The New Harvest Brothers is led by Jim Scott Mullins and it is safe to say that gospel music is in the blood of the Mullins family.
Around 1946, The Mullins Trio was formed by the Mullins’ grandfather Hie, his wife Frances along with their son Billy Gene Mullins though it seems that Hie’s father, Dock Patton Mullin, was also a renowned singer of mountain ballads so the New Harvest Brothers could be the fourth generation of music-making in the family except, with Jonathon (Jim Scott Mullins’ son) joining the band, this make five generations!
In 2007 Jim Scott Mullins and Mike formed a duo which, by 2010 had followed the Mullins tradition and formed the New Harvest Brothers including Tim Powers (mandolin), Jonathon Mullins (bass), Buddy Carico (guitar), Daniel Carico (guitar) and Chris Jackson (Dobro)
In 2015, I had the pleasure of introducing the New Harvest Brothers on-stage at HoustonFest in Galax, Va. and we have kept in touch ever since. When I returned to the UK, I brought two of their CDs home with me. The first was Laboring Soldier: A Tribute to Billy Gene Mullins (2007) which is a wonderful tribute to their father; in the liner notes of this CD, Jim describes his father as ‘an individual who left behind a testimony of music, a life of sincerity, and an indelible mark upon the place where he lived’. From my experience of meeting the New Harvest Brothers, their father’s legacy lives on within this group of gentlemen. The other CD that I brought home was Pressing On (2013) both of which are on Mountain Tone Music Workshop.
As 2017 draws to a close, a new Gospel recording from the New Harvest Brothers is being released – Bound & Determined. Eight of the tracks on this release are written by members of the band – Mike Mullins, Buddy Carico, Chris Jackson and Scott Mullins with the final track being Oh What A Blessing by Billy Gene Mullins.
As I have said elsewhere, before I pressed play, I knew that I would enjoy the music from the New Harvest Brothers but was delighted when Bound & Determined exceeded those expectations.
Step Right Up is the perfect opening track displaying the fine playing and harmony singing that is the trademark of the New Harvest Brothers; the style is accomplished but with an easy warmth that many can only strive for and that harmony singing continues on in Oh What A Saviour and throughout the tracks on Bound & Determined. I was struck by how familiar the songs sounded even though, as I said before, most are original songs. Listening to the CD several times, I came to the conclusion that it was not familiarity with the songs that I was feeling, rather that I was drawn into the songs, the singing and playing. When I met the New Harvest Brothers in 2015, it was though I had known them for a long while, such was their easy and genuine manner and this impression comes through in the songs in this collection.
Earthly Poor But Heavenly Rich, written by Chris Jackson, is another of the songs which grabs the attention; this song has perfectly-balanced, but light, instrumentation allowing attention to be paid to the lyrics. This is followed by the acapella I Owe It All To You Lord which gives the listener an opportunity to the group’s undeniable vocal abilities. I am sure that the up-beat Six Feet From The Ground will become a favourite on Bluegrass and Gospel radio and I am certainly going to be encouraging my fellow Bluegrass show hosts to listen and play music from Bound & Determined.
For bookings or CDs, contact: Jim Scott Mullins 263 Hawkins Farm Road Clintwood, Virginia 24228
Please visit the Virginia Folklife Program website where tracks from The Mullins Family Let Your Light Shine Out can be previewed and the CD can be purchased.