Bobby Osborne is one of bluegrass music’s true innovators. His trailblazing work with The Osborne Brothers, who charted 13 Billboard Country top 100 hits in the 1960s and 70s, took the sounds of the banjo, mandolin and Bobby’s one of a kind tenor voice to a mainstream audience. Blurring the boundaries between bluegrass and country music with the addition of electric bass, drums and cutting edge instrumental performances, the Osborne Brothers are, in a sense, the connective tissue between the first generation creators of bluegrass and newgrass which has in turn paved the way for the diversity and innovation that characterizes contemporary bluegrass music.
Even at 89 years old, when Bobby Osborne could be resting on his many laurels, he is still driven by a desire to push the musical envelope. His current single, a creative reworking of Merle Haggard’s 1960’s classic “White Line Fever” is the latest collaboration between producer/banjoist/Compass co-founder Alison Brown and Osborne since the 2017 release of his GRAMMY-nominated album Original. Feeling that the song needed an additional verse, Brown and co-producer Garry West reached out to Jeff Tweedy (Wilco). Tweedy contributed the perfect handful of lines, telling Osborne’s story with nods to his time in Kentucky and Ohio as well as his 60+ year career on the road. The track features Tim O’Brien and Trey Hensley on harmony vocals and a crack band consisting of Sierra Hull (mandolin), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Trey Hensley (guitar), Todd Phillips (bass) and Brown on banjo.
The new single is a fitting musical follow up to 2017’s Original which earned Osborne extensive press acclaim including a feature on NPR, an IBMA Award for Recorded Event of the Year and his first ever music video for his cover of the Bee Gees’ “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You.” Other highpoints of the album included the never before recorded Darrell Scott song “Kentucky Morning,” and a cover of “Make the World Go Away” featuring Vince Gill, Molly Tuttle and the lush twin fiddles of Buddy Spicher and Matt Combs evoking Music Row circa 1962. About the album Bobby had this to say: “We [The Osborne Brothers] didn’t want to sound like nobody else. And that’s the way I want to be on this CD, too.”