One of a handful of Alabama banjo players that could rightly claim that the song "Oh Susanna" is about them, Rual Yarbrough is most well-known as a member of the fine bluegrass combo the Dixie Gentlemen, one of the best and busiest bluegrass outfits during the folk revival of the early '60s. The group was formed co-operatively in the mid-'50s by Yarbrough with mandolinist and vocalist Herschel Sizemore, both natives of Alabama. The two completed the group with the addition of guitar-picking friend Jake Landers, just out of the army, who wound up writing a great deal of original material for the group. A variety of fiddlers and bassists worked with the Dixie Gentlemen, including Vassar Clements. The group recorded for several labels including the independent bluegrass and country imprint Old Homestead, for whom Yarbrough also cut several solo albums. Fans of banjo playing can only hope that much of this material is eventually reissued; meanwhile, copies of these albums fetch 50 dollars apiece and up. Even rarer are several albums the Dixie Gentlemen cut under the alternative name of the Blue Ridge Mountain Boys, most likely a bid to cash in on the name recognition of that area of the country with bluegrass, as if such a thing was necessary. Dobro player Tut Taylor reissued the results of a mid-'60s session with the band on his solo project, entitled Flash Flood, one of the best examples of the group's work on record.
Sometimes credited under the full name Rual Holt Yarbrough, the banjoist worked with bluegrass giant Bill Monroe in 1969 and 1970 after leaving the Dixie Gentlemen, which later re-formed under the direction of Landers, minus Yarbrough. There are several Monroe box sets that include Yarbrough, one of them consisting of live performances. Yarbrough also led his own group, the Dixiemen. His work on Nashville recording sessions, often uncredited, includes cuts by country artists such as Hank Williams Jr. and the pop-leaning Mac Davis. ~ Eugene Chadbourne, Rovi