ISAACS, JOE (1947-)

Born in Jackson County, Kentucky, Joe Isaacs came to the Dayton area in 1964 and was soon playing guitar with Roy Lee Centers and, a little later, banjo with Larry Sparks. In 1967, he joined Frank Wakefield in the Greenbriar Boys in New York City. It was there he met Lily Fishman, who was to become his wife. With Fred Bartenstein and others, he formed the Lonesome Drifters before returning to Ohio to play guitar and sing lead with Ralph Stanley and later banjo with Larry Sparks again. He then formed the Calvary Mountain Boys, who recorded for Old Homestead and Hamilton’s Melody Records. In 1975, he and Lily began performing as Joe Isaacs and Sacred Bluegrass, which eventually became The Isaacs in 1986. After he and Lily divorced in 1998, Joe began performing with the Cumberland Highlanders and also formed his own group, Mountain Bluegrass, with Stacy York singing a haunting tenor to his Stanley-style lead. Joe and Stacy eventually married and were still working with the Cumberland Highlanders in 2015. In 2011, Joe’s son-in-law John Bowman honored Joe with a tribute CD titled Family Chain, The Songs of Joe Isaacs.

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