I must admit that a favorite album which I regularly put back into rotation is “A Tribute to Brother Duets” from Jesse McReynolds and Charles Whitstein.What’s interesting is that this entire 37-minute collection draws from repertoire of many famous traditional country brother duets from yesteryear. Classic songs come from such brother acts as The Delmores, Wilburns, Morrises, Louvins, Monroes, Stanleys, Yorks, Bailes, and Bollicks (Blue Sky Boys). These are the brother acts which influenced McReynolds and Whitstein and continue to inspire other artists today.
The album has many old favorites like "When I Stop Dreaming," "What Would You Give (in Exchange For Your Soul)?," "Rose of my Heart," "The White Dove," "Blues Stay Away From Me," "Kentucky," "Remember Me (When the Candlelights are Gleaming) and "Are You Missing Me?" The two also cover a few less commonly heard duets such as "Somebody Loves You Darling," "That's All I Want From You," and "Which One Is To Blame?"Jesse McReynolds (born in 1929) recently turned 84. Charles Whitstein is a little younger, born in 1945. Both of them spent many years performing with their own brothers. From Virginia, Jim & Jesse have released over fifty albums and joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1964. From Louisiana, The Whitstein Brothers (Bob & Charles) were once called “the second-coming of the Louvin Brothers” by Charlie Louvin.
Sadly, Robert Whitstein passed away on November 14, 2001, and Jim McReynolds passed on in December 31, 2002 (only two weeks after his wife had died).While both surviving brothers were greatly saddened by their losses, they endured and bounced back by forming their own duo. The only new song on their album, "Gone But Not Forgotten," written by Jesse, opened with a touching tribute to their deceased brothers.
Besides Jesse (mandolin, mandolobro) and Charles (guitar), the rest of the musicians are Dave Salyers (lead guitar), Charlie Cushman (guitar), Glen Duncan (fiddle), and Kent Blanton (bass). As they sing in "Gone but Not Forgotten," Jesse and Charles vow to "do their best," and they've proven that they can create strong and close harmony together that pays homage to their departed brothers.