear more from this honky-tonkin' caterwaulin' queen. Listen to the tracks below and I think you will too!