From their inception in 1973, the Boys from Indiana remained one of the most original bluegrass bands on the festival circuit. The core of the band was comprised of the three Holt brothers: guitarist/bassist/vocalist Aubrey, bassist/vocalist Jerry, and bassist/guitarist/vocalist/mandolin player Tommy. Born and raised in rural Indiana, the brothers were surrounded by traditional music for most of their lives, and were influenced by Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and Hank Williams. Aubrey formed his first bluegrass band with banjo-picking uncle Harley Gabbard when he was just in his teens. "Family Reunion," one of the singles they recorded for Starday, was later covered by Carl Story & the Rambling Mountaineers and went on to become a minor bluegrass standard. The band eventually dissolved, and Gabbard began playing Dobro and worked as a session musician and sideman for groups like the Osborne Brothers and the Goins Brothers. Meanwhile, Aubrey tried to sell songs in Nashville, but publishers felt that his compositions were too old-fashioned.
Holt and Gabbard reunited in 1973 to form the Boys from Indiana. The original lineup also included bassist Jerry Holt, fiddler Paul "Moon" Mullins, and Noah Crase on banjo. Their first album consisted of gospel songs, many written by Aubrey. They recorded their next album for King Bluegrass and began touring the bluegrass circuit, where Aubrey's songs and the band's tight vocal harmonies made the Boys from Indiana a hit with audiences. Through the late '70s, the band recorded three more albums featuring Holt's songs, and occasionally tunes from Crase and Mullins. In 1979, Crase and Mullins were replaced by Rod Case and Billy Thomas. Tommy Holt, having just finished a military stint, also joined. During the '80s, the Boys began organizing their shows around thematic concepts; two of their most popular segments paid tribute to pioneers of bluegrass and to American soldiers. The band recorded six albums during the '80s on their Old Heritage label. In 1992, they recorded Touchin' Home. ~ Sandra Brennan
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