THE ORIGINAL OLD TIME BLUEGRASS SINGERS The Old Time Bluegrass Singers was the original name of the late 1960’s, early 1970’s Boston band comprising Joe Val, Herb Applin, Bob French and Bob Tidwell. Joe and Herb had been singing “brother duets” since the mid-60’s, including several numbers on the Jim Rooney/Bill Keith LP. They went by the name “Val and Applin”. When they formed a four-piece band of their own with banjoist Bob French and bass fiddle man Bob Tidwell, they called themselves “The Old Time Bluegrass Singers”. When making Rounder’s first bluegrass LP in the early 1970’s (Rounder 003) they were told that the name was too limiting, and they should rename the group Joe Val & The New England Bluegrass Boys, which they did. However, they also continued to use “The Old Time Bluegrass Singers” band name as late as 1972. The “spirit” of the original OTBG Singers was a fine mix of little-known classic country and bluegrass music, mixed with “new tunes” from all sorts of sources, performed in a solidly traditional bluegrass style. The original OTBGSingers were the first to adopt John Denver’s big hit “Country Roads” into the bluegrass world. Yet on the same shows, they would sing gut-busting high lonesome duets like Bill Monroe’s “This Morning Along About Daybreak”! Although Joe Val become known as the ultimate tenor singer, on “brother duets” he usually preferred to sing the lower, lead part, and have Herb Applin sang the higher tenor harmony. Herb left the group in the mid-1970’s to play guitar with Don Stover’s new band. Bob French left about the same time and moved to Maine, re-forming his own band the Rainbow Valley Folks. Sadly, Bobby Tidwell passed away much too young. Joe, of course, carried on brilliantly with a succession of musicians making several excellent albums for Rounder until his own untimely death in the mid-1980’s. During the 1980’s, Joe Deetz was one of a series of full-time banjoists with the New England Bluegrass Boys. Herb Applin started out with violin lessons as a school kid in the early 1950’s, but was “ruined” for classical music the first time he heard a Benny Martin fiddle break on a Flatt & Scruggs record. Herb soon took up the mandolin too, and in fact was a very accomplished mandolinist long before Joe Val (originally a guitar man and 5 string banjo picker) switched to mandolin in the early 1960’s.