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How Southwestern Ohio left its mark on bluegrass

"Industrial Strength Bluegrass: Southwestern Ohio's Musical Legacy" album cover.
Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
"Industrial Strength Bluegrass: Southwestern Ohio's Musical Legacy" album cover.

In the middle of the 20th century, Southwestern Ohio was to bluegrass what Nashville is to country music.

The artists who made their mark were among the thousands of migrants who moved from the hills and hollers of their Appalachian hometowns to the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.

Smithsonian Folkways has released a two-album celebration of that music called “Industrial Strength Bluegrass: Southwestern Ohio’s Musical Legacy.”

The albums expand upon a collection released in 2021 in conjunction with a book by the same name.

On Cincinnati Edition, we talk about the industrial stamp Southwestern Ohio has left on bluegrass music and how the new release showcases it.


  • Joe Mullins, founder of Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, producer of the “Industrial Strength Bluegrass” albums
  • Curtis Ellison, Ph.D., emeritus professor of history and American studies, Miami University, and co-editor of the book “Industrial Strength Bluegrass”
  • Ed Cunningham, leader, Comet Bluegrass All Stars

Miami University is a financial supporter of Cincinnati Public Radio.

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