July 24, 2004 - Randy Waller perfoming
"Daddy's Ol' Guitar" at the Scottsvile Bluegrass
Ablemarle Farm as Charlie listens. Charlie passed away on
August 18, 2004 - Photo by Dave Roye
Waller - The Legend
their formation in July of 1957, The Country Gentlemen have
been at the forefront of innovation and popularity in bluegrass
music. The trend setters from the word go, their snappy arrangements
were the first to break from the established mold of the 40s
and 50s. Their music was the first to be marketed to a non-rural
audience. They found much work in the metropolitan Washington
D.C. area, college campuses, and urban coffee houses during
the years, The Gentlemen have been one of the most imitated
and emulatied groups and been a source of inspiration for many
new bands. The contemporary bluegrass music scene began with
The Country Gentlemen. Immediate offshoots in the 60s and 70s
include Cliff Waldron and Bill Emerson and The New Shades of
Grass as well as The Seldom Scene. Former Country Gentlemen
are hightly visible in today's music world. The late John Duffey
was a founder and leader of The Seldom Scene along with Tom
Gray. Bill Emerson went on to lead the U.S. Navy Band, Country
Current, until his retirement. Doyle Lawson is one of the top
performers of today. Jerry Douglas and Jimmy Gaudreau have great
careers as super pickers. Ricky Scaggs went on to a super star
status in both country and bluegrass music. Eddie Adcock along
with his wife Martha are a prominent duo. Both are songwriters
and excellent singers. Eddie is a legendary banjo and guitar
player as well as a talented record producer. Bill Yates, long
time member of the Gents, is now called an Ambassador of Bluegrass
Music who travels the country in his retirement visiting festivals
and doin guest spots with his many friends.
Waller, the founding lead singer and guitar player of The Country
Gentlemen, is the one memeber who remained constant in the band.
Many changes occurred, but the Waller sound did not. His guitar
rythym and beautiful, rich voiced helped create and maintain
a legend for over 47 years. So many great songs came from Charlie
and his associates: Legend of the Rebel Soldier, Bringing Mary
Home, Fox On The Run, Calling My Children Home, Waltz of the
Angels, The Fields Have Turned Brown, Matterhorn, and many others.
The impact of the Gents has been and will continue to be great
for generations to come.
Waller, Eddie Adcock, John Duffey, and Tom Gray, now called
the Classic Country Gentlemen were inducted into the International
Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame in 1996.
of Charlie's hopes and dreams was that his son Randy Waller
would someday take over and continue the band. In keeping with
that idea he had asked Randy to join him on the road. For the
past year and halfRandy had been working with his dad. Randy
also worked on Charlies latest CD, playing guitar and singing.
Charlie recorded one of Randy's song The Vision, on that project.
may also have had a vision of things to come because on August
18, 2004, Charlie Waller passed away suddenly from a massive
heart attack while picking vegetables in his garden. He will
be sorely missed and mourned by his many friends and fans.
great voice has been stilled, but a new voice has been introduced,
as Randy Waller has taken over just as Charlie wanted. The Country
Gentlemen will continue ...
Waller - The Legacy
in Washington , DC in 1959, Randy grew up surrounded by the
music of the Country Gentlemen. "Those
musicians were like family to me," he says of giants
like Eddie Adcock, Jimmy Gaudreau, Bill Yates, Ricky Skaggs,
Jerry Douglas and Doyle Lawson. Spending the school
year on a farm with his father's sister in Tennessee , he
traveled the roads with his dad in the summers, soaking up
groundbreaking music and learning the rigors of life in a
traveling bluegrass band. When he finished his schooling,
he chose to make his living outside of bluegrass, developing
a solo career that found him opening for major country acts,
fronting regional country and country-rock bands and teaching
guitar in Richmond , Virginia - an experience that immersed
him in the musical world of his generational peers.
Yet in the end, Randy Waller came back to his bluegrass family.
"Daddy's Old Guitar," the emotional
center of Randy Waller ,
tells the story: how Charlie Waller fulfilled on Christmas
Day of 2002 the promise he'd made to his son in 1963 by giving
him his 1937 D28 herringbone guitar. "I
figured I'd better get out there and start playing it,"
Randy says with a smile, "so I started playing with him and
the Country Gentlemen in 2003." Within months, fans
moved by his stunning solo performance of "Old
Rugged Cross" were asking for recordings, and the idea
for the CD was born.
To make Randy Waller , the
singer/guitarist/songwriter turned first to members of his
Country Gentlemen "family," bringing
Jimmy Gaudreau in to play mandolin and mandola and Eddie and
Martha Adcock to provide harmonies and recruiting Mike Moore,
a friend from his teenaged years, to play bass. Award-winning
banjo man Sammy Shelor (Lonesome River Band) and fiddler Aubrey
Haynie came on board at the recommendation of recording engineer
Tim Austin ; "they were a godsend," Randy says.
Anchored by "Daddy's Old Guitar"
and "Old Rugged Cross," the disc
provides irrefutable evidence of the explosive combination
of family legacy and individual experience, as Waller sets
his own compositions alongside those of powerful writers like
Carl Jackson and songs like "This Ol'
Cowboy" (Marshall Tucker Band) and "Give
It Up Or Let Me Go" (Bonnie Raitt) that bring the transformative
genius of the Country Gentlemen (who translated rock songs
like "Fox On The Run" into bluegrass
classics) into the 21 st century.
"My dad told me about the first time he heard me play the
guitar when I was a kid; he was in the bathroom shaving, and
all of a sudden he heard me play that Lester Flatt G run.
He says he cut himself, it surprised him so much," Randy
Waller says with a laugh. So be advised: stay
away from sharp objects the first time you give Randy
Waller a spin. If you haven't heard him yet,
I guarantee you, too, are going to be surprised.
Jon Weisberger - Nashville, TN - March, 2004