SPARTANBURG, SC – The Reno Gang, a new band whose members include descendants of Don Reno, whom The New York Times credited with co-writing the precursor to the iconic “Dueling Banjos,” announces the release of new album in tribute to the bluegrass icon.
Bad Apples from the Family Tree features 11 tracks from among some 500 Reno composed in a career that spanned more than 50 years and 60 albums. Reno, who started performing at age 12 in Spartanburg, went on to become a revered writer and five-string banjo player. He died in 1984 at age 58. Don Reno’s legacy lives on through his two sons, members of the band, and his grandson, the band’s founder. The Reno brothers, Dale and Don Wayne, are founding veterans of Hayseed Dixie, a touring band formed in 2000 and popular for their bluegrass covers of hard-rock tunes—the name’s a play on the metal band AC/DC.
Kristian Echols, Don Reno’s grandson, had an idea to gather his family members together and give the legendary composer’s works a “rock-‘grass spin.” Kristian is the lead singer of the band and mastermind behind the album; Don Wayne Reno (banjo); Dale Reno (mandolin); and David Bird (bass). Other Reno Gang members on the album include: Dickie Brown (guitar); Ernie Sykes (backing vocals); and Kensley Echols (piano).
While Bad Apples forgoes the celebrated infamous bluegrass “feud,” the Reno Gang covers such Reno classics as “Country Boy Rock” from 1956, during his long collaboration with Red Smiley; 1967’s “Black Snake Moan”; and “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” also featured on The Good Old Boys, produced by the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, with whom Reno performed.