Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys
Saturday, May 5th, 2018, at 7:30 p.m., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia, will present a concert by Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 11, under age 6 free. Ralph II has done annual concerts at the Fold for nearly a decade now, and the Fold is thrilled to welcome him back for this year’s concert.
If you were to gather together an average cross-section of people and ask them if they thought it would be an advantage for a performer to be the child of a living legend, most would probably conclude that it would be a definite plus. After all, the doors of opportunity would be quicker to open, and the spotlight of public attention that so many artists spend years trying to cultivate would be yours by default, so to speak, and no doubt those are very real and tangible advantages. But then there’s the downside – pressure. The learning curve, the whole growth process with potential missteps and pitfalls, is a public document. Most artists get to take those perilous first steps of their careers in relative anonymity, a nameless face in the crowd.
As one might expect for the son of a renowned banjo player, the first instrument Ralph II ever held was a banjo. At the ripe old age of three, Ralph (or simply “Two” as he is called by his family and friends), had his first lesson from the elder Stanley, learning a simple finger roll. It turned out, however, that he would not be following in his father’s footsteps when it came to his choice of instrument. He soon fell under the spell of the undisputed king of boyhood musical desires, the guitar. He spotted one under his sister’s bed, and according to Ralph, “I wanted to play it. When I was five years old, I started with the guitar and I’ve been playing it ever since.”
But despite his interest in the guitar, and the fact that he was also travelling on the road occasionally with the Clinch Mountain Boys, he had not yet developed an ambition to play professionally. It took until age twelve and an old 1977 video of the late Keith Whitley during his tenure as lead singer for the Clinch Mountain Boys to inspire him to become a professional musician. After seeing Whitley with the elder Stanley, he was hooked and spent hours in the family basement honing his skills, and weathering the comparisons to his late Uncle Carter. His persistence paid off, and he took the stage as lead singer with Ralph Sr. and the Clinch Mountain Boys in June of 1995. Since then, he has earned the respect of Stanley fans everywhere and has garnered praise as a strong new artist in his own right.
On May 26, 2017, Stanley Family Records released the self-titled album by Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. This release was the first since Ralph II honored his father’s wishes by taking over the Clinch Mountain Boys name. The musical talent of previous Clinch Mountain Boy John Rigsby on fiddle and mandolin, Alex Leach on the banjo, Noah Brown on the upright bass, and Ralph II on guitar now make up Ralph II and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Ralph II has had two Grammy nominations on previous albums he recorded with Rebel Records. In 2002 he earned his first Grammy along with his father, Dr. Ralph Stanley, for their collaboration with Jim Lauderdale on Lost in the Lonesome Pines. Ralph II has proven to be an accomplished songwriter and has six solo albums under his belt, along with the highly acclaimed duet album with his father titled Side by Side.
This will mark Ralph II’s ninth performance at the Fold. His father Ralph and his uncle Carter actually performed at the A.P. Carter Park when A.P. presented music programs in the early 1950s. Those shows were held just behind the Fold at the base of Clinch Mountain in an outdoor concert area. The Stanley and Carter families have been pivotal in preserving the region’s rich musical tradition and carrying the music of the mountains throughout the world. Come see and support this legendary performer in one of the region’s most historical venues – the Carter Fold! Joining II for the concert will be Maybelle Carter’s granddaughter (& Anita Carter’s daughter) Lorrie Carter Bennett. Giving Lorrie a hand will be long-time family friend and Carter Family style performer and enthusiast Ronnie Williams. The Fold is also excited to announce that Ralph II’s lovely wife Kristi Stanley and her group Running Blind will be doing their first Fold concert on July 14th.
Since his father’s death, II now proudly carries on the Stanley Brothers tradition, and he does so in his own reverent and sweet natured way. He was, in fact, carrying on his family’s music heritage long before his father’s death. Using his legendary family’s music as his gold standard, Ralph II has carved out his own musical legacy. A great song writer and a tremendous performer, his musical ability, showmanship and stage presence will amaze you. It’s a show you won’t want to miss! Go to www.ralph2.com/ for additional information.
Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Incorporated, is a nonprofit, rural arts organization established to preserve traditional, acoustic, mountain music. For further information on the center, go to http://www.carterfamilyfold.