CMH Records

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CMH Records
Founded 1975
Founder Martin Haerle
Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith
Genre Country, bluegrass
Country of origin United States
Location Los Angeles, CA
Official website

Founded in 1975, CMH Records is a Los Angeles based independent country and bluegrass label with several subsidiary labels, including Vitamin Records, Crosscheck, Dwell, and Rockabye Baby!, which release diverse styles of music including string quartet tributes, punk, metal, and lullabies, respectively.


CMH co-founder Martin Haerle grew up in Stuttgart, Germany during World War II, where he heard American country music on Armed Forced Radio. At the age of 20 he moved to Nashville to work in the mailroom at Starday Records, where he learned the record business from legendary label president and A&R man Don Pierce. Haerle was promoted to vice president by the early 1960s, and later worked in country radio. In 1968, he became general manager of United Artists Records' manufacturing division.

In 1975, Haerle formed CMH in Los Angeles with Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith, the renowned guitarist who wrote both the million-selling “Guitar Boogie” and "Dueling Banjos," the bluegrass standard made famous by the movie Deliverance. By the mid 1970s, major country labels including RCA and MCA had dropped all of their bluegrass acts, with the notable exception of Bill Monroe. CMH was one of a small number of independent labels that cropped up to fill the void.[1]

Haerle and Smith signed many major first-generation bluegrass artists, some contemporary bluegrass groups, and several important country artists. Writes Jonny Whiteside in LA Weekly, "They churned a slow but steady series of albums by out-of-fashion geniuses, like Merle Travis, Joe and Rose Lee Maphis and Grandpa Jones, carving out a corner of the market for marginalized and ignored country stars (much the way his mentor Pierce did at Starday Records in the 1960s)."[2]

Between 1975 and 1988, CMH released albums by Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass,[3] The Osborne Brothers,[4] Jim & Jesse, Mac Wiseman, Carl Story, The Stonemans, Josh Graves, Don Reno, Benny Martin, The Bluegrass Cardinals, IInd Generation featuring Eddie Adcock,[5] Grandpa Jones, Merle Travis, Joe Maphis, Johnny Gimble, Carl & Pearl Butler, and the only studio album by legendary songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant.

When Martin Haerle died in 1990, his son David Haerle stepped in to run the label,[6] and created the “Pickin’ On” series, which consists of bluegrass tributes to rock, pop and country artists including Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Led Zeppelin and The Offspring. The first title in the series was Pickin' On The Beatles (1994),[7] but it wasn't until three years later that the concept took off with the success of Pickin' On The Grateful Dead.[8]

CMH continues to release bluegrass tributes, compilations of traditional bluegrass and country, and studio albums by well-known artists.

Labels under the CMH umbrella include Vitamin Records, Rockabye Baby!, Dwell, Crosscheck, Scufflin', PanAm, Urabon, Rockwell, OCD International, School of Rock, and Open Mike.

Partial discography[edit]

A discography of LPs released between 1973 and 1988 can be found here.

  • Lost Songs: Songs the Beatles Gave Away (2007)

Features songs the Beatles wrote but never recorded. Brian Gari, a musician and Beatles scholar, approached CMH with the concept of recording these songs with vintage instruments, similar to those that the Beatles used. The album was mastered at Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded most all of their albums.

Van Halen tributes performed by renowned bluegrass bands such as Blue Highway, Mountain Heart, The John Cowan Band, Iron Horse (band), and David Grisman and Sons. David Lee Roth sings on two tracks backed by the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band.

  • The Nashville Acoustic Sessions: Raul Malo, Pat Flynn, Rob Ickes & Dave Pomeroy (2004)

Bluegrass-tinged covers from the former lead singer of the Mavericks and several top country and bluegrass instrumentalists.

Studio album from Grammy-nominated rockabilly pioneer with special guests The Cramps, Rosie Flores, Elvis Costello, Lee Rocker, and Dave Alvin.[9]

  • Fade to Bluegrass: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica (2003)

Performed by Iron Horse (band), a bluegrass band from Muscle Shoals Alabama.

  • Corporate Love Breakdown: The Bluegrass Tribute to Radiohead

Performed by Nate Leath (Fiddle, Vocals), Darrell Muller (Bass), Jess Harper (Guitar), Ben Krakauer (Banjo), and Pete Frostic (Mandolin).


This is a list of artists who have recorded with CMH Records and their associated labels.

CMH Records
Wanda Jackson
David Lee Roth
Lester Flatt
Merle Travis
Grandpa Jones
The Osborne Brothers
Mac Wiseman
Jimmy Martin
Jim & Jesse
The Stonemans
Don Reno
Carl Story

OCD International
Kool Keith (Dr. Octagon)

Dwell Records

Crosscheck Records
Street Dogs
U.S. Bombs
Electric Frankenstein
Hammer Bros.

Scufflin' Records
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Reuben Wilson
Bernie Worrell

Reviews & Press[edit]

  • During a videotaped interview (in English) on a Norwegian media site, Metallica guitarist, Kirk Hammett, answered a question about the CMH-release, Fade to Bluegrass: The Bluegrass Tribute to Metallica, performed by Iron Horse (band) and calls it "pretty cool." He also mentioned that they even played a song off the CD during one of their live performances.[10]
  • According to David West (, producer of over fifty albums of the "Pickin 'On" series, the label strives to create the highest quality tributes possible. “The rule laid down for us is no muzak. It’s got to rock. The emphasis is on hot licks," says West. [11]

See also[edit]

Rockabye Baby!
Vitamin Records
The String Quartet Tribute

External links[edit]