McLain Family Band, The


  • From Berea Kentucky.
  • Performed together as a family from 1972 through 1989.
  • Were associated with the armed forces which took them to more than 80 foreign countries as “America’s Ambassadors of Traditional Music.”
  • Often performed with symphony orchestras and were the first bluegrass band to do so.
  • Bought the Big Hill Farm near Berea and for 13 years hosted the first “international” bluegrass festival featuring bands from the U.S. and abroad.
  • Included Raymond K. McLain, father of the McLain Family Band and a professor of musicology at Berea College (he died in 2003); Raymond W. McLain, Michael K. McLain, Ruth McLain Riopel, Michael Riopel, and Nancy Ann McLain.
  • Recorded more than a dozen albums on their own label, Country Life Records.
  • Raymond K. McLain passed away in 2004.
  • Michael K. and his wife Jennifer perform together as a duo.
  • The entire family has been involved in teaching bluegrass music for decades beginning with the elder Raymond K. McLain, who was a professor of musicology at Berea College in Kentucky, and continuing with Raymond W. McLain’s work at East Tennessee State University and Morehead State University in Kentucky, Michael McLain’s work with the bluegrass program at Belmont University in Nashville, Ruth McLain Smith’s teaching at Morehead State University, and Al White’s (husband of Alice McLain and a former band member) teaching at Berea College.
  • 2013, were presented with the IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
  • The McLain Family Band have reunited with Raymond W., Ruth, Nancy Ann and Michael Riopel performing occasional shows.