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The Cumberland Highlanders

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This bluegrass and old-time music ensemble calls itself more of an orchestra than a band, with up to ten more or less regular members boasting literally hundreds of years of on-stage experience between the lot of them. The group was formed in 2000 to provide music for the Cumberland Highlanders Show, a television program produced out of London, KY. Not such a strange connection because of the outdoorsy nature of bluegrass music and the Appalachian mountains that the music came out of, this program is broadcast on the Outdoors Channel. Membership of the band is more on the inside, so to speak, as in inside the bluegrass hall of fame. Ralph Stanley appeared with the group in its first year, and sang several numbers on their debut album, entitled Cumberland Mountain Home. There are also four former members of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys by itself establishing this new band as something of an institution in itself. These players include Tater Tate, a marvelous country fiddler who also used to play bass for Monroe in the later days of the band, as well as guitarist and singer Wayne Lewis, fiddler Jimmy Campbell, and Billy Rose, a hotshot on both banjo and mandolin. Bass fiddler and singer Julie Ann Mercer not only plays the bass lines and provides vocal harmonies for many of the songs written by singer Campbell Mercer, she is apparently a romantic inspiration for much of the group's original music that he writes. Mercer is a former member of the Boone River Boys. No major bluegrass outfit of this proportion would be complete without its own built-in "brother" duet, which we have here in the form of Russell Wilson and Curnie Lee Wilson. The latter fellow began appearing with the Wilson Brothers when he was barely a teen, and developed into both an excellent mandolinist and vocalist. He toured with brother Russell for 24 years and a half a dozen albums. Mandolinist Jack Kincaid, sometimes known as "Preachin' Jack," and banjoist and singer Travis Brown, round out the collection of players.

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