40 Years of The Reno Family

by | 19 Aug, 2023 | 0 comments

The Reno Family

The Reno Family 40 Years Late …and Right on Time

Man-Do-Lin Productions has released the next two advance tracks from the heritage recordings by The Reno Family and the celebration of these historic recordings 40 years ago.

The third and fourth tracks to be released from the upcoming album 40 Years Late …and Right On Time are Unwanted Love and the instrumental Whispering. More advance tracks will be released over the summer preceding the release of the album in the fall.

Written by Don Reno, Red Smiley and Harry Leftwich Unwanted Love is a bluegrass standard and has been recorded by many artists. The Reno Family share their recording of this song with new life and high energy including Don and Don Wayne’s twin banjo intro and breaks done only as a father and son can do them. This song was released originally in 1961 by legendary Bluegrass group Reno and Smiley.

Unwanted Love tells the story of wanting to know someone who’s known the pain of a failed love affair from the past. Very cleverly written by giving you hope of new true love while still not committing yet. Wanting to but waiting to give it one more chance to love again.

The Reno Family Whispering is a big band era classic song that Don Reno learned while playing with Arthur Guitar Boogie Smith in Charlotte NC in the early 50’s. His laid-back feel while using his double roll on the second verse and single string style is perfect for the banjo. Don was famous for taking very difficult orchestral music and making them fit the roll and style he created. David Shapiro played a very melodic break that also fit the feel and tempo of the song.

Whispering is the last banjo instrumental tune recorded by Don Reno and was never released until now. This recording is historic for our family, bluegrass, and roots music – Ronnie Reno, producer.

Unwanted Love features Don Reno on banjo and vocals; Ronnie Reno on lead vocals and guitar; Dale Reno on mandolin and vocals; Don Wayne Reno on bass and banjo and Byron Berline on fiddle. Whispering festures Don Reno on banjo; Ronnie Reno on guitar, Dale Reno on mandolin, Don Wayne Reno on bass, Byron Berline on fiddle) and special guest, David Shapiro on lead guitar. Both tracks are produced by Ronnie Reno & Tom Stern.

About The Reno Family:

The Reno FamilyThe Reno name has been recognised, respected, and appreciated for all their contributions over many decades in Bluegrass and Country music. Father, Don Reno and sons Ronnie, Dale and Don Wayne have carved out a very special place, especially in the Bluegrass genre, that has garnered multiple hit records, awards, special achievements, and most of all the hearts and admiration of music lovers all over the world.

Over the years the Reno’s have all kept a busy schedule with their individual careers, sometimes crossing paths performing together, but each following their own aspirations and career journeys. In 1983 the perfect storm occurred when The Reno Family, who were touring together in California, booked some time and magically recorded these heritage recordings produced by Ronnie Reno and Tom Stern.

After 40 Years The Reno Family is releasing a collection of these historic recordings on Ronnie Reno’s Man-Do-Lin Productions label titled 40 Years Late and Right on Time.

Whispering and Unwanted Love are available for streaming wherever digital streaming is available. More tracks from these exciting and historic recordings will be released over the summer with the album, 40 Years Late… and Right On Time, scheduled for release in the fall.

Album Co-Producer and Artist, Ronnie Reno describes the background story for these heritage recordings:

I had left Merle Haggard in 1981 and wanted to do some touring with Dad and the brothers. The timing was right for all of us, so Dad and I started to put all parts together to tour as The Reno Family band in 1982. Dale and Don Wayne were playing so great at that time, and we really sounded good as a family band. Dad and I always had a great blend together vocally and it just made sense to pursue this at that time. We were going to do 2 tours a year to the west coast just as the family and that would be early winter and early spring. The weather had turned cold on the east coast and the festivals were over for the year.


The first tour was in early 1983 and while we were doing dates in California, we knew record producer Tom Stern was a big fan of Dads banjo picking. He was recording some cuts for a project he was doing called The Usual Suspects on Kaleidoscope Records. We got in touch with Tom and recorded one song for his project, “Lonesome Hearted Blues”. It went so well that we approached Tom about doing more recordings when we came back in the fall. That started two full projects with us recording for two years. One was Family and Friends released in 1988 and the other was the Reno Family.


What makes this album so special is that Tom Stern and I were going to do a tribute to Dad in 1990 with the recordings we had done in late 1983 and early 1984. The Final Chapter on Step One records had been released earlier as a tribute to him in 1986 after Dad’s untimely death. We talked a lot about the new tribute in 1990 and even discussed all the possibilities with the concept. Sorry to say we both got busy, and it never materialized. Thank goodness I had a copy of the master recordings, and we are so glad to let everyone hear them now.


This recording experience with my Dad and brothers was very historic for our family, bluegrass, and roots music. I had recorded a lot with Dad starting with Don Reno and Red Smiley, then later with Dad and Bill Harrell. We had also recorded a project with Ray Pennington for Step One Records, later to be called The Final Chapter. Dale and Don Wayne were on that project with Dad and me before we recorded The Reno Family.

I remember that Dad was so inspired with recording together as the family that he really showed us why he was known as such a great musician. We all could see the next chapter with our music but I’m sorry to say that “The Reno Family” was the last one he recorded. Dad got sick when we got home in 1984 and never came out of the hospital. Very emotional to talk about it.


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