Al, Alice and Ruth
  Music in the Appalachian Mountain traditions

About the Band

Al, Alice & Ruth

Al, Alice and Ruth bring new life to old music, and make new music sound vintage.


This trio has a musical history that is enviable. Alice and Ruth are sisters, growing up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, performing nationally and internationally with their family, The McLain Family Band. The McLain Family band was honored with the Distinguished Achievement Award, presented by the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2014, for years of excellence in performance including hundreds of performances with symphony orchestras, and  representing the United States internationally in 11 international tours including 62 countries, and expanding and enriching the reach of Bluegrass Music, in places such as Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center.  Al grew up in New Mexico, from a long line of family musicians, performing in the west, before heading east to join the Bluegrass Alliance, and then (after marrying Alice) joining the McLain Family Band. Since “retiring” from full-time performance, Al teaches bluegrass and old-time instrument lessons and leads The Berea College Bluegrass Ensemble and the Berea College Country Dancer Band at Berea College in Berea, Ky.; Ruth teaches traditional music history and lessons, as well as leads a Bluegrass Ensemble and a Traditional Music Ensemble at Morehead State University in Morehead, Ky.; and Alice teaches first grade, and utilizes the power of music in working with very young children.


The Music

Al’s musical prowess includes many styles of guitar, banjo, and fiddle playing.  Ruth and Alice share bass and mandolin playing. Ruth’s bass playing includes slap bass, and a fine walking style, and her mandolin playing sparkles and shines in many tunes.  All three sing lead vocals and tight harmonies. (This is a video of “Let the Mountains Roll” from a Woodsongs production.)  (This is a video of “When the Storm is Over” from a Woodsongs production.)


Latest Recordings

In February 2013, Al, Alice, and Ruth released their first CD as a trio. “Let the Mountains Roll”.  An Amazon reviewer said of this CD, “Al, Alice and Ruth express excellent musical craftsmanship, with clean notation, great timing, and just enough to fill the lines without being showy. Good mix of songs with different flavors and textures. Wonderful family harmony.  Like meeting an old friend.”

In December 2014, their second CD, “’Tis a Gift” was released. It contains original seasonal and Christmas songs, as well as favorites “Simple Gifts”, and the “Light of the Stable”. ( Rev) Al DeGiacomo says,  ”’Tis a Gift’ is just that. Musically true to its name, this new Christmas CD by Al, Alice and Ruth is a marvelous gift of melodious, new Bluegrass songs, by turns uplifting, inspiring, heartwarming and altogether engaging. I listened to it once and played it again immediately – and continually after that ! A great Christmas gift, to be sure.”



Richmond Register article about the CD release party for "Let the Mountains Roll" 3/14/13:



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