The New Kentucky Colonels Revival

by Youko Yamamoto

Back in 1973, the New Kentucky Colonels toured throughout Holland and Sweden.The band was a reunion of three veterans of the Kentucky Colonels: brothers Roland, Clarence, and Eric White, along with banjo player Alan Munde, a substite for Herb Pedersen.

The tracks of their live album primarily emphasize the work of Clarence White, featuring his phenomenal guitar playing. Even though he was away from bluegrass for six years while touring and recording with the rock band, The Byrds, Clarence hadn’t lost his touch with the bluegrass music that he grew up playing. Sadly, the album became Clarence White’s last recording prior to his death after he and Roland were hit by a drunk driver.

In 1977, when Roland White toured Japan as a part of The Country Gazette, he discovered Kentaro Hiratsuka. While jamming together, Roland almost convinced himself that Kentaro was the reincarnation of his brother, because Kentaro played guitar and sang the exact way that Clarence did. There was an immediate connection.

During their long friendship they played together at various settings throughout Japan and the US, but never had an official concert together. As a friend of Kentaro and Roland, as a big bluegrass fan, and as the director/​founder of the Bön-​​Odori New Paltz Dance Festival, I have arranged for them to appear together onstage for the very first time.

The “New Kentucky Colonels Revival” will take place on Friday, August 1 at 7:30 pm at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kingston NY. Roland and Kentaro will be joined by local bluegrass musicians, Steve Lutke and Ron Greenstein to benefit the upcoming Bön Odori New Paltz Dance Festival.

new kentucky colonels

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