This page contains videos and MP3s of Joe Val concerts between 1981 and 1984. The videos come from around YouTube. With one exception, the audio files are unedited transcriptions from cassette tapes that have been carted around the country for over thirty years, so the audio quality is not always consistent. They are in more or less (as near as I can tell) chronological order. The standard lineup for most of these is: Joe Val on mandolin, singing lead, tenor, high lead and high baritone; Dave Haney on guitar and singing lead and tenor; Karl Lauber on banjo and singing lead or baritone; and Eric Levenson on bass. Some interesting highlights: “When I Stop Dreaming,” from the long-out of print Prairie Home Companion Tourists LP, was recorded at the PHC show in October 1981 at Jordan Hall in Boston. It’s the only cut here that has Paul Silvius on the banjo. The next PHC show that featured Joe was in April, 1982, and by then Karl Lauber had joined the band. The Brockton concert features Herb Applin (the original guitar player with the NEBBs in the early 1970s) on fiddle and vocals. The Boston Bluegrass Union concert features some guests, including former NEBBs Herb Applin and Dave Dillon, as well as some rare duets between Joe and Dudley Connell, who was then a member of the Johnson Mountain Boys. The shows in Emmen and on Dick Pleasants’ show on WGBH feature Joe Deetz on banjo, who was the last banjo player with the band; unfortunately Joe Val passed away before Joe Deetz had an opportunity to record with the band. The interview that I did with Dick Pleasants in the summer of 1984 is optimistic about the band’s future; little did we know that Joe would be gone less than a year later, in the summer of 1985.
The idea for putting this material out there came out of a conversation in June, 2015 with Jackson Cunningham, who plays and sings with Martha Spencer in the Whitetop Mountaineers, and who, deep in the mountains of Southwest Virginia, is a major Joe Val fan. All of the serious bluegrass and old-time musicians I have met in Western North Carolina and Southwest Virginia speak of Joe’s music with the utmost respect–his influence continues even in the heart of bluegrass and old-time music country thirty years after his death.
I transcribed the cassettes to WAV files and then converted those for more web-friendly MP3s. If you would like a WAV file of any of these, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll add more shows as I continue to transcribe tapes. If anyone else has Joe Val music to add to this site, let me know!
Joe Val and the New England Bluegrass Boys in 1983 on the Nashville Network’s “Fire on the Mountain” TV show (Karl Lauber-banjo, Joe Val-mandolin, Eric Levenson-bass, Dave Haney-guitar)
“The Fields Have Turned Brown” and “Sunny Side of the Mountain” from about 1984.
Joe’s one vocal composition, “Meet Me By My Old Kentucky Home,” live from a festival in 1983
Videos from Bill Knowlton’s “Bluegrass Ramble” TV show in upstate New York, in 1984, with Joe Deetz on the banjo. This playlist also contains a cut from Joe’s 1982 Sparkling Brown Eyes LP, the double-time “Fair and Tender Ladies,” with Paul Silvius on banjo and Sonny Miller on fiddle. This playlist is from the Music Museum of New England. Click on “playlist” at the upper left to see the list of videos.
A duet with Bill Monroe on “Mother’s Prayer” (audio only)