Joe Mullins & Radio Ramblers, (left to right) Mike Terry, Duane Sparks, Jason Barie, Joe Mullins and Randy Barnes, host the twice yearly Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival at Roberts Convention Centre in Wilmington on Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24. CONTRIBUTED

Spring concert season begins with Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival

Joe Mullins has a heavy workload, but he’s not complaining.

“Things are busy but good,” he said. “I’m thankful I’ve got great people surrounding me that can take care of it all. I’m saying no to a lot of stuff these days so I can take care of what I’ve got.”

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What Mullins has on his plate is substantial. In addition to leading his award-winning bluegrass-gospel group the Radio Ramblers, he’s is in the process of rebranding his radio network while simultaneously presenting the spring installment of his twice yearly Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival at the Roberts Convention Centre in Wilmington on Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24.

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Headliners Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and Rhonda Vincent & the Rage (pictured) are among the performers at the Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival at the Roberts Convention Centre in Wilmington on Friday and Saturday, March 23 and 24. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

THE FESTIVAL

This year’s lineup features headliners Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder and Rhonda Vincent & the Rage with Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, Nothin’ Fancy, Primitive Quartet and others.

“We’ve got a core of hundreds of regional bluegrass fans that hear what we do on the radio and they come out and support the festival,” Mullins said. “Now that the Radio Ramblers are touring so extensively, we’re also bringing in hundreds of people from outside Ohio to fill the Roberts Centre. It’s a big family reunion every spring and fall.”

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THE BAND

“The Story We Tell,” the latest album from Mullins’ award-winning outfit, was released in August by Rebel Records. It is the band’s sixth album for the revered label and the follow-up to “Sacred Memories” (2016).

“The album was released in August and it’s done great,” Mullins said. “We’ve had a few number one songs on the radio charts at BluegrassToday.com, which is the weekly online chart. Right now we have three songs in the Top 30 in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, which is still the most extensive monthly publication in our world, and the album is number three nationwide. It really has a lot of momentum.”

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THE STATIONS

Mullins owns Classic Country Radio, a network of five stations including WBZI-AM (1500) and WKFI-AM (1090). On Tuesday, March 20, the entire business was rebranded as Real Roots Radio. The change reflects the on-air mix of traditional country, bluegrass, gospel, Americana and other forms of roots music.

“We went 20 years with zero competition,” Mullins said. “Nobody else in southern Ohio played classic country but that’s not the case anymore. A couple of other stations are doing that but we dig deeper, whether it’s old or new, and we play a bigger variety than anybody. Nobody includes honky-tonk and western swing, but we cover it all and that’s why we’re becoming Real Roots Radio.”

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