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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Lee Allen & the Dew Mountain Boys

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AndyBlueBanjo - Posted - 11/29/2014:  08:51:08

I a banjo picker in Michigan and over the years I have amassed a pretty solid collection of bluegrass records.  I have 2 records from a group called Lee Allen and the Dew Mountain Boys.  They are one of my favorite groups, yet all I know about them is from the 2 records I have.  I'm just looking to learn more about them.  Their records are on Old Homestead.  Any info anyone has would be great.  I just love these records.  Great songs, great harmonies, great banjo picking, solid all around.  Thanks!  ~Andy

Buzzbomb - Posted - 11/30/2014:  08:26:13

Hi Andy,

Lee Allen was a school friend of Roy Lee Centers, which I guess is how come the Clinch Mountain Boys provide backing on his first 1970 Jalyn LP "Songs Of Love And Tragedy".

You can also find a couple of live tracks on the live various artists "Michigan Bluegrass Festival Vol. 1 1974" LP - see The version of "Kicking Mule" on there features a young Lennie Centers (Roy Lee's son) on banjo... just a couple of  months after his dad was murdered. (PM me if you need to hear the LP)

Lee Allen later married Roy Lee's widow, Lucille & there's some stuff on you tube featuring them and Lennie...

I also found this:

The later Jalyn LP "I'm Leaving You Darlin'" from 1974 featured Ron Thomason, who also was a Clinch Mountain Boy... and of course is leader in Dry Branch Fire Squad... Finally, the only other think I've managed to find out is that Lee Allen appears on the first "Winterhawk Scholarship Album" 1986 - I haven't heard that one though...



Ron Thomason - Posted - 12/05/2014:  08:19:01

After I left the Clinch Mt. Boys, I performed off and on with Lee Allen for a couple of years. The banjo player on all of Lee's albums was a great performer and tenor singer named Lloyd Hensley. Lee had a small rotation of musicians through his band during the years he performed and recorded which included folks like me, but also Neil Brackett (formerly with Larry Sparks' band), Jack Lynch, and mandolin player named "Little David" whose whole name I forget, but not to be confused with Dorsey Harvey who was also referred to occasionally by that name.
Ironically I never heard Lee refer to being a friend of Roy Lee's at any time during the periods that I performed and travelled with his band. I do know that he admired Roy Lee very much as well as his other two "idols"; Larry Sparks and Ralph Stanley. I did indeed perform on the album that he made with Ralph's band, the Clinch Mountain Boys. It was Roy Lee who played the banjo on that album and did much of the tenor singing. Ralph, as I recall, did some tenor singing as well on a couple of trios where Roy Lee sang baritone. I cannot remember if George Shuffler did any singing that day, but I do know that he contributed one of the most amazing displays of musical ability and endurance that I have ever seen or ever even heard of: George had played lead guitar on most of the cuts that day at Lee's request. When everything was done, the album had no bass on it. I suppose, though I never knew for certain, that Lee intended to have the bass dubbed in later. George, being the wonderful gentleman and very generous person that he always was, told the band to "hold up boys, I'm gonna finish this for Lee and save him a few bucks." He then put on the headsets, told the engineer to run the tape, and without stopping till the whole thing was done and without even listening on each cut to the few beats of the kick-off dubbed in all those bass tracks with his inimitable active, walking bass, changing keys and times as needed without the slightest glitch. When he was done, he was bent over in fatigue and dripping perspiration from his head and his clothing. I still love to listen to that LP occasionally knowing that it contained one of the greatest, and least known, performances in all of bluegrass history.
On another note, I have no reason to believe that we did that session for any other reason than that we were paid. That was a difficult time in the Clinch Mt. Boys' history for making money. We worked almost constantly at any job we could get to in the time we had to get there, and Lee himself told me that he had paid to have us on his session. I know that each of us band members was paid that day, and I can say without compunction that no matter how difficult times were, Ralph always paid his band. rt

pickNgrin - Posted - 12/05/2014:  08:29:57


I see that you signed up today for the Banjo Hangout and posted your memories of working with Ralph and Lee. Thanks for taking the time to do it! This kind of thing can't be found anywhere else. It is awesome to have pickers like you who contribute here!


Buzzbomb - Posted - 12/05/2014:  11:24:21

Great to read Ron's post!

I thought I'd better check I hadn't got the Roy Lee thing mixed up so here's an article on Lee Allen from Bluegrass Unlimited - April 1975. I'd actually thought there was a "Notes & Queries" piece, but that will take a while to dig out...

fgodbey - Posted - 12/06/2014:  11:24:09

Great post, Ron; thanks!   First-person accounts are the best kind; tell us more when you get a chance. 

The mandolin player you mention might have been David Cox.  He played around the Cincinnati area years ago, sometimes with Junior McIntyre & Jim McCall, and was a cousin, I think, of Larry Sparks.


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