Southern style: Reno’s old time music

tsj column writers - southern styleBy Randall Franks


I have had the honor of knowing and admiring the work of Bluegrass personality Ronnie Reno for much of my own career.

I was honored to appear on his popular TV Show “Reno’s Old Time Music Festival” many years ago. As an award-winning television producer, his show was the first nationally broadcast show featuring Bluegrass music, earning him a prestigious Cable Ace nomination and the nickname the Dick Clark of bluegrass.

His new show, “Reno’s Old Time Music,” airs in prime time on Saturday nights on RFD-TV with 1.2 million monthly viewers.

ZZ Ronnie Reno

Ronnie Reno / photo submitted

Ronnie is celebrating 60 years in entertainment with the release of his new album, “Lessons Learned.” It is Reno’s first album in nearly a decade and his debut album on Rural Rhythm Records. Reno’s singer/songwriting talents really shine on this 11-song album containing nine songs penned by Reno. Among the titles are Lower Than Lonesome, Lessons Learned, I Think Of You, Sweet Rosa Lee, Deep Part Of Your Heart, Reno’s Mando Magic, Reno & Smiley classic Trail Of Sorrow, All That’s Worth Remembering, Our Last Goodbye, Bad News At Home, and the Lefty Frizzell classic Always Late with David Frizzell. Each song tells a story about life, love and relationships that pull from his rich experiences as an artist, songwriter and TV host. The CD features the Reno Tradition, including Mike Scott, banjo; Heath Van Winkle, bass; John Maberry, mandolin; and Steve Day, fiddle. Ronnie’s current band and the house band on his TV show. Reno’s warm passionate vocals are combined with harmony vocals by Heath Van Winkle and award-winning vocalist Sonya Isaacs.

Over the past 60 years, Reno has had one of the most colorful, diverse and distinguished careers in the music industry—the lineage of which is a study of both traditional country and bluegrass music history. His musical talents have provided the foundation for a long list of seminal performers in both genres, including Reno & Smiley, the Osborne Brothers, Merle Haggard, the Reno Brothers, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and many others. As a songwriter, his music was cut by artists such as Vassar Clements, Sammi Smith and Merle Haggard, and his song “Boogie Grass Band” was a pivotal #1 smash hit for Conway Twitty.

I encourage you to learn more about Ronnie by ordering some of his music or watching his television show. Visit to learn more.

(Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers I : Finding the Light.” He is a syndicated columnist for and can be reached at

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