Shenandoah Cut-Ups

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This popular US bluegrass band was initially the Blue Grass Cut-Ups of Reno And Smiley.
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This popular bluegrass band were initially the Blue Grass Cut-Ups of Reno And Smiley. They underwent the name change early in 1969, when a change in management, at WDBJ-TV Roanoke, ended the station’sTop Of The Morning Show, on which the band had appeared for a considerable time. Smiley’s ill health saw him withdraw and three of the band members re-formed under their new name. The three were fiddler Tater Tate (b. 4 February 1931, Gate City, Virginia, USA), Billy Edwards (b. William Gene Edwards, 26 September 1936, Tazewell County, Virginia, USA; banjo, bass, vocals) and John Palmer (b. 28 May 1927, Union, South Carolina, USA, d. 26 December 1993; bass, guitar). They were joined by Herschel Sizemore (b. 6 August 1935, Sheffield, Alabama, USA; mandolin). Initially, they worked with vocalist Jim Eanes, with whom they made their first recordings as the Shenandoah Valley Quartet, but Edwards, who sang lead on most of the numbers, became the band’s accepted vocalist when Eanes resumed his solo career. In the early 70s, sometimes reinforced by guitarist Wesley Golding, they worked numerous venues and recorded for Revonah.

Around 1973, Edwards retired, being replaced by Tom McKinney, and with a more modernized sound, the new line-up recorded for Rebel. Soon afterwards, Tate and Palmer’s unhappiness with the new sound saw Golding, McKinney and Sizemore leave to form their own band, County Grass. Edwards rejoined Tate and Palmer and with new members Gene Burrows (b. 12 September 1928, Bedford County, Virginia, USA, d. 14 September 1992; mandolin, guitar, vocals) and Udell McPeak (b. 12 June 1935, Wytheville, Virginia, USA; guitar), the Cut-Ups continued until 1977 without further changes (Burrows and McPeak had previously both played with Red Smiley). They recorded for Revonah, played numerous festivals and worked with Mac Wiseman. In 1977, Edwards retired (Larry Hall replaced him), while Tate, who had always acted as the band’s leader, joined Lester Flatt. Bobby Hicks played fiddle in his place and Palmer became band leader. Sizemore also returned to play on occasions. By 1980, the Cut-Ups mainly played local venues but made further recordings on Grassound, Palmer’s own label. They finally disappeared around 1988, as members retired or moved on to other careers. Burrows died in Roanoke in 1992 and Palmer the following year from cancer.