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Ronnie Reno & the Reno Tradition

Portfolio – 2002 (Shell Point)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Ronnie Reno & the Reno Tradition

Without enough people noticing, Ronnie Reno has quietly built a distinguished career in bluegrass and country music. The son of first-generation pioneer Don Reno, he played mandolin with his dad, bass with the Osborne Brothers, guitar with Merle Haggard and with his brothers Dale (mandolin) and Don Wayne (banjo). Now that the latter have decamped to join Hayseed Dixie, Ronnie's put together a new band and released a well-crafted, enjoyable look back on his career.

The material here reaches as far back as hits for his dad ("I'm Using My Bible For A Roadmap" and "I Know You're Married But I Love You Still"), and includes Reno's best-known composition, "Boogie Grass Band," a number one hit for Conway Twitty. Though it's a nicely varied program, with a fine group of guests complementing the new band members, Reno's greatest strength lies in his interpretations of his own distinctive songs; his smooth, laid-back approach fits songs like "I Need That Shoulder (After All)" perfectly. This works nicely as a distillation of Ronnie Reno's career to date.