Joe Val

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Joe Val
Joe val.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJoseph Valiante
Born(1926-06-26)June 26, 1926
Everett, Massachusetts, United States
DiedJune 11, 1985(1985-06-11) (aged 58)
InstrumentsMandolin, guitar, banjo

Joseph 'Val' Valiante (June 26, 1926 - June 11, 1985) was a bluegrass musician and singer from New England, known for his mandolin playing and his high tenor voice.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Joe Val was born Joseph Valiante in Everett, Massachusetts.[1] Val played guitar and banjo, but became well known for his mandolin playing. While he made a living as a typewriter repairman,[1] he played with several bands including the Radio Rangers and the Berkshire Mountain Boys. Joe helped blaze the trail for Boston's folk and bluegrass scene with the Lilly Brothers in the early '60s, and later surrounded himself with that city's top musicians including Joan Baez, The Charles River Valley Boys, banjo legends Don Stover and Bill Keith.[2] Joe Val became "The voice of bluegrass in New England."[3]

It was Bill Monroe's fiddler Tex Logan who coined the name "Joe Val".[4]

Grave of Joe Val, Mount Feake

In 1970, Joe Val formed his own band, the New England Bluegrass Boys, bringing in Herb Applin (guitar/vocals), Bob French (banjo), and Bob Tidwell (bass). The band recorded their first album One Morning In May in 1972, a tied first bluegrass release for Rounder Records.[5] Joe was the first bluegrass artist signed by Rounder Records,[6] and recorded with them exclusively, releasing albums from 1973 to 1984. Among those that played in the band were guitarists/lead vocalists Dave Dillon and Dave Haney, banjo players Paul Silvius, Karl Lauber and Joe Deetz, bass player Eric Levenson, fiddler Sonny Miller and dobro player Roger Williams.[citation needed]

In 1984, Joe was diagnosed with lymphoma, and his last performance was at the 1984 Georgia Bluegrass Festival, although Joe could not finish his first set due to his failing health.[2] The Joe Val Benefit, a fundraising event, was organised on the 9th June 1985 to help cover the cost for treatment, but unfortunately he died 2 days later. Joe was laid to rest in Mount Feake Cemetery.[7] His headstone has an engraving of his 1923 Gibson 'Lloyd Loar' Mandolin, designed by Joe's devoted friend and bass player, Eric Levenson.[citation needed]


The International Bluegrass Music Association posthumously presented Joe Val with an "IBMA Award Of Merit" for his dedication and lifetime contributions to bluegrass music during their 1995 IBMA World of Bluegrass annual bluegrass trade show & convention.[8] That presentation was made by John Rossbach, accompanied by Joe's mandolin. Joe Val received a standing ovation from a knowledgeable IBMA audience, including many of Joe's peers.

The first memorial Joe Val Day was organized in 1986, and the event has since grown into the three-day Joe Val Bluegrass Festival featuring many different musicians entertaining thousands of fans. The festival won the coveted "Event of the Year" award in 2006 from the International Bluegrass Music Association.[9]


Solo albums[edit]

  • Bluegrass and Old Time Music by the Charles River Valley Boys (Prestige Records, 1965)
  • Charles River Valley Boys "Beatle Country" (Elektra Records, 1966)

Joe Val & The New England Bluegrass Boys albums[edit]

  • One Morning in May Rounder Records (1972)
  • Joe Val & the New England Bluegrass Boys Rounder Records (1974)
  • Not a Word from Home Rounder Records (1977)
  • Bound to Ride Rounder Records 1979)
  • Live in Holland Strictly Country Records (Netherlands 1981)
  • Sparkling Brown Eyes Rounder Records (1983)
  • Cold Wind Rounder Records (1983)

Compilation albums[edit]

  • "2nd Pioneer Valley Jamboree" [Various, recorded live at Hangar One in Amherst, MA] (Pioneer #PNR 102, 1981)
  • Prairie Home Companion "Tourists: Music & Laughter From The Road, 1981-82" (High Bridge Audio, 2008)
  • Diamond Joe (Rounder Records 1995)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Who Was Joe Val?". Boston Bluegrass Union.
  2. ^ a b "Joe Val & The New England Bluegrass Boys". AllMusic.
  3. ^ from liner notes: Diamond Joe Rounder Records CD-11537
  4. ^ "Joe Val – The Voice Of New England Bluegrass - GEEZER MUSIC CLUB". GEEZER MUSIC CLUB.
  5. ^ "Way Back Wednesday: Country Cooking, 14 Bluegrass Instrumentals". Rounder Records.
  6. ^ "Way Back Wednesdays – Joe Val (part 2)". Rounder Records.
  7. ^ "Joseph P Valiante (1926 - 1985) - Find A Grave Memorial".
  8. ^ "Distinguished Achievement Award Recipients". International Bluegrass Music Association.
  9. ^ "Bluegrass Event of the Year". International Bluegrass Music Association.