Hurry Up, June 1st !

Hello everybody!

Hope summer beauty and warmer weather are slipping in around the edges where you call home. It is happening in our part of the country!

Yes, April was a Busy Month for us, with alot of roadwork and shows. We had a chance to see many familiar faces and places again and great opportunities to perform songs from our soon to be released recording. On June 1st, Rounder Records will release “Didn’t He Ramble – Songs Of Charlie Poole”, a fourteen song recording, re-imagining the music of the legendary North Carolina roots artist. The online pre-release sale started early last month and is doing very well, which is great news to us! We have been getting alot of pre-orders at our recent live appearances.

Rounder has just released two songs from the album, the title song “He Rambled” and “Milwaukee Blues” and a video of “Milwaukee Blues”. If you haven’t had the chance to hear and see them, we hope you will! You can go to David Davis on facebook or David Davis and Warrior River Boys on facebook and check them out!

Here’s the link to pre-order online

You can always reach me at 6359 County Road 1545, Cullman,AL. 35058, if you’d like for me to mail you a copy. The cost is $20 , we’ll pay the postage and packaging and give you a free download card for a 50 song double CD of the band.

Talk soon !


Hurry Up, April!

April will be a busy month for DDWRB. Our online pre-release sale for our comimg recording, “Didn’t He Ramble” Songs of Charlie Poole will begin in the early part of the month. Our band website will be redesigned by then, a facelift reminiscent of the new recording’s artwork. We’ll include alot of the shots from the album’s photo session. We did the photo session in three different Franklin, Tennessee locations early last December. We got alot of great shots and had a real fun day. The locations were really appropriate for the feel of the album. I even got to bring a few little pieces of furniture and things to add to the scenes. One of the shots we did was around an old Victrola I had bought a few months before the shoot was scheduled. I had decided we didn’t have a place for it and tried to sell it twice with no luck. So when we were thinking about some things that would look appropriate and help the interior shots, someone mentioned a Victrola would be great, but where could we get one? So we used my Victrola in the shot and it looked great! Like I said, I had tried twice to sell it, I’m really glad that didn’t happen. Now Cindy and I just decided to find it a place in the house! Yes, it plays too!

April is a busy month of roadwork for the band, also! We’ll be in Lucketts,Virginia, Bristol, Virginia, Suwanee, Georgia, Nacodoches, Texas, Sheffield, Mass., Bainbridge, New York, and Saratoga Springs, New York. You can get the particulars for each date on our website. Hope to see you at one of these shows, we’ll be doing alot of songs from the new recording!

Hope you’ll check back often to the website ( and blog. I have been writing a new one each Monday, but barely made it this time. Got busy around the house today and stormy weather was coming through the area tonight.

Talk again soon,


“Didn’t He Ramble” Songs of Charlie Poole. …, the rest of the story……

You’ve always heard the songwriters that said that great song just poured down on them and they couldn’t write it down fast enough. Then , if I remember correctly, Thomas Edison said his work was a large percentage of perspiration and a small percentage of inspiration. I imagine that is how most things happen. The story of our up in coming recording certainly has both these elements and more.

You can say the seeds for this particular recording concept (Songs of Charlie Poole) started their germination process in the very early 2000’s at the University of Chicago Folk Festival. That’s where I met Chip Covington. He and his band were working with Roni Stoneman that night and we were there for a couple of nights also. We became fast friends that night. Chip had owned and ran, as a real young man, one of Chicago’s best known Blues Club’s for twenty years, Biddy Mulligans, all the while loving the banjo and bluegrass music and getting real good at that too. For the last number of years, he has promoted Chicago’s premier Bluegrass Music series in Evanston, IL. I found out quickly that Chip was attracted to music that had hair on it, music that he could feel. That was all I needed to know. Add his enthusiasim for life and that infectious smile and he was a person anybody would like! Well, by 2005, we were selecting material for our “Troubled Times” recording and Chip had been working closely with the band for about a year, as friend, sounding board, advisor, booking agent, just wearing alot of hats and helping us greatly. One night he called and said I should listen to this song and it would be a great one to record. The song was Charlie Poole’s “Milwaukee Blues”. We did really like the song and worked up a good arrangement and did it on the road for a while before the recording. It went down real easy in the studio and the cut came out real good. It became a regular in our stageshows and was a crowd favorite.

Not long after “Troubled Times” was released I was talking to Ken Irwin of Rounder Records and he mentioned the “Milwaukee Blues” song and said he enjoyed our treatment of the song. We had signed with Rounder in 1989 and recorded two projects with them, giving us great, early credibility in the business. He mentioned that we should do an entire album of Charlie Poole material. We were right in the middle of the record release and working alot of dates in support of the release and just let Ken’s suggestion slip my mind. Hard to believe, being the astute businessman I am, that I would let that slip my mind, lol!

Fast-foward nine years, it’s December 2014, the band is in Nashville at a benefit show. After the show, Stan Wilemon and I are standing around talking to Chip Covington, who’d came down from Chicago. Ken Irwin was visiting from Boston and stopped by to visit a minute. During our quick conversation, Ken said, ” have you thought any more about doing that Charlie Poole album that I mentioned to you ten years ago”? I told him truthfully I hadn’t, but it was a good idea!

Stan and I talked about that on our drive home and with Robert Montgomery’s help started looking into Charlie Poole’s repretoire and quickly realized his material would be wonderful to evolve into a more modern form of traditional music and would be very comfortable for the way we played music.

We did the recording in Sparta, IL. at Gary Gordon’s Inside – Out Studios starting in July 2015, working as our road schedule and Gary’s schedule allowed and by August, 2016 we had finished. Gary finished mixing by December and I asked Gary to send the master to Ken at Rounder. I called Ken and told him that we had recorded that Charlie Poole project that we were talking about two years earlier and it needed a home. Luckily, he, Marion Leighton-Levy and Bill Nowlin did love the record and agreed to promote the project.

I hadn’t even mentioned to Ken that we were going to do the album, he didn’t know anything about it until Gary sent him the master.

Later on, I was happy to hear how foundational Charlie Poole and his music was to the three original Rounders. This fact made their accepting our treatment of the material even more pleasing to us. Also, the ultra- care that they, as well as the Rounder Nashville family, have given to every aspect of the album’s production has been wonderful!

This new recording, “Didn’t He Ramble” Songs of Charlie Poole is scheduled for release in very early summer. An online pre-release pre-sale will begin very soon! Check back often to the blog or website for particulars! We’ll add some extras to the pre-release package, as a way to say thank you for ordering early!

I plan on having a new blog for you each Monday and some in between. I do hope you will enjoy the blogs and hope you will check back often!

If there’s any subjects you think would be interesting for a blog, please let me know!

Talk soon,



“Hurry, Hurry, Read All About It!” The Latest from DDWRB

Hello Everybody!

Hope all is going well with you and, if your like us, ready for Spring to arrive for good!

Wanted to let you know some new things happening with the Band, all exciting to us, for sure!

We’ll have a new record release coming soon on Rounder Records. “Didn’t He Ramble” Songs of Charlie Poole is the title. You folks that know the name Charlie Poole and his importance to early roots music know of his great catalogue of recorded material (1925-1930), that it was greatly accepted by that generation’s audience and know the importance of evolving, re-imagining and re-establishing that material to offer today’s audiences, as artists from many genres have done throughout the years, making Poole an iconic figure in the Roots Music progression.

We had released one of Charlie Poole’s songs, “Milwaukee Blues” on an earlier recording and realized how rich his catalogue was and how easily his material evolved into the way we played music, and felt it important to acquaint today’s audiences (if they weren’t familiar) to the name Charlie Poole and his importance to the Music Chain. In Bob Dylan’s 2017 acceptance lecture for the Nobel Prize in Literature, he mentioned Charlie Poole.

We’re happy of the recording concept and the way the recording came together, it’s really a good one that we think you’ll love. There will be a pre-release, online presale offer coming soon and we’ll keep you updated on that and hope you’ll pre-order early! We’ll have some extra things to add to the pre-sale package as a way of saying “thank you” for ordering early!
Check back often to the band’s website and blog (, we’ll keep you posted on everything!

Also, wanted to welcome The Andrea Roberts Agency ( to our musical family and tell you that Andrea will be handling DDWRB’s booking. I’ve known Andrea for alot of years, we’re really comfortable being a part of ARA’s artist roster. She’s a great person, a great business person, a traditionalist with a passion for the music and it’s promotion. She’s also a great bass player, as alot of you will remember when she travelled in some great bands.

I’ll close for now, do remember to check back often, I’ll have a new blog every week (each Monday) and maybe some throughout the week! Alot of good things going on, and we want you to know about it! A blog is a great way for us to stay connected and get to know each other better! Got alot of stories and news to share and I’ve realized how much I do enjoy the writing part of this!

You take care, talk soon!

David Davis

Shows…Shows and Studios

Well, Summer is here and it really feels good to me! The shows are going outside and the beautiful outdoor parks are ready to come to life with music and summer fun (and maybe a mosquito bite here and there)! We’re scheduled for a number of festivals and shows in a lot of different areas of the Country and look forward to the travelling and getting tbe chance to visit with you.
It’s been a few years since we have released a studio recording and we’ve got some ambitious plans to get a lot of music recorded this year. It’s funny how time gets away, you get in a routine of doing shows, look up and realize that you haven’t recorded in a while. We’ve been preparing for three different recording concepts and hope to have two of them completed this year.
October, 2014 was the anniversary month of The Warrior River Boys starting as a touring band thirty years ago (whoa!). We wanted to commemorate this and decided we would compile a CD (it turned out to be a double CD) that included as many different versions of the band that we could find. I have been given and kept a lot of the band’s “live recordings” and video through the years, so I had a few boxes and many shows to pick from. Robert Montgomery and I talked about creating a retrospective from all this material and he undertook this earbending job with vigor. Robert has been a big part of our show for 7 or 8 years now and he had recorded just about all of our sets since coming here. He is a great music historian and appreciates early forms of rural music and it’s evolution. He understands well the importance of preserving and presenting this to the public. I was more than confident to set down the material and give Robert the reins to produce this live retrospective. After he finished, and let me listen to the sequenced material, it was like going back to show one (in Jemison, Alabama in October, 1984) and proceeding through thirty years of memories in one and half hours. I could remember things from most of the songs, the crowds, the reception, the excitement of being there (whether or not we had time to take a bath after the usual 500 mile overnight drive, lol). It’s amazing how fast time gets away, how a memory ten, twenty or even thirty years ago seems and feels like only a few short years ago. I guess most of us know how that feels, but still it’s weird, isn’t it?
We’ll keep you updated on this particular retrospective CD and the release date on it, and hope you’ll get you one. Also, we’re planning on seeing the inside of the recording studio a lot this year and will keep you informed of all that stuff. Hope you’ll check into this blog regularly and I’ll try to keep you something new to chew on. Take care!


The year of 2014 will mark an important milestone in the career of David Davis and the Warrior River Boys. 2014 will be their thirty year anniversary as a touring band. Since starting in the fall of 1984, David and the band have consistently recorded and toured, travelling well over two million miles, garnering a faithful following of friends and fans through scores of personal appearances, television and radio exposure. They have performed in forty-six states, the Bahamas and all Canadian Provinces at a majority of the largest outdoor festival events and many of the genre’s premier indoor venues. The group’s recorded history has been preserved and distributed by some of the most influential labels in the genre’s history; Rounder, Wango, Time Life and Rebel.
David and the band are preparing for a number of special events and surprises to commemorate their “30th Anniversary Tour”. October, 2014 will officially mark the thirty year birthday for the band, but plans are to kick-off the “30th Anniversary Tour” in January, 2014 and extend the tour through October, 2015.

Carrying an Alabama tradition and directly linked to the origins of Bluegrass Music, David Davis’ love of traditional roots music grew organically. Back in the 1930’s, his father and two uncles played and sang in the brother style traditions of early Country music. Uncle Cleo joined Bill Monroe as the very first Bluegrass Boy in 1938. David’s father, Leddell, went off to WW11 and lost his right hand in a mortar accident. While his Dad’s dream of making music may have been shattered, he never lost his love and devotion to the music. In fact, David carried his father’s love innocently down the road, never suspecting the impact on his life.
David Davis and the Warrior River Boys offer audiences a rare glimpse at the role of frontman in American music. In Chicago Blues, it was Muddy Waters and the legendary Howlin’ Wolf. In Bluegrass music, it was Bill Monroe. Rather than operating under trendy “hit” oriented marketing schemes, frontman/mandolinist David Davis simply nurtures his roots with integrity, tonal depth and prose.
After a couple of Rounder label projects in the early 90’s, they recorded heavily on Ray Davis’ Wango label throughout the decade and into the early 2000’s. These legendary “Basement Recordings” have garnered a cult following over the years, many sides resurfacing on the Time Life label. David and the band snapped rave reviews with their self-titled 2004 release on Rebel Records-

“…sure-fire picking and train whistle harmonies…”

The “White Album” was indeed a turning point for the band. In a SING OUT magazine review,

“…An excellent instrumentalist in the Monroe style of mandolin, Davis is among the most emotive, capable and underappreciated singers in Bluegrass…”

Their highly acclaimed Rebel release from 2006, “Troubled Times” and 2009’s “Two Dimes And A Nickle” continued to take the listener deeper into WRB soul and offer testimony to the band’s musical evolution. In a 2009 CD review,

“….A David Davis & the Warrior River Boys album sounds like no one else’s. While certainly commercially palatable, Davis occupies a fine niche within the bluegrass market. He doesn’t seem to have the populist appeal of a Skaggs, Cherryholmes, Lawson, or Vincent, but he possesses an artistic vision as defined and assured as any of those mentioned. David Davis albums have a bluesy, literary quality setting them apart from the annual releases of several more commercially successful artists. Witness his 2004 treatment of Bill Grant’s “In The Shade of the Big Buffalo” or “Chancellorsville” and “The River Ran Black” from 2006’s Troubled Times. To give them their proper due, Davis albums should come leather-bound as is afforded the finest classic writing….” “….Like the best of Johnny Cash’s recorded material, Davis’s songs possess a cinematic scope ….”. “….fresh, vibrant, and inventive, a classic recording.”


After nearly thirty years of continual touring and recording, David and the Band have received many laurels, both individually and collectively. A 2010 inductee to the Alabama Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, David is widely recognized as one of the foremost practitioners of the Monroe mandolin technique. Collectively, David Davis and the Warrior River Boys continue to be at the forefront of defining Traditional music to today’s audience.
Whether festivals, big city nightclubs, concert halls or local coffeehouses,

“…frontman David Davis & Warrior River Boys jam a big bluegrass wallop into a concise package for today’s audiences…” “…hard-charging energy that makes it stand out from the pack…”


Silver Dollar City Hello all!! We just got back in from a great four day trip to one of my favorite places in the Country, Silver Dollar City, in Branson, MO. We worked there Memorial Day Weekend, Friday through Monday, at the Bluegrass and Bar-Be-Que Festival. This great event stretched from May 10th through June 3rd and was voted as the #1 Bluegrass Event of 2011 and is nominated for the same award this year. We did sixteen shows to large and appreciative audiences, (I have some great pics on my David Davis Facebook Page). I was told that the crowds for the Festival was larger than ever this year ! We usually get the opportunity to be there every couple of years and it’s always great to get to go back and visit with the SDC Family! Alot of old friends that we’ve known for years, D.A. Callaway, Butch Gregory, Larry Sledge, Rex Burdette and many more folks that we’ve seen there for as long as we’ve been performing there. So many of the Family have been at the City for many years. I don’t blame them, it would be a great place to homestead! If I’m not mistaken, Silver Dollar City started around 1959 or 1960, then around 1969 the “Beverly Hillbillies” television show came out and filmed four episodes in the City, giving SDC and it’s great artists and family a national TV exposure and viewers across the U.S. an opportunity to see and know about this great theme park.
We started our group in late 1984 and had our first opportunities to perform at SDC around 1985 or ’86. Back then, we and alot of the other groups would work nine or eleven straight days during their Bluegrass type festivals. We were just starting to travel a good bit by 1985 and those type trips doing four or five shows a day were really good at getting the band real tight. Back then, we would go to the City’s costume department and get us enough stage clothes to last us the stretch of days at SDC. They had a huge costume department and you could get any type western outfit you wanted to wear. We sported some FINE costumes, I have some pictures from those shows stacked back somewhere, if I can find them, I’ll put some up later. Cindy and were talking about that the other night, back when we first started dating in 1987, the first picture that I gave her was one of those SDC pictures that someone made of me in a western costume, I really want to find that one! White hat, wine vest, white shirt, black string tie and garters around the arms! WOW, WHAT A SIGHT ! Some great memories of those times, we would get us a big room at a Mom and Pop motel with a kitchenette that would sleep everybody and head to the grocery store down in Branson and load up with Hamburger Helper and feast cheap for a week ! If I started to mention everybody that was playing there back then, I’d surely leave out a bunch of musicians. But just about everybody of my generation that has stayed in the business and still performs today was knocking it out at The City back then. Plus every other generation, younger and older was there back then, too! I remember the first time I saw The Dillards was at the big Amphitheatre there, and sitting in with The House Band, The Horse Creek Band, singing “The Old, Old House” and thinking how great and tight they were. Meeting and becoming friends with Butch Gregory and Larry Sledge and “Arkie” Phillips from The Horse Creek Band. I’d knew of Larry Sledge from his days with James Monroe and Norman and Nancy Blake, his being on Bill Monroe’s recording of “Evening Prayer Blues” on the “Master of Bluegrass” album. They all were such kind, incouraging people to a young musician, just great people! Everytime I talk to D.A. Callaway, I’ll ask him about all the gang, how they’re doing, etc. I had the chance to visit with Butch and D.A. at length during our visit this year. Sadly I missed Larry Sledge, we were working different stages at the same time, but I know he’s doing well! Arkie Phillips worked as the bassman for Horse Creek for many, many years. He was one of the best I ever saw on that instrument. The last time we were at the City, prior to this trip, was about three years ago. Arkie was not in good health, but still performing and playing very well. He had lost his wife recently and with his own failing health, everyone was really concerned for him. Arkie passed away not too long after his wife. Him not being up there on stage with Horse Creek, I know has been hard on the band, he was a wonderful person and musician and will be greatly missed.
A few years ago, some of us decided to go down into Branson to the Andy Williams Theatre after we finished working at the City that particular day. We were lucky to get front row seats, my first time to see Andy Williams in person. Glen Campbell was guesting at the theatre for about a month, if I remember correctly, so we really had a special treat seeing him with a small, super tight and hot band. He did a tremendous set and then performed with Andy Williams for a finale. A memorable night of music. I’ve always loved Glen Campbell’s music, he and his band were super!
As I told you earlier, The “Bluegrass and Bar-Be-Que” festival at Silver Dollar City won the Bluegrass Event of the Year in 2011, I think it’ll be hard to beat it for the same award in 2012. If you haven’t had a chance to go out , you really should. I know you’ll be glad you did, nonstop entertainment, great rides for the kids, fun- family-styled atmosphere, great food ! It’s all there, waiting for you ! I’ll be looking forward to the next time and I know Marty, Robert, Stan and Ben will be too!


We had a fun trip yesterday, fun for many different reasons. Robert Montgomery, Stan Wilemon and myself were booked as a trio to play a venue called The Outpost Music Barn. It’s located around Tallapoosa, GA, in an area called Waco. My first time there and I believe Stan’s too, Robert has played there in years past. The Outpost is a great place to hear Bluegrass music, a real family atmosphere. If you’re in the area, you should stop in for a show!! There’s never too many trips where you leave home at noon and are back by midnight, that’s one of the fun parts of this particular gig, plus the audience was just great, very appreciative and attentive!! Also, for me, getting the chance to go back in the area where my Dad was born is always special. He and his brothers and sisters were all born in Cedartown, GA. just a short twenty miles north of Tallapoosa. I remember one of the very first shows we ever played was in Cedartown. My Dad went with us and it rained sooo hard that night, I remember we all had to take shelter in the park.

Also, that night I met and became friends with a fellow that has remained one of my closest friends, Randall Franks. Randy was three or four years younger than me, and was already fronting a bluegrass band called The Peachtree Pickers. Off and on, through the years, he has made trips with us as a part of the band, filling in for someone (he can play and sing just about any part or instrument), or as a special guest on the show. Randy has used our group as part of his Bluegrass and Country show in years past. I’ll bet he don’t remember this, but I learned how to play “Katy Hill” from him, sitting in a motel room in North Carolina in 1985. We’ve travelled alot together over the years with the band, and just him and I going to shows. We’ve had some great talks and times, good memories. Randy had an opportunity to travel with Bill Monroe, as a Bluegrass Boy, on fiddle and bass fiddle when he was real young. A great opportunity, Bill always appreciated Randy’s talent and business sense, and Randy certainly made the most of that great opportunity and continued to have a close relationship with Bill throughout Bill’s life. Randy also studied acting as well as music, and by the late 1980’s, he had an opportunity to be a regular and have a featured role in the huge T.V. series “In The Heat of The Night”, starring Carroll O’Conner. Randy told me that “Heat” was filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana (or close-by) its first season and then moved to Covington, Georgia (not too many miles west of Atlanta and Randy’s home) for the remainder of the show’s run. Randy joined the show at this time and worked for five or six seasons. The show being filmed in Covington allowed Randy to sleep in his bed at home, much of the time. Now that would be a great gig, wouldn’t it? I remember one time, Randy and I were driving to North Carolina for three days of work in the early ’90’s, so Randy says, “let’s drop by Covington, I’ll show you around, I need to pick up some ‘Heat’ souvenirs to sell at the shows”. It was my first time in Covington, but as we drove into town, there’s the big clock on the building that you see on every opening to the T.V. show. Randy showed me the building that was used for the Police Station and different sites around town that were used regularly on the show. Naturally, now they were being used for what they were, i.e.: library, etc., but I recognized every one of these places from watching the show. So we go into this store where they had a ton of “Heat” souvenirs and Randy introduced me to the owner and went to the back to get a load of souvenirs. I’m talking to this guy about his experiences of having this show filmed in his town for years and he’s telling me great stories. All the while I’m thinking, this guy is the spitting image of Carroll O’Conner, so I say, “you know, you look alot like Carroll O’Conner, has anyone ever told you that?”. He tells me that he was Mr. O’Conner’s stand-in for a number of years on the show and shows me a framed picture with him and the Chief standing side-by-side, both dressed in their police uniforms; it was hard to tell which one was which. That was my only time in Covington, but I remember they had the cheapest gas I’d seen anywhere back then, I wonder what gas costs in Covington now? LOL

As I mentioned earlier, my Dad’s family was from Cedartown, GA. After most of the children were born, they moved to Cullman County, Alabama (around 25 miles west of where we live now) in the late 1920’s and grew up in that area. Their Mother died when my Dad was seven, there were older and younger siblings than my Dad, the Depression was in full swing, it had to have been a real hard time for them. So by 1938, Leddell (my Dad) was seventeen and Cleo Davis (his older brother) was nineteen. Haskell was a couple of years younger than Daddy and Bobby was three or four years younger, yet. They all grew up loving music, singing and learning to play instruments. Cleo was the oldest boy, so he decided to go back to Cedartown where some of the kinfolks lived and try to get a job there. When he gets to Georgia, some of the family tells him about reading a newspaper ad in the Atlanta Journal about someone looking for a guitar player and singer. So reluctantly, he goes to the address in the ad and sees some musicians leaving the trailer that is parked there. He knocks on the door and takes his turn in the barrel, the guy he’s auditioning for never introduces himself and asks him what he wants to sing. Cleo tells him that he really likes that Monroe Brothers song, “What Would You Give In Exchange For Your Soul,” the guy tells him he knows it and they start to sing. Cleo told me that quickly he realized that this guy WAS one of the voices that he had heard on the record, and that thought just scared him to death, so he stopped singing and said, “you’re one of the Monroe Brothers, aren’t you?”, the guy says ‘”Yes, I’m Bill”, now let’s try that again”. Long story short, Cleo got the job and became the Original Bluegrass Boy. Actually, Bill Monroe hadn’t even named the band, that would come a few months later when Bill added a bass player (Amos Garren) and a fiddle player (Art Wooten). In the very beginning, Bill and Cleo travelled as a duo while Bill looked for the right people to build his first band. By October 1939, Bill felt they were ready to audition at WSM in Nashville for the Grand Old Opry. They arrived without an appointment, did the audition for Judge Hay and the rest is history! Bill Monroe started a relationship with WSM Radio and the Mother Church of Country Music that lasted around fifty-seven years and twenty year old Cleo Davis was blessed with some of the greatest memories of a lifetime. Cleo left the group in the fall of 1940, moving to Lakeland, Florida. He served in WW2, returned to Lakeland, and lived there the rest of his life. He passed away in 1986.

One of the dividends of travelling and playing for a number of years is the memories of being at that place or the other and things that happened there. Just about every place has a story and a good memory or two. Hope you enjoyed this one !!!

Till next time, David

Continuing On The Warrior’s Path To Phoenix And Beyond


So we’re ready to leave New Mexico and head to Phoenix, and the tow truck driver says “one of you guys can ride in the tow truck with my boy, the rest of you will have to ride with me in my truck, I’ll need to fill up the truck before we leave and you’ll need to pay for it”, “Sounds good I say”, just thankful to have a way to Phoenix. Let me tell you, that truck must have a gas tank the size of battle ship, and he only used “Ethel”, or high test in today’s lingo. So, we get our stuff in the truck and the caravan heads West. I must confess that Marty ended up riding with the son in the tow truck, I still owe you one for that, Marty! All the way to Phoenix, the father was telling us about himself and his adventures, after a few of those stories, we’re just staring forward, glassy eyed, and not saying much, then he got started telling about his son (who was driving Marty and the van), and the stories just got crazier. It seemed a long way to Phoenix, but we finally made it to the Ford Dealership in the late afternoon, dropped the van and paid the guys. They swapped vehicles, the son taking Dad’s truck and a handful of cash for a night on Phoenix town. The dealership folks got us a shuttle van and took us to a motel close by and said they’d get on the van in the morning. Things seemed better, good motel, a dealership to work on the van and with a little luck, we could make the thursday show in Chico, California.
We’re up and ready to get back to the dealership by checkout on Wednesday morning and end up sitting in the waiting room most of the day while they’re working. They even worked past quitting time, just to get us on the road. So when they finished the shop manager says, “this would have been a quick, easy and inexpensive deal, but it took forever to fix what the tow man’s son had torn out of the van”. By this time, if I remember correctly, I was $1800.00 in the hole on the van. I didn’t have enough cash with me to pay the bill, so Bill Sage pays the total. Bill, like Charlie Cline, always carried a good bit of cash on them, they were always buying fiddles or other instruments on the road. There were a number of times that those two guys got me out of a tight by having a good bit of cash on them. They knew that I would pay them back before the trip was over and were always there when you needed them, both onstage and off. By the time we’re pulling out of the Dealership, it’s getting dusky dark. I start driving and I can immediately tell that the van is not running right, it’s missing, running real rich, and gas seems to be pouring through it, not running good , but running. So we keep heading West, and by daybreak on Thursday morning, I’m seeing California for the first time in a van running pretty bad. We make it to Chico in plenty of time before the show and go to the promoter’s house. He’s a very nice guy, let’s us shower there and get some food. I tell him the van’s running bad, and does he know anybody that can look at it before the show. He said he knew a shadetree mechanic just down the road, so we drove over there. After the guy looks at it and listens for a minute, he says, ” the timing is off a couple of clicks, this thing must have been running bad, way to rich and drinking the gas. He quickly fixed the problem and finally our vehicle troubles seemed far behind us. Finally, we could get back to why we came , to play and enjoy some music and try to please some new folks in a new part of the Country. After Chico, we played three or four more nights in different parts of California to great crowds, who really liked the music we played. By the time we started back home, the first part of the trip, certainly wasn’t forgotten, but a fairly distant memory.
Really, what got me thinking about this long story was when I told you that Bill Sage was in the Band when we were making our first trips to the West Coast. For the next three or four years, we made a number of treks out West and western Canada, pretty much all the Provinces. Those type trips cover a ton of miles and takes alot of travel time. Bill Sage was an iron man behind the wheel, one of the best drivers you’ll ever see. On bad road conditions, I always wanted him to drive, he was the best on icey roads. He had lived in Maryland and Pennsyvania all his life, and just knew how to drive safely on bad roads. His driving probably kept us out of danger many times. Bill was older than the rest of the band but could work any of us down and could still be going when we were too tired to keep going. He could drive all night, get on stage and rip through the theme where we had to try and hold on just to keep up with the rhythm. For around six years, Bill was a great help to our band. Him living in Pennsylvania, he had to travel as much as we did, just to meet the band or meet us where we played. After Bill left the WRB’s, he went on to play with White Mountain Bluegrass and The Wildwood Valley Boys from Indiana. Bill’s health had not been good for his last few years, but he still had the drive and desire to travel and perform and still did it very well. He passed away travelling on the road with The Wildwood Valley Boys. They told me he had played great that night and when they got on the road after the show, Bill went back to his bunk to get some sleep and just never woke up. Bill crossed over travelling down the road to the next show, I imagine that would have been the way he would have wanted it to be. I remember he always told me, “David , I’d rather have friends than money, any time”. I can honestly say, he was blessed with many, many friends all over the Country, and I believe he was a happy man and ready to go. For myself, and I imagine anybody that ever met Bill, we miss him very much and fondly remember him in wonderful memories. He was one of the best, a real pro. So all this long story was just to acquaint you a little better with a great man and musician and to say, Thank you, Bill .


Ever since getting the idea and wanting to start a regular correspondance (blog) with Bluegrass friends and acquaintances, I see that other folks have a “title” for their blog. So borrowing an idea from an old friend, Mitch Scott, I’ll name this blog “The Warrior’s Path”. Many of our friends will remember Mitch as being, not only a Warrior River Boy, but a partner with me for the first ten years of our travels, 1984 through 1994. We started a “Fan Club” for a few years back in the 90’s and we used “The Warrior’s Path” as the title for the Fan Club Newsletter. I found a few of the old newsletters
recently while going through some stuff and really enjoyed reading them, they were really good, imHo ! We had a great Fan Club president and she did a great job, Shirley Clark was her name, she lived in Virginia and was a great help to the Band handling that time-consuming job. Her job re-located her and she had to give up the fan club chores, and sadly, the fan club, too.
“The Warrior’s Path” does seem a perfect title, it has been “a
long and winding road”, as they say, with so many fun, funny, scary, humbling, exciting, tiring, and every other adjective you can think of, situations imaginable. Around twenty seven years and closing in on two million miles of travelling here and there, mostly there !, and still being Blessed to have the health and opportunity to still be at it! I noticed on my Facebook page this evening a friend’s post and picture showing The Bear Bridge Band and the WRB’s playing a finale together at the Weston Playhouse in Weston, VT. back in 1994. It brought back really great memories, I remember how the Town Square looked in Weston, that beautiful old Theatre with it’s balcony and how good the music sounded in that room, how we’d met the gentleman, Fernan Parker, who would book us regularly at the Playhouse for the next number of years and always package us with the Bear Bridge Band,
Robert, Lillian, Tex and Dave, some of our oldest and dearest friends.
The old theatre would fill up with great crowds each year. Every time I see an old friend, see a old photo, I think of things that happened at that time, place, etc. Weston was the first show we ever played with Bill Sage, he played fiddle with us at Weston in early 1995. I got some pictures from that show. But the back story about Bill working with us that day is an interesting one I’d love to share. We had just lost a four year member, Tommy Chapman, on fiddle. Tommy and his wife were expecting they’re first child and he really needed to be at home more than he had been in the previous four years. During the late eighties, we were having the opportunity to travel and work just about all the time and we were doing everything we could to establish ourselves in the business. Performing in 35 states and travelling seventy five thousand miles per year were par for the course, and by the 1990’s , we were continuing at that pace and were fortunate enough to have our music recorded and distributed by the largest independent record label in the business, Rounder Records, of Cambridge, MA. We had recorded our second Rounder project in Sturbridge, MA. a few months earlier, at Longview Farm (another great story for another time), the record was out and doing well, it wasn’t the best of times to replace a fiddle player. Tommy had been in the band around four years and certainly was a favorite to the crowds we played . So, we’re going to Weston, VT. and need a fiddle player on real short notice. I call my buddy in Lanesboro, MA., Robert Fraker, who works in the Bear Bridge Band, and ask him does he know any fiddlers up in that part of country that might could do the date with us, Robert says; “I
know a guy that plays your style and could come in cold and make yall “like it”, and that would be Bill Sage. We knew of Bill, we knew that he had a long history working with the best of the Baltimore, MD.
Bluegrass scene in the 1960’s, had worked as a Bluegrass Boy in the early sixties with Bill Monroe, had worked with Red Allen on the Wheeling Jamboree, had been a member of Del McCoury’s early Dixie Pals, had played fiddle on Del’s “High On A Mountain” record (a killer recording !), and was now a member of White Mountain Bluegrass Band (a very popular and a crowd favorite in The New England States and
to overseas Bluegrass audiences) for the last few years.
Robert said he would call Bill and see if he could fill-in with us
on the date. Well, long story shorter, Bill was able to do the date with us, and Rob was right, Bill definitely made us “like it”. I remember Mitch saying after the show, “I’ve never heard or played ‘Fire On The Mountain’ THAT fast” (the band exhales Ditto!). Bill came into the band as a regular member a few months after that date and worked with us for around the next six years. He was a great fellow and musician, we had countless fun experiences together for the next few years. Bill was a part of many of the Ray Davis “Basement Recordings” that we would do in the mid-to-late nineties. We have some recordings that Marty Hays and I did with Bill, Lloyd Douglas and Tommy Freeman, (the writer of “Today’s The Day I Get My Gold watch and Chain”, “The Brambles, Briars and Me”, “Tennessee Line”) in the late 1990’s in a Cullman, AL. studio that I’ve never got around to mixing and releasing. I hope to in the near future !
The first couple of trips we made to the West Coast and western Canada were in the late 1990’s when Bill was a bandmember and they seemed to be heavy-laden with vehicle breakdowns, (we missed our first- ever California date due to breakdowns and bad weather, OH WHAT A WILD STORY THAT WAS). We had started this tour in Memphis with icey roads, then to southeastern Louisiana with a breakdown, an older gentleman at the show got us going again (I just saw the man last month when we were in Louisiana, he said ‘Do you remember me?”, I said “I sure do, you got us back on the road a long time ago”.) Next to Houstan, TX, where the weather and roads had gotten bad, so we creep to West Texas and the weather is so bad the police block the interstate, we chose I-10 West to get to California in January because we thought it being the southern most route west, the weather would be good, WRONG! So now we’re sitting at a truck stop for a day listening to the radio, wondering if we can make California. We hear a trucker say we can go on a two-lane north of I-10 for a number of miles and get back on the interstate further west.”Go west, young man” was calling, so we took it real slow (Bill always drove when the roads were bad, he was THE BEST on ice) on the two-lane and finally got back on the interstate heading west. The roads looked good and we were starting to make good time again and was getting across New Mexico when our ride “just died like you had pulled the plug”. WOULD NOT crank, we were sitting on the side of the road somewhere in New Mexico, with that….”if it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck at all, kind of feeling”(LONESOME)”, so we get in touch with a tow truck, he comes and gets us, tows us to the next town (his town, his garage and his motel, and we’re NOT talkin’ The Hilton), we get some rooms, call the first California date’s promoter, tell him our troubles and that we won’t be able to make the first date, go across the street to the restaurant and have some supper. You know how certain feelings you have at certain times , you never forget. Sitting in that restaurant in New Mexico with Randy Lindley that night looking out that window is engrained in my mind and memory as one of the worst road memories and helpless feelings that I had ever had (at least up to that time,LOL). Nothing but trouble and weather stress from Memphis to New Mexico, we’re going to miss the first California date and we’re not Real sure when we’re going to be gettin’ outta here. As I said, the tow man had a garage in town and he told us his son was a great mechanic, fresh out of jail with a new attitude and would start working on our ride in the morning. “OK, sounds good!” we say and head to the room. We get up early the next morning and walk over to the garage, hoping for brighter news to start the day, and sure enough, there’s the man’s son standing in front of the van with what looked to be every conceivable part that WAS under the hood and a good many parts from underneath lying on the garage floor. We look at him (and he don’t look like the type of fellow that should be OR would ever have had the burning desire to excell in the customer service business, or any other legitimate vocation, OK!), he looks at us, lights a cigarette, and says “I can’t fix this thing!, your gonna have to get my old man (solidified my initial hunch of their tight and loving Father-Son relationship) to tow you to Phoenix (Arizona, that is) to a Ford Dealership. We look back down at the pile of parts on the floor that once was our van and say, “Sounds good, Sir ! Thanks for giving it a shot, we’ll just throw these old parts in the van. Is Daddy up yet? Oh, by the way, is that “Helter Skelter” playing on your boom box?” (just kidding about the song, just wanted you to get the mental picture).
Hey Everybody, This one is getting epic-like, I’ll post for now and continue with the rest of this mini nightmare (I mean adventure !) in a few ! Hope you’re enjoying the blogs, would love to hear you’re comments. Best for now, David