Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-press
Try A Little Kindness
Well, what the heck do you do when you’ve had a 50-year career in music with your brother, having won award after award, having been inducted into music halls of fame, having sold many gold records including classic songs known the world over, and then your brother and partner retires to leave you there standing alone? That was the dilemma facing Bobby Osborne of the legendary Osborne Brothers. His sibling Sonny Osborne decided to retire after a shoulder injury and operation hindered his world famous ability to play the banjo in 2004.
The Osborne Brothers were a part of that 20th century migration when their family moved from Kentucky to Dayton, Ohio and brought their old home music with them. There they started a music career that went from pairing up with bluegrass legend Jimmy Martin to striking out on their own and recording songs like “Ruby,” as well as the first and best version of “Rocky Top.” They were innovators who brought new sounds and instruments into bluegrass music, and were long time members of the Grand Ole Opry who are also in the IBMA Hall Of Honor. But all that ended with Sonny’s decision to hang it up.
So, at 74 years of age Bobby Osborne thought it over, made a decision, turned around and formed a new band called the Rocky Top X-Press, and recorded this fine new CD called “Try A Little Kindness. And the good news is that the band he has formed is very good, and his singing sounds nothing if not rejuvenated. Bobby’s classic one-of-a-kind tenor voice is as strong as ever. The members of the Rocky Top X-Press include Daryl Mosley on bass, his son Bobby Osborne Jr. on guitar, Tim Graves on Dobro, and Dana Cupp on banjo. Also appearing on this CD is Glen Duncan, who does a wonderful job of producing this effort and also adds some of his world class fiddling to the songs as well.
The choice of songs on “Try A Little Kindness” is interesting in itself. They range the gamut from Hazel Dickens’ “West Virginia My Home” to Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” to Bill Monroe’s “Mansions For Me.” Osborne’s tenor voice recalls the mountain music of old with a wonderful rendition of Carter Stanley’s “The Fields Have Turned Brown.” Showing that there is plenty of water left in his musical well, dern if Bobby doesn’t take advantage of the band behind him and come up with a brand new instrumental called “Rocky Top X-Press.” But the highlight of the project for me is a powerful version of Paul Simon’s “Father and Daughter,” which is as good a turn on this heartfelt song as I have heard.