Maryland Traditions Folklife Area
Hugh Campbell & Dave Reed
old-time and bluegrass
Elkton and Rising Sun, Maryland
photo credit: Edwin Remsberg
Hugh Campbell and Dave Reed are first cousins and Cecil County natives. They sing mountain harmonies and play music that draws on old-time, bluegrass, and gospel. These traditions were passed onto them by their parents and extended family members, who were part of a large wave of Appalachian migrants to settle in the region in search of work in cities and industrial centers.
Hugh and Dave descend from musicians who contributed significantly to popularizing traditional Appalachian music. Dave’s mother—and Hugh’s aunt—was Ola Belle Campbell Reed, a trailblazing figure in old-time and bluegrass music. Their uncle, Alex Campbell, was Ola Belle’s musical partner, and a major promoter of bluegrass music.
Rooted in the colorful mountain tradition of their ancestors, Hugh and Dave’s performances weave together many threads of this rich history that stretches from Appalachia to Maryland, blending family songs with stories and their own original compositions. They carry forward their family legacy admirably. An accomplished songwriter, Hugh was nominated in 2003 for International Bluegrass Music Association Song of the Year for “Shape of a Tear.” For years, Dave played in his mother’s family band at her New River Ranch country music park, named for the river that flowed near her birthplace in Ashe County, North Carolina. In addition to guitar and mandolin, he plays banjo in the clawhammer style he learned while watching her play.
Hugh and Dave are both prominently featured in the Dust-to-Digital release Ola Belle Reed and Southern Mountain Music on the Mason-Dixon Line.