July 24, 2004 - Randy Waller perfoming "Daddy's Ol' Guitar" at the Scottsvile Bluegrass Festival at
Ablemarle Farm as Charlie listens. Charlie passed away on August 18, 2004 - Photo by Dave Roye
Charlie Waller - The Legend

Since 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 1960's.

Through 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.

Charlie 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.

Charlie 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.
One 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.

Charlie 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.

A 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 ...

 

Randy Waller - The Legacy

Born 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


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