Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Long Journey Home | American Legion Hall | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Long Journey Home All Ages Recommended Soundboard

When: Sat., April 30, 8 p.m. 2011

Banjoist and singer Joe Mullins named Hymns From the Hills (Rebel), the second album with his band Radio Ramblers, after a gospel radio show that his father, DJ and bluegrass fiddler Paul "Moon" Mullins, launched in Middletown, Ohio, in 1964. The younger Mullins followed his father's twin vocations, playing in a local band called Traditional Grass while breaking into radio in 1982, and by 1990 he'd launched a version of his father's program that even used the same name. He's found success in both fields—he owns several Ohio stations—and before leading his own group he worked in the all-star band Longview. Steeped in the conventions of bluegrass, the all-gospel Hymns From the Hills makes a fine addition to the repertoire, with high-profile guests (Doyle Lawson, Larry Sparks, Rhonda Vincent) adding extra flavor. In fact, Ralph Stanley saves the collection's sole misstep, a spin through the Sunday-school standard "Jesus Loves Me" that includes a ragged children's choir from Mullins's church cloyingly delivering the chorus. The Radio Ramblers complement the traditional numbers with some decent originals, but one new tune jumped out at me: "O the Love of My Redeemer," written by Chicago's own Josh Caterer of Smoking Popes fame. A quick Google search indicates it's become a modern gospel staple. —Peter Margasak

Price: $20, $15 seniors and children

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