In October 1969, when the RFD Boys played their first concert together, they were still U-M students, and bluegrass was as unknown here as cable TV in the Ozarks. Today it's as common as e-mail in Appalachia, and the RFD Boys are still going strong. Though they've turned their degrees into full-time, offstage careers, their music has taken them all over Michigan and the Midwest, and as far away as Germany, France, Australia and Malta. In the last three decades they've shared stages with a who's who of bluegrass and country musicians, from Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley to Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis.
At a recent concert at the Ark
, where they've been the house bluegrass band for the last thirty years, the audience ranged from three-year-olds to grandparents who might have gone to college with the "Boys." The atmosphere is festive, the crowd clapping and stomping from the first tune and hollering out requests between songs. The more reticent write their favorites on napkins and stuff them in the red mailbox standing beside the stage. The Boys check their "mail" regularly, and with a repertoire of nearly 750 pieces, they're tough to stump.
They have originals, like guitarist and lead singer Charlie Roehrig's "Sit by the River," a lovely ode to the Charles River, and to his grandfather, who had Charlie convinced it was named after him. It's been recorded by the Country Gentlemen and even wound up on their "best of" album. Charlie's heartfelt tenor is perfectly suited to bluegrass, and decades of singing together have blended the Boys' three-part and four-part harmonies to the smoothness of Kentucky bourbon.
What can we say about our great friend and new fiddle player David Mosher
. For over 20 years, David Mosher has had the good fortune to perform, write, produce, record and teach music full time. Based in Southeast Michigan, he's stitched himself throughout the fabric of the state's musical community as a sideman for some of the states best known performers, including Kitty Donohoe, Matt Watroba and many others, as well as a band member of the Black Thorn, The Raisin’ Pickers, and the go-to multi-instrumentalist for countless regional acts. He has toured internationally with Kate Mackenzie, John Rieschman, and Tammy Fassaert as well as recently accompanying folk icon Tom Paxton. He performs with Ann Arbor's Wild Swan Theater as their main musician and is also involved as music director of the newly formed Ramblin' River Road Show and part of the music team for the new musical "Swamp Opera".
Our lives are sadder now but on we go with his blessing. We miss our founder and best friend. On February 28, 2012, Richard passed away after a difficult battle with cancer at his beloved Ann Arbor Township farm. Read his obituary here