About The Artist
Paul "Moon" Mullins was a bluegrass fiddler who also became a celebrated disc jockey. He recorded with the Stanley Brothers, was part of the Bluegrass Playboys, Boys from Indiana, Nu Grass Pickers, and especially his own Traditional Grass.
His most noted work as a record spinner came at WPFB ("We Play for Briars") in Middletown, Ohio where he became the voice for Appalachian migrants. Later, he and son Joe became the owners of WBZI in Xenia, Ohio. Banjo picker, Joe went on to also become leader of the band Radio Ramblers.
Mullins came from Frenchburg, Kentucky in lightly populated Menifee County. Fellow Kentucky native and musician Jimmie Skinner described his cultural background thusly, "He knows about a dusty road, raindrops on a tin roof, pie suppers and square dances. He heard bluegrass and country music from the time he could tell the difference between the call of a whippoorwill and the angry cry of a blue jay." As a fiddler, Mullins worked three brief stints with the Stanley Brothers beginning in November 1958 and recorded at least one number with them Later he worked with a band called the Bluegrass Playboys, introducing the song "Katy Dailey" which later became a bluegrass standard via a recording by Ralph Stanley.
He first did deejay work at WGOH in Grayson, WTCR Ashland, and other small stations in eastern Kentucky.
As a deejay at WPFB from 1964, Moon played a great deal of bluegrass and hard country music. This struck a positive chord with the large community of mountain folks who worked in the mills and factories in southwest Ohio cities such as Cincinnati, Dayton, Hamilton, Middletown, and smaller towns. His country dialect was full of metaphors such as describing a dry spell with the comment, "have y'all noticed that the trees have been followin' the dogs around?" His relation with WPFB management was sometimes stormy, but they also knew he was good for business. To again quote Skinner, "his commercials are as entertaining as his music."
Mullins often played with bands in the area clubs, but was also part of several organized quality bands as well as participating in recording sessions for King and smaller labels. Perhaps the best groups with which he worked were the Nu-Grass Pickers that included Sid Campbell and Noah Crase. In 1978, he became a founding member of the Boys from Indiana with Aubrey and Jerry Holt, Harley Gabbard, and the aforementioned Noah Crase working with them through the early eighties. They made six long play albums, most notably Atlanta Is Burning, told from the viewpoint of a mortally wounded Confederate soldier. He also did an album on his own "Moon Mullins" (Vetco LP 3004) with support from later Blue Grass Boy Wayne Lewis on guitar, R. C. Meade on banjo, Paul Morris on mandolin, and Dave Powell on bass.
Paul Mullins' major accomplishment in music was with his band the Traditional Grass which he founded in 1983. In their dozen years as a quite successful band, they recorded four quality compact discs for Rebel: Howdy Neighbor Howdy (Rebel 1698), I Believe in the Old-Time Way (Rebel 1708), Songs of Love and Life (Rebel 1721), and 10th Anniversary Celebration (Rebel 1728). Personnel remained fairly stable with Moon on fiddle, his son Joe on banjo, Mark Rader on guitar, Gerald Evans on mandolin, and Glen Inman on bass, soon replaced by Mike Clevenger who played on three and one half of the discs.
The band broke up in 1995 because Moon and Joe became involved in radio management at WBZI in Xenia which eventually added stations in Wilmington and Eaton to their Real Roots Radio firm. About this time, son Joe released a CD anthology title Moon Mullins: A Collection, containing some of his dad's most memorable recordings.
Moon retired in 2005, but Joe continues on and also leads a quality band known as Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. After retirement, Paul Mullins increasingly experienced health problems and died slightly more than six weeks before his 72nd birthday.
Credits & Sources
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