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Bon Whitstein is a timber contractor who is making it big on the Nashville music scene-for the second time! Modest about his success and the international recognition in the United States, Europe, and Japan as part of the Whitstein Brothers duo, Bob Whitstein notes that, "Regardless of what song it is, we still have our own sound we go by. It's unique today, we think; we haven't heard anyone else doing it."
When Bob mentions the uniqueness of their duet singing, it should be noted that he is referring to that close-harmony singing which was once considered the very soul of country music.
It all started in the country around Colfax, Louisiana. Here the brothers, who were just a year apart, grew up with the music their father "fed" them. Roy C. Whitstein, a skilled guitarist, singer, and fiddler, performed a Saturday show in Alexandria. Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, the Louvin Brothers, and the Blue Sky Boys were the fare of the day. On Sundays, Roy and his wife sang gospel music in various churches. Charles and Bob, the oldest of nine children, were hooked by the sound. By age 11, Robert and Charles were playing mandolin and guitar and singing on local T.V. shows like Search for Talent and Country Time. From these T.V. appearances, the young boys gained recognition and were able to make their first record, "Louisiana Woman" and "You Told Him," which was a regional hit.
Eventually, Nashville beckoned. Bob and Charles appeared three times on Grand Ole Opry, toured with Faron Young, and worked with Porter Wagoner and with the Kitty Wells-Johnny Wright Show. The Vietnam War put their careers on hold for ten years or more. Finally returning to Nashville in 1984, the brothers put together a successful album which paid tribute to some of those brother duos of the past-the Louvins, Blue Sky Boys, the Callahan Brothers, and The Del Brothers-while adapting their duet style to more modern country songs.
Whatever the labels put on Charles and Bob Whitstein's music, their five LPs for Rounder records, repeat appearances at the Grand Ole Opry, participation at various festivals, and successful tours of the United States, Europe, Japan, and Canada, prove that their sound is unique and "harmoniously pleasing" to thousands of fans.
The photograph appears courtesy of Rounder Records Corp. It is taken from Rounder Compact Disc 3719, The Whitstein Brothers: Sweet Harmony.