Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen (#713)

These musical veterans have been among the innovators in bluegrass for more than 40 years.

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Bluegrass royalty Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen were playing their authentic American music long before it became popular with Hollywood or was widely familiar to mainstream America. Since their 1959 release, Traveling Dobro Blues, and 1960’s Country Songs Old & New, the Country Gentlemen have been well known among bluegrass fans and folk aficionados.

The Country Gentlemen also helped expand the definition of “bluegrass” itself, playing progressive bluegrass before the term existed. A critical part of the first wave of the folk music revival in the late ’50s, the band made a name for itself not only by playing traditional material but also by bringing Bob Dylan’s folk tunes and contemporary country material into the genre. With their exceptional singing and virtuoso instrumentals, the Gentlemen attracted a broad audience, from traditional country/bluegrass fans to folk and soft-rock lovers.

With more than two dozen albums to their credit, the Country Gentlemen have seen a number of personnel changes over the years. Since the beginning, though, guitarist/vocalist Waller has led the band through its numerous incarnations. Backing Waller on this performance are Greg Corbett, Darin Aldridge, and Ronnie Davis. They were recorded at IIIrd Tyme Out’s 2001 Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Morehead, KY.

For fans just discovering the Gentlemen, a good place to start is the 2002 album 45 Years of Memories, a showcase of the group’s most successful hits.