Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys are celebrating their Billboard Bluegrass Album Chart that was released on Stanley Family Records last year. Even into 2018, the band is still regularly appearing on that coveted Top 15 chart. This self-titled album was the first release for the group since Ralph II took over the Clinch Mountain Boys band name in 2016 per the wishes of his late father Dr. Ralph Stanley.
The band includes Clinch Mountain Boy John Rigsby on fiddle, mandolin and vocals; Alex Leach on banjo and vocals; Randall Hibbitts on the upright bass and vocals; and Ralph Stanley II on the guitar and lead vocals. This band configuration brings a lot of talent, energy and humor to the stage as they perform old-time favorites, bluegrass hits and new original material.
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 6 solo albums under his belt, along with the highly acclaimed duet album with his father titled Side by Side.
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 legend, most would probably conclude that it would have to 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 because...well...just because. Famous by default, so to speak and doubtless those are real, tangible advantages. But then there's the downside- pressure. The learning curve, the whole growth process with all its 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 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 occasionally traveling with the Clinch Mountain Boys on the road, 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 & The Clinch Mountain Boys. This is the first recording released since Ralph II honored his father's wishes by taking over the Clinch Mountain boys name. These big shoes are being filled by the talents of previous Clinch Mountain Boy John Rigsby on fiddle and mandolin, Alex Leach on banjo, Randall Hibbits on the upright bass, and Ralph II on guitar.
Ralph II has had 2 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 6 solo albums under his belt, along with the highly acclaimed duet album with his father titled "Side by Side." When not traveling, Ralph II enjoys his time at home with his wife Kristi and their children Taylor and Ralph III.
Alex Leach is a 29 year old native of East Tennessee who is a multi instrumentalist, and currently plays banjo for Ralph Stanley II and The Clinch Mountain Boys. Alex has been promoting Traditional Bluegrass and Mountain Music on WDVX Radio in Knoxville since he was 9 years old. He won SPBGMA Bluegrass DJ of the year at age 13 (in 2003) and again at age 15 (2005.) Recently, he stated, “I have always shared a deep love for mountain music and Appalachian traditions, and I think it’s a great privilege to get to share this wonderful music with people everywhere I go!” When not touring with Ralph II, Alex still hosts The Bluegrass Special every Tuesday night on WDVX. He just released his brand new album “Why Sure It Is!”
I grew up in the mountains of Southwest Virginia in the little coal mining town of Grundy, Virginia about an hour from one of my musical heroes Dr Ralph Stanley never dreaming that I would become one of his Clinch mountain Boys someday. But that dream came true in 2012 as I came on board as the Bass player.
I had previously worked a short stint with Dave Evans and River Bend and a couple years with Ralph Stanley II before getting the opportunity to work for Dr. Stanley. I'm am now back working for Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys and really enjoying my time on the road with him.