Ralph Stanley and Ralph Stanley II (from the album Side By Side) - Two (Ralph Stanley II) began stage work in dad Ralph Stanley’s band when he was three, playing a miniature plastic guitar. He continued to make contributions with lead vocals and rhythm guitar in the 1990’s. Father and son had played and toured together with The Clinch Mountain Boys and with the recent release, Side By Side, the pair expand on a family tradition that dates back to Ralph and his brother Carter recording old-time mountain music beginning in 1946. Dr. Ralph Stanley now enjoys a career that spreads over seventy years. While a blood –based album might seem an easy fit on paper, for Two he was still looking up from way down the bluegrass ladder, “I’d just been in the Clinch Mountain Boys, a band member with him, and I was very proud to be that but we’d never actually done a duet album like this. Playing with Dad, who’s so much of a legend could be intimidating – and he’s had such a great long line of lead singers to live up to ---Carter Stanley, then Larry Sparks, Roy Lee Centers and Keith Whitley. But I’ve been on my own as a solo artist for about five years; I’m more experienced and more relaxed and ready to show people what I can do with the master himself. I asked Dad if he’d be interested in doing something like this and he said yes, he’d love to.”
Side By Side stays the course of tradition as much as the father and son pairing stretches out the branches of the Stanley family tree. The music is old-time mountain music. Bluegrass alive with outstanding players and interactive playing that matches sound like a patch work quilt. The songs are a snapshot of the mountains where they were born (“Carolina Mountain Home”, “White and Pink Flowers”, “Dirty Black Coal”) and glimpses in the lives of its inhabitants (“Darling Little Joe”, “Wild Bill Jones”. The story themes are love derailed (“I’ve Still Got 99”) and love out of reach (“Little at a Time”). Ralph Stanley and Ralph Stanley II visit music from other first generation bluegrass founders such as Dr. Stanley with tracks from Bill Monroe’s older brother, mandolinist Charlie Monroe (“Walking With You in My Dreams”) and Ernest Tubb (“Are You Waiting Just for Me”). Side By Side is a debut for Ralph and Ralph II yet the confidence and distinction the men bring to the songs stands the album with a double shot of master musicians.