and Salli met in 1980. They shared a common love for music and some other
Over the next few years
a band slowly enveloped their music as like-minded madmen and geniuses climbed
aboard the Express. There was Fussell and Ted Cole in the early days. They were unstoppable. Harry Bruckner on the bass - enough said! Once the Express got up to speed, brakes became disfunctional. Too many songs!
Two hour sets were the norm, there was almost never a set list, and the
request line was always open. The repertoire got massive.
A fearless band ready to shoot from the hip with relatively good accuracy.
Song junkies. 2,500 tunes with undiscovered selections always waiting
in the wings.
In 1984 the band was invited to play the Saturday morning opening set at the legendary Telluride Bluegrass Festival, a spot they held for 6 years.
Then Jim and Salli and Harry and Scott and Ted and Mike Mixter worked closely in the late '80s with
John McEuen, who was taking a break from the Dirt Band, and they enjoyed taking advantage of upper echelon gigs, more money than they knew what to do with, of course, national
TV and radio appearances, and they got to play Red Rocks for the first time. (They've performed there twice.)
All the while making records, but that's another story.
Runaway had some amazing guests performing with them at different times. John
Prine. David Bromberg. Chuck Berry. Michael Martin Murphey. The Ragin' Cajun
Doug Kershaw. The Kingston Trio. And there was the night that Bono and Adam Clayton of U2 sat and drank in a little
Nashville club watching two full Runaway sets!
Runaway original songs have enjoyed a modicum of success. The Dillards, The Kingston Trio, The Limeliters, and Sam Bush have recorded Jim's tunes. Sam took "Howlin' At The Moon" to #3 on the National Bluegrass Chart and held it there for 3 months. Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine ranked "Howlin'" as #79 on their list of The Top 200 Songs of the Decade. (Sam learned "Howlin' At The Moon" during the time he played with Wild Jimbos. Comprised of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Jimmy Ibbotson, Jim Ratts, and Jim Salestron from Dolly Parton's band, Wild Jimbos had a MCA record, industry muscle, and a summertime video in heavy rotation on country music teevee. Ah, just like the big time, only a bit smaller.) Jim's song "Every Inch of the Way", written for and with Bob Shane, the only living member of the Kingston Trio, has provided Salli and him with a luxurious trip to Phoenix in the dead of summer to be performers and celebraty guests of the Trio at the Kingston Trio Fantasy Camp. They've been invited back again this year.
They've played national tv and radio. Community
concerts and fairs. Dances. Weddings. Campfires. Birthday parties and rodeos! Theme shows including '50s Rock and Roll, Woodstock concerts (8 hour shows at the Little Bear) including Red Rocks Ampitheater where Runaway played Woodstock songs for the Film on the Rocks Series, Island and Surf motif shows, the All Bob Dylan Revue, and Nature and Cowboy concept shows, but generally these days they just get together to celebrate songs and the joy of playing. It's a Family Thing, you know.
The current line-up includes mom and pop Salli and Jim, Butch Hause (two
time Grammy loser) on bass, Ernie
Martinez on all nature of instruments, stringed or otherwise, Chris Stongle (from powerhouse to perfect folk percussionist) on drums, Daniel
(the Doctor is in!) Jones on pedal steel, and Scott Bennett (r.i.p.) on spirited musical encouragement (we miss you).
And the recordings... Don't get me started! Just check out the discs page.
-Jim (writing in the 3rd person)