Midnight Ramble host Tom Duffee is joined in the studio by Russell “Mac” McDivitt, "a true historian of country music and bluegrass in the Dayton and Cincinnati areas" for an evening of song and conversation.

The WYSO Archives

Between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s, about three and a half million people migrated from Appalachia to the urban manufacturing centers of the Midwest. Over 40,000 came to the Dayton area from West Virginia, Tennessee, and especially Eastern Kentucky, seeking work at companies like National Cash Register, Frigidaire, and General Motors. They brought their culture and their music along with them. Archives Fellow Jocelyn Robinson brings us the rich mountain heritage in the WYSO audio collection, preserved through the efforts of three local brothers.

Pat Carine, Dave Finster, Nora Dunning and Dave Younkin have been performing together as Mad River Railroad for roughly a year and are now recording a debut album and playing lots of live gigs.  The band visited the WYSO studios for a live set on Kaleidoscope and spoke with host Juliet Fromholt about recording, performing and fusing traditional and progressive bluegrass.

Juliet Fromholt

Previously performing as a trio, Cincinnati's Hickory Robot has been a quartet since 2011.  Last fall the band released sophomore album, Sawyer and has been keeping busy since then performing regionally including opening for Dr. Ralph Stanley.  Hickory Robot visited the WYSO studios for a live set on Excursions and chatted with Niki Dakota about Sawyer and upcoming performances.

Hickory Robot performs on Saturday, September 21st at the Fort Ancient Bluegrass Festival.

Ricky Skaggs has enjoyed a long career as one of the best mandolin players on the planet. He has been playing since he was a small boy. At an early age he met many of his musical idols; Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, Ralph Stanley. He decided that it was finally time to tell his story. And what a story he has to tell in this memoir "Kentucky Traveler - My Life in Music."

Ramblin' with Sugargrove

Jun 5, 2013

On this episode of The Midnight Ramble, host Tom Duffee has Miami County band Sugargrove in the studio.

In the first segment, avid banjoist Duffee learns of the origins of Sugargrove's 1968 Gibson banjo, followed by a live performance of a pair of Bill Monroe tunes: an off-the-cuff rendition of Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky" and a more rehearsed instrumental,  "Jerusalem Ridge."

Fred Bartenstein has been a bluegrass presence on the WYSO airwaves since the 1980's hosting programs such as Bluegrass Countdown and Banks of the Ohio.  Recently he edited Bluegrass Bluesman: A Memoir, which captures the stories and reflections of Josh Graves, an American musician who born in 1927. 

Bartenstein joins Excursions host Niki Dakota in the WYSO studio to talk about Graves' life and music and the process of compiling material for the book.


Dayton-area bluegrass group Sawgrass stops by Excursions for a fun performance and interview in advance of their performance at GearFest 2011.

Sawgrass, which formed in 2005 as an outlet for Springfield singer/songwriter Ryan Judy, is a modern interpretation of the musical stylings of artists such as Hank Williams and Bill Monroe. The group plays high-energy bluegrass music, full of strong harmonies and rich instrumentation.

In this Excursions performance, the group tears through a four-song bluegrass set, which includes the uplifting “Workin’ on a Building.”

Host highlights features conversations between WYSO Music Director, Niki Dakota and WYSO's volunteer hosts about their programs, how they came to WYSO, etc. This week, Niki chats with Doyle Wright of Down Home Bluegrass and Rise When the Rooster Crows.  They talk about Doyle's love for Bluegrass music and how he grew up hearing it on WYSO.

Down Home Bluegrass airs Saturday nights 6-9pm. Rise When the Rooster Crows airs Sunday mornings 6-8am.

Legendary bluegrass banjo player Red Spurlock joins Tom Duffee in the WYSO studios to share songs and stories from his career including first coming to Dayton in the 1950s and meeting fellow musician Red Allen.