Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Petunia and The Vipers

 

Petunia & The Vipers thrive on the challenge of adding Latin rhythms to a country blues tune, or gypsy flavouring to a rockabilly standard. Petunia defies convention and yet there is some conservancy to his music. His honest, cut to the heart songwriting and multi-syllabic narratives would leave a lesser singer tongue-tied and breathless. I know, I’ve tried it. One of the many themes running through Petunia’s lyrics relates to living life on one’s own terms – fearlessly and without regret.

 

Petunia – ACOUSTIC guitar, VOCALS, sometimes Yodeler, occasional Trumpeter.

Spending the early part of his career playing on every major street corner, subway station and park bench in Canada (and NY city), picking, grinning and singing for his living, Petunia has been a regular on the Canadian touring circuit for many years now…he has a unique, surreal style all of his own…his live performances have been likened to an Avant-Country night club scene from a David Lynch movie.

Growing up in rural Ste.-Dorothee, Laval, (Quebec) seems like an obvious connection for a sometimes country blue yodeler. Picture shady creeks with fallen tree bridges, and secret hiding spots. Part wanderer, part musician he’s been on the road for full years at a stretch at times…sometimes propelled by nothing more than his outstretched thumb alongside of the trans-canada highway. Maybe you’ve passed him by yourself? He has laid his hat and made his home in many, many spots along the way as befits a wandering troubadour…his traveling libido has led him to secure bands of musicians spanning across three continents. He has played with literally hundreds, and maybe thousands of musicians (personal highlights from recent west coast tours include Phil Alvin, Exene Cervenka, Wanda Jackson). Imagine that David Lynch and Nick Cave had a hillbilly baby. A hillbilly baby that yodeled…or Tom Waits meets Elvis at Woody Guthrie’s hobo junction.

Petunia’s music grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. His singing ranges from the most delicate you’ve ever heard to the most powerful, often within a single song. With a piercing gaze, he will look into the collective soul of the audience, and launch into some high and lonesome vocals that conjure up the ghost of Jimmie Rodgers. Not content with mesmerizing the crowd, his tapping boot will propel the band into a snarling fire and brimstone rave-up as a wave of frantic jitterbuggers compete for space on the hardwood dance floor…hillbilly-flavoured-swing inflected-ragtime-goodtime-thunderously rolling-one-of-a-kind-you-don’t-want-to-miss-this-sort-of-a-show. Though he has a huge repertoire of music to draw from, fans continue to cry out for the Petunia originals. He is a Canadian treasure that will soon join the pantheon of legendary performers from north of the 49th.

Members of The Vipers:Petunia

Stephen Nikleva – Electric GUITAR. Stephen Nikleva is a musician’s musician who’s lifted any band he’s been involved to the next musical level with his superb playing and arranging. Stephen has graced an eclectic mix of bands from the hardcore hillbilly rockabilly of Ray Condo to the real deal Romanian Gypsy music of Vancouver’s Lache Cercel, to pop folk star Sarah Mclachlan.

Teaming up with Petunia gains Stephen the opportunity to blend all these styles into Petunia’s unique blend of traditional and original music. Stephen and Jimmy were well described in the Vancouver Western Swing newsletter as the ‘Twin guitar heart of the late Ray Condo’s band’ and are carrying that spirit on with Petunia and the Vipers.

Jimmy Roy – a veteran LAPSTEEL GUITAR player, with years of playing professionally behind him. Formerly with Ray Condo & The Ricochets, he then put in years of touring and recording with Big Sandy. Prior to all that he led the much-loved Jimmy Roy’s 5 Star Hillbillies, which had a heavy influence on the European rockabilly and country scenes in the late 1980s, particularly with respect to a revival of interest in the steel guitar. With a unique and beautiful voice on the lap steel, his playing, instantly recognizable, is admired around the world. Ray Condo used to refer to JR as ‘the scholar of the hillbilly sound’, referring to JR’s lifelong interest in country, rockabilly and western swing music. He goes far enough back that he would spend his allowance buying 78s of Johnny Horton.

Marc L’Esperance – DRUMS & backing HARMONY VOCALS. From Jazz to Rockabilly to Folk to Blues, he’s the fella with the groovy sticks and brushes that makes this band really swing. His Great Grandfather was a fiddling champion back in New Brunswick, and Marc’s been known to bring out the violin now and then himself. His playing began with a Hohner harmonica at age 5, teaching himself old-time classics like Turkey In The Straw and Oh Susannah. Marc is well known for producing and engineering, and is proud of his award winning work in the recording studio with Ray Condo, Nomeansno, The Twisters, Veda Hille, Paul Pigat, Linda McRae, Headwater and many others.

Patrick Metzger – Upright BASS. Patrick is an outstanding musician who tours and records with several groups, most notably the popular Vancouver bands Headwater and The Leah Abramson Singers. He brings a solid swinging sound to his playing that instantly propels people onto the dance floor.

Sam Shoichet – Upright BASS. Sam is the consummate professional who is at home with many styles of music, and indeed, thrives on diversity. From Romanian swing to rockabilly, blues, jazz and Afro-beat, Sam can be found gigging around Vancouver most of the week, and occasionally on tour with The Vipers. Sam can be heard on most of the tracks of the new Petunia & The Vipers self-titled album.

James Lillico – Upright BASS. Young James has made quite a name for himself in just a short few years of playing around Vancouver. He grew up in a family steeped in musical tradition with bluegrass and old time country music infused in his blood. Bass player of choice with numerous outfits in town, he had his bass signed in appreciation by Sleepy LaBeef after backing him in his appearance at The Yale on a last minute call. He plays with an honesty and mature ease that belie his youth.

Wintergrass 2017 Performers-John McEuen Trio

A founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (now in their 50th year!) John McEuen has continually performed since 1964 – 8,500 concerts and 300 television shows throughout more than 3 million miles – with the band and as a solo performer. Beyond performing, he has a rich history of creating, producing and preserving original and traditional folk and acoustic music, and taking it to new audiences.

He brings his guitar, banjo, fiddle, and mandolin along with favorite Dirt Band songs and the stories behind them to the stage in a manner that recently earned the honored Best in the West Award from the Folk Alliance Organization.

McEuen has made over 40 albums (6 solo) that have earned four platinum and five gold recognition awards, Grammy nominations, CMA and ACM awards, an Emmy nomination, IBMA record of the year award, and performed on another 25 albums as guest artist. He’s also produced more than 300 concerts throughout his career – the first in 1965 in Long Beach Calif., with Bob Dylan.
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His production of Steve Martin – The Crow won the 2010 Best Bluegrass Album Grammy. The Music of the Wild West CD- produced by McEuen, was honored with the Western Heritage Award. A Grammy nomination for String Wizards II preceded the1994 Uncle Dave Macon Award for his excellence in preservation and performance of historic music. On Sirius/XM’s The Bridge, John’s popular Acoustic Traveller show is now in its 8th year. . McEuen produced and directed the 2006 documentary film The Dillards – A Night In the Ozarks, which captures his early mentors at their best.

McEuen’s countless jams include street performers to Phish, Earl Scruggs, Levon Helm… and even on Sesame Street with a herd of goats and a cow! Arguably, McEuen’s most important legacy may be his initiating what Rolling Stone called “The most important record to come out of Nashville” and what the 2004 ZAGAT survey called “the most important record in country music” – Will the Circle Be Unbroken…

Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Darlingside

Darlingside first toured as a five-piece indie rock band with drums, but finding the right delicate balance of voices and instruments was a challenge early on. Then, in 2013, the band parted ways with their long-time friend and drummer. “In our first few shows without Sam, we felt naked,” says Auyon. Listening to the current quartet, you can hear fingers on strings, breathing in the singing, squeaks and pumps from a harmonium. The band now performs the songs the same way they practice and write them—seeing them live is like sitting in their living room. There are still vestiges of the rock format: electric guitar fuzz and ambient feedback creep into otherwise acoustic arrangements. But in the new format, voices and melody have shifted to the forefront—a shift that has become important to the band. Harris explains, “we try to write songs that exist out of the context we set them into, songs that can just be sung.”

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After six years of playing together and a decade-plus of knowing each other, the band’s collaborative process has evolved side by side with their friendships. “We’ve become intimate with each other’s childhoods, families, fears, goals, insecurities and body odors,” Auyon notes. “That kind of closeness is typically limited to romantic relationships. It’s gotten to the point where we often mistake each other’s stories and memories for our own.” Birds Say is a patchwork of the artistic and personal visions of four equal songwriters—a mashup of their individual and collective experiences and dreams. “The process is so entangled,” Don says, “I sometimes can’t remember what I wrote, or what anyone else wrote. We don’t consider a song finished until we’re all satisfied with it. It may not be the fastest process, but we know that when we all agree on something, it’ll sound like us.”

 

DON MITCHELL‘s oldest memory (age 2) is of a colorful dragon kite that folded down into a can on his parents’ sailboat ‘Acacia.’ More pertinently, he remembers growing up in rural Connecticut, where his musical training began as a boy alto in Chorus Angelicus and as a liberally-freckled cast member of such regional theater productions as “How to Eat Like a Child.” Adolescence came and went in its unflattering way, leaving Don with a repository of skillz including guitar, juggling, and uncanny Dr. Claw impressions. At college, he studied songwriting, music theory, and animal tracking, each of which is indispensable to him now as his alter-ego Doug, the band’s official Road Food Scout. Doug’s greatest finds, which include a vegan/vegetarian buffet located inside a Hare Krishna Temple in Dallas and a toothsome kombucha bar-cum-sandwich shop in Richmond, are traditionally celebrated with hearty pats on the back and rousing cheers for “More Doug!”

A feeble child, young AUYON MUKHARJI‘s lack of athleticism and physical prowess prompted his parents to enroll him in music classes at the tender age of three in the hopes that he might one day be a well-rounded college applicant. He proceeded to play the violin at a mediocre level throughout his youth, drifting in and out of youth symphonies and orchestra summer camps. He began mixing with the wrong crowd in college, which inevitably led to a years-long stint of a cappella singing and frequent experimentation with the mandolin. Upon graduation, he traveled around the world for a year as a vagrant musician, studying folk music in Ireland, Brazil, and Turkey. Auyon has been referred to as “naïve, without financial wherewithal, and most probably very anxious to return home” in the LA Times, and as “an embarrassment and a hooligan” by his mother, Jyoti. He serves as the band’s Director of Special Projects.

HARRIS PASELTINER has been playing cello classically since age 6. He has also played guitar self-taughtingly since sometime in high school. In his spare time, he enjoys playing Dave’s bass, or the organ he discovered at the town dump, or his erhu, or Auyon’s mandolin, or the organ that the band was given in Illinois, or perhaps Auyon’s saz, or Don’s banjo. As the old adage goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” Regarding music, Harris is like a horse that drinks substantial amounts of water whenever it is available. And regarding other things, Harris is often like a horse that is very thirsty and would you mind taking it back to the water, please? (Harris will also happily drink a pour-over, or scotch, or a nice pu-ehr if you were to lead him to one of those.)

As a child, DAVID SENFT would cry at the thought of going to college because he thought that singing was mandatory (his older cousins having all been in college singing groups). Young Dave preferred doodling in class, naming individual trees, and anything involving computers. His first website, at the age of 15, was devoted to the number 8. In college, Dave chose his extra-curricular activities based on which organizations seemed to need a new website, and wound up in a singing group after all. Soon after, he enrolled in a songwriting course with two friends, made a website for the class, and never looked back. Dave then spent two years after college as an itinerant street performer, and began learning bass when the band formed in 2009. If he’s not making music, or this website, he’s often found preparing breakfast, or looking for anything at all that might have been grass-fed.

 

Wintergrass 2017 Performers-Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley

This unique collaborative effort between two uniquely gifted musicians is bound to be a revelation to traditional music fans on several counts. Rob Ickes is a longtime, well-established instrumental giant, and Trey Hensley is newly arrived in Music City, bursting with talent both as a vocalist and guitarist. Their new album, Before the Sun Goes Down, is slated for release this winter.trey-hensley-rob-ickes-bluegrass-from-the-forest-2016-watermarked-5

From his powerful yet sympathetic vocal interpretations of traditional and contemporary material to his jaw-dropping instrumental skills on both acoustic and electric guitar and considerable songtrey-hensley-rob-ickes-bluegrass-from-the-forest-2016-watermarked-10writing talents, Trey Hensley is bursting at the seams with freshness and musical excitement. His resonant baritone voice is rich, expressive, and equally at ease with classic bluegrass, traditional country, and original compositions. Raised in Jonesborough, Tennessee, Trey began playing guitar and singing when he was 10 years old. Invited by Marty Stuart and joined from the wings by Earl Scruggs, Trey Hensley landed on the Grand Old Opry when he was only 11. To this day, Marty Stuart remains a fan and booster. Trey has already in his young life played with Johnny and June Carter Cash, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner, The Oak Ridge Boys ,and Janie Fricke. He’s appeared on bills with Sara Evans , Charlie Daniels, Peter Frampton, Randy Owen, Steve Wariner, and Marty Stuart, and has appeared before President George W. Bush, First Lady Laura Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Rob Ickes has been playing bluegrass with his much-decorated band Blue Highway for over twenty years, during which time he has been adjudged Bluetrey-hensley-rob-ickes-bluegrass-from-the-forest-2016-watermarked-4grass Dobro Player Of the year fifteen times. Rob has played on countless sessions, recording with artists such as Merle Haggard, Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless, and Alison Krauss. He has also helped form a jazz –oriented trio, Three Ring Circle, along with Andy Leftwich and Dave Pomeroy. His most recent album Three Bells is a true dobro summit, collaborating with fellow greats Jerry Douglas and the late Mike Auldridge. He even once received a surprise phone call from admirer, jazz guitar and harmonica master Toots Thielemans! In Before the Sun Goes Down, the listener will have the chance to view Rob Ickes, by now an acknowledged master of the dobro and lap steel guitar, outside of the box.

Rob has been a supporter since he first heard Trey, a happening that came about in an unusual way. He became aware of the young man’s enormous vocal talent when he heard his scratch vocal (suggested by the album’s engineer) on Rob’s band Blue Highway’s album The Game. Wayne Taylor and Tim Stafford of Blue Highway penned the song “My Last Day In The Mine.” The band had initially hoped to have a prominent lead singer outside the band to perform a guest vocal of the song for the album but found themselves falling in love with the youthful Trey’s evocation of the world-weary working man’s fears of leaving the only job he’d ever known. Trey was 22 at the time. Trey’s vocal was used on the completed product and has since received considerable positive notice, as has the entire album. Shortly thereafter, Trey and his wife Amber relocated to Nashville, and Rob has been showing Trey the ropes.
Before the Sun Goes Down promises to be a breath of fresh air on the country music scene today while bringing traditional country and bluegrass music to the forefront. Accompanied by some of the finest, most accomplished musicians in Nashville , Rob and Trey tackle a diverse group of songs, put a fresh spin on some old ones, polish up some more recent hits, and offer up an original from Trey – all the while drawing influence from artists as diverse as Jimmy Martin, Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Billy Joe Shaver, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Buddy Emmons, Jimmie Rodgers, and Bob Wills. In addition to Rob, Trey’s sterling vocals are bolstered by a band which includes Aubrey Haynie or Andy Leftwich on fiddle, the ubiquitous (and mighty fine) Nashville acoustic bassist Mike Bub, and drummer John Gardner. Others featured are Jon Randall, Susanne Cox, Dan Tyminski, Shawn Lane, and Ron Block.

Before the Sun Goes Down was recorded mostly live with minimal overdubs, fixes, punch-ins, or even very many takes, and with all the musicians in one room in only a few days of studio time. Rob, the driving force behind the album and the man largely responsible for its creation, says that his favorite albums by the pioneers of the music, the ones that made him want to make music in the first place, were made in the same manner. The spontaneity and sheer joy of creation among a small group of master musicians is palpable in listening to the completed product.

Wintergrass 2016 Performers-The Steel Wheels


Some things come to be in their own time, of their own accord. Such has been the case with The Steel Wheels. In the beginning, it was simply a matter of four young men who’d happened to cross paths at a formative moment in each of their lives reveling in the shared experience of plucking acoustic instruments and blending their voices. But over the years, what had begun organically as a pure lark evolved into a mission: to fuse the personal with the universal, the deeply rooted past with the joys and sorrows of everyday existence.

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These thematic and stylistic vectors intersect powerfully on Leave Some Things Behind (released April 14 on the band’s own Big Ring label), a deeply human, emotionally authentic work that interweaves timely songs with timeless sounds. On the album, co-produced and engineered by Ben Surratt, the four band members—lead singer/guitarist/banjo player Trent Wagler, standup bass player Brian Dickel, fiddler Eric Brubaker and mandolin player Jay Lapp—are joined on various tracks by rootsmusic luminary Tim O’Brien, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Sarah Siskind (who co-wrote two songs and sang on another), drummer Travis Whitmore and Hammond B3 player Ethan Ballinger. Together, they’ve wrought a work that is musically intricate and conceptually resonant, the sounds serving the songs at every moment.

Memorable original tunes like the sorrowful “Heaven Don’t Come by Here,” the anxious “End of the World Again,” the a cappella tour de force “Promised Land,” the indigenously metaphorical “Find Your Mountain,” the autobiographical “Rescue Me, Virginia” and the climactic “Every Song Is a Love Song” are bound by a plainspoken eloquence and an unforced urgency, while the dual kickers “We’ve Got a Fire” and “Warm Wool, Soft Leather” seem tailor-made for the Grand Ole Opry stage circa 1968—as if intimating some of those precious things we’ve left behind.

The band’s genesis dates back to 2004, when Wagler, Dickel and Brubaker were college students in Harrisonburg, Virginia, which sits in the Shenandoah Valley an hour’s drive from Charlottesville. “The school we met at is Eastern Mennonite University,” Wagler recalls, punctuating the reveal with a wry chuckle. “That begs the next question, which is, ‘Why in the world did you go to Eastern Mennonite University?’ One of the unique things about our band is that all four of us grew up in Mennonite families—and I hesitate to even use the word because many people who don’t have much experience with Mennonites see that as Amish, but that’s not accurate. It was more of a secular Mennonite upbringing. So that was where the three of us met, but we didn’t start the band right away.”

As undergraduates, Wagler played bass and Dickel guitar in a punk-leaning alternative band, but over time they developed an interest in acoustic music, as Trent learned flatpicking and began writing songs, while Brian studied guitar making at a school for aspiring luthiers. They began performing casual gigs as a duo, and it wasn’t long before Brubaker began playing with them, expanding the nascent group’s sound with his fiddle and bass voice, which enriched the harmonies. Once Wagler crossed paths with mandolin player Jay Lapp on the local folk circuit, the lineup was complete— although none of them realized at the time that these four like-minded friends had begun the process of becoming a going concern. After making an album together under Wagler’s name, they continued to play informally for the next half decade, while also recording a 2007 LP as Trent Wagler and the Steel Wheels. Concurrently, they worked day jobs and started families.

Finally, they took the leap of faith, throwing their lots together as The Steel Wheels, a band name redolent of steam-powered railroad trains, America’s industrial age and the buggies of their Mennonite forebears. Their initial offering as a committed unit, 2010’s Red Wing, put the newly minted full time band on the map at the dawn of the folk-music renaissance; the LP spent 13 weeks on the Americana Music Association’s Top 40 chart, while the track “Nothing You Can’t Lose” was named Best Country Song at the Independent Music Awards. The Steel Wheels’ visibility continued to increase via 2011’s Live at Goose Creek, 2012’s Lay Down, Lay Low (the IMA’s Album of the Year) and 2013’s No More Rain (the last-named containing live-off-the-floor re-recordings of pre-Red Wing material), they spent much of their time traveling the blue highways and interstates behind these records, while Wagler found the time to build a stockpile of new songs.

Leave Some Things Behind stands as the culmination of these five years of maturation and intensive roadwork. Whereas the previous albums were essentially collected snapshots of The Steel Wheels at certain points in time, the new work turns on a concept that dates back to Homer—and the Old Testament.

“We had more songs for this record than ever before,” Wagler points out, “and that caused us to ask, ‘How does all this stuff fit together, and what’s it about?’ A theme emerged, which I’d been somewhat conscious of as I was writing—the Exodus theme. I don’t want to overstate the biblical aspect, but those biblical metaphors are big metaphors in our lives regardless of the institutions they come from. I was fascinated by the notion of going away from home to look for something. But the further we go toward something, the further we’re inevitably going away from something else, meaning those ideals come at a cost, sometimes small and mundane, sometimes huge. You see the theme running through the album, overtly in ‘Promised Land,’ hopefully in ‘Rescue Me, Virginia,’ and existentially in ‘Heaven Don’t Come by Here,’ which opens with the image of an unmarked grave. And ‘End of the World Again’ is about the things you leave behind when you leave home, and in following what you’re seeking, not knowing whether there’s gonna be anything left when you come back.

“That narrative of following your dreams and stepping against your own comfort zone was replayed for me in the lives of my parents and grandparents, and I left home, too,” he continues. “It’s hardly a unique story; we live in a transient culture, and we move for many different reasons. That’s the personal side, but I think this music also connected to the other guys in the band in that all four of us are dads now. We travel and tour; that is our livelihood, and when we’re gone we’re really gone. But when we come off the road, we’re really home. So we live with that push and pull.”

Home, family, community (further evidenced in the band’s annual Red Wing Roots Music Festival, the third edition of which will take place in July), a sense of belonging, seeking and finding, the pendulum of gains and losses—these are the Big Issues embedded into the fabric of Leave Some Things Behind, an album that promises to be as enduringly relevant for the listener as it will always remain for the dedicated artists who poured their hearts and souls into its creation.

“What sets The Steel Wheels from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia apart from many bands is the combination of their stellar instrumentals, accentuated by the one of a kind lead vocal of Wagler, and keenly supported by strong harmonies. Eric Brubaker on fiddle, Jay Lapp on mandolin, and Brian Dickel on bass weave in and out intricately throughout this record, painting vivid imagery which flows effortlessly, just teasing the lyrics enough to allow them to resonate within you.”

Country Standard Time

Wintergrass 2016 Performers-Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver

There is so much you can write about both Doyle Lawson and his band Quicksilver so we will just post a condensed version. For more information on this Doyle and Quicksilver here is a link to his website.DLQ-front11

With nearly 40 albums to their credit, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have multiple Grammy, Dove, ICM, IBMA and SPBGMA Award nominations, and are 7-time winners of IBMA’s Vocal Group of the Year. Lawson is reigning SPBGMA Mandolin Player of the Year, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver are the reigning Inspirational Country Music Association (ICM) Vocal Group of the Year, crowned in October 2012 at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center, on the heels of Lawson’s induction into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame at the Ryman Auditorium on September 27, 2012.

From Doyle’s website:

I met Jimmy Martin when I was 14 years old. He is from Sneedville, TN where we had moved to in 1954. Around that time, I made up my mind that I wanted to play music for a living, and realized that only playing one instrument was somewhat limiting, so I made it a point to learn how to play the banjo and guitar, too. Four years later, in February 1963, I went to Nashville and got a job playing banjo with Jimmy Martin. In 1966, I started working with JD Crowe in Lexington, KY. I first played guitar and later switched to mandolin. In 1969, I was back with Jimmy Martin for about six months playing mandolin and singing tenor but then went back with J D Crowe until August of 1971. I started with the Country Gentlemen on September 1, 1971 and stayed with them until March 1979. By this time, I had played in bands for more than 10 years, that had their “sound” before I joined them. I wanted to put together a group that would have “my sound”.

To that end, in April 1979, I formed a group that I first named Doyle Lawson & Foxfire but soon changed to Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. I was looking for “our sound” and that first group tried many different types of songs. I wanted a strong quartet like the ones my dad used to sing with. In the next few months, Terry Baucom, Jimmy Haley, Lou Reid and I laid the foundation for what has become the Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver sound. The makeup of my band has changed many times in the last 27 years. I jokingly tell folks that Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver is the “farm team” for bluegrass. I try to integrate each member’s special talents into my group, while not sacrificing the Quicksilver sound. While the sound changes a bit with the introduction of a new band member, it is important to me that people hear what they expect to hear when we take the stage, no matter who is in the group.

And about Quicksilver:

Stephen Burwell:fiddle-

Stephen was born in Angleton, TX on March 5, 1994, son of Edwin and Cheryl Burwell. He has five brothers and 2 sisters. His mother home schooled all of them! His family lives in Maple Valley, WA, but he relocated to North Carolina in early September 2014, to pursue a career in bluegrass.

His violin playing started at age 8, when he began group lessons at his church. A bit later, he wanted to get into the quicker, happier side of the fiddle, he studied with Pete Martin for five years. Stephen counts Stuart Duncan and Aubrey Haney as early influences. He played and won many contests in the Northwest, and he especially loves Texas-style fiddle.

Though his career has been relatively short, Stephen has played with several bands…North Country, Faust & Blair, and Brother’s Keeper, a gospel group. Along with his sister, Sarah, his brother, Seth, and friend, James Meyers, he formed the Christmas band, Twelfth Night. Stephen has appeared at SPBGMA and IBMA events.

In his spare time, Stephen plays music and enjoys all aspects of recording. As the newest member of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Stephen feels like God sent him east at just the right time.

Josh Swift: Dobro –

Josh was born on September 25, 1986 to Randy and Rhonda Swift.  His dad was and still is a phenomenal musician so Josh loves music naturally.  At 6 months old, Josh was making noises with his mouth in time with music he was hearing.  He started playing drums when he was 2 years old and eventually started traveling with his family on the Southern Gospel circuit. When he was 16, Josh was playing a session when he saw a dobro for the first time.  He just HAD to have one!  About a year later, Gibson Guitars gave him his first dobro.  At 17, Josh played with a local group called Set Apart.  He fell in love with Mountain Gospel while traveling with those guys.  At 18, he became a part of Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain.

At 19, he had left CHHR and was filling in with some friends in Gatlinburg, TN when Doyle Lawson rounded the street corner and listened for nearly a half hour.  Little did he know that he would soon be invited to jam with DLQ and that that jam turned out to be a showcase at IBMA.  Doyle asked him if he knew a song of his and Josh replied “I’ll know it by the time it gets to me.”  Doyle hired Josh that night on October 5, 2007.

He says, “This gig is an absolute BLAST and I am honored not only travel with DLQ, but to find myself constantly learning life’s lessons.  God has been so so so good to me and I give him ALL the glory.” On July 24th 2008, Josh married his first love, Tobi.  They are expecting their first child in 2011.  Josh and Tobi live in middle Tennessee and go to church at Cookeville First Assembly.  They have two dogs, Henry and Peanut.  Josh spends lots of time with his family when not on the road and he loves to play golf.  Italian food is his favorite.

Josh’s favorite Bible verse is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Josh plays a multitude of instruments…dobro, lap steel, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, mandolin, banjo, drums, and piano. He uses D’Addario strings… EXP42’s,  EXP17’s, and EXP74’s.

Joe Dean:banjo-

Joe Dean was born on July 18, 1989 to Joe Dean Sr. and Tammy Dean of Granite City, IL. His parents soon realized he had an interest in music when Joe saw The Eagles perform on televison at 4 years old. Joe told his parents he wanted to be just like Don Henley and play in front of people and write songs. He received a guitar for his 5th birthday and from there learned to play mountain dulcimer, mandolin, and finally banjo by age 12. Joe spent his teen years playing at local bluegrass festivals in and around the St. Louis area. In 2006, he joined Barry Scott and Second Wind and played on their Grammy Nominated gospel release “In God’s Time.” After graduating high school in 2007, Joe landed a job with Dailey and Vincent as the founding banjo player and bass singer, and spent 5 years there. In April 2012 Joe was asked to be part of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Along with being a multi instrumentalist and vocalist, Joe has been developing his craft as a songwriter over the last couple years penning songs with Mike Rogers, Tom Botkin, Kevin Denney, and Walt Gabbard.

Joe met his wife Ashley in 2009 backstage at the Grand Ole Opry and they have been together ever since. They reside in Cookeville, TN and attend Smithville Freewill Baptist Church. In his spare time, Joe enjoys the outdoors. Hunting and fishing are his two main activities. He is also an avid hockey fan.

Dustin Pyrtle:guitar-

Dustin Pyrtle was born July 25, 1990 to Anthony and Lisa Pyrtle of Westfield, NC. Born into a musically talented family, Dustin took interest in music at age 8. His dad taught him to play the guitar. It wasn’t until around age 10 that his family noticed he loved to sing and was pretty good at it! It took a couple years and a lot more self-confidence before Dustin recognized the scope of his talent.

On his 14th birthday, Dustin received his first guitar, a Martin D2R, which he continues to play today. With the help of his uncle, Randy Pyrtle, and family friend, Kent Smith, Dustin learned to play upright bass. This was the instrument he played with bands Broken Wire, No Speed Limit, Riverview and The Josh Williams Band.

Dustin’s music career took a turn when the teenage band, Broken Wire (which consisted of Nick Keen, Houston Caldwell, Asa Gravely and Courtney Burroughs), heard him at The Rex Theatre in Galax, VA. Later that year, they invited him to the Galax Fiddlers Convention and this is when he was invited to play in their band. These members and their families have been very supportive of Dustin and his career. And for this Dustin will be forever grateful.
Other bands Dustin has played with include Amber Collins and No Speed Limit, Ashlee Blankenship and Blades of Blue, Riverview, Grasstowne, and The Josh Williams Band. Influences have been Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, Keith Pyrtle, Lou Reid, Doyle Lawson, Tony Rice, Adam Steffey, Lonesome River Band, Ronnie Bowman, Blue Highway just to name a few.

Dustin has had the opportunity to meet so many friends along this journey and looks forward to meeting so many more. With God’s grace, he has been so blessed to be able to follow his dreams.

He resides in Danbury, NC and plans to wed Nicole Clark in the fall of 2013. He attends Minnie’s Chapel Wesleyan Church in Stuart, VA. With his spare time, Dustin likes to duck hunt, deer hunt, turkey hunt, fish and spend time with his family.

(In loving memory of Houston Caldwell and Randy Pyrtle. Gone but not forgotten.)

Eli Johnston:bass-

Eli Johnston was born to Alycia and David Johnston on March 1, 1986, and raised in the Tri State area of southeast Kansas. His parents now live in the Branson, MO area, and he has two younger brothers, Adam and Isaac. Eli started playing and writing music at the age of 15, when his Grandpa gave him his first guitar. Soon he began playing bass and banjo, and tagged along with his Dad to many bluegrass events in the area.

After high school, he pursued his music career by playing with several bands in the area. When Eli was 21, he took a job in a theater production show called the Tennessee Shindig, and stayed there for about five years. In the last few years, Eli has been performing with Midnight Flight, Monroeville and Firewater Junction, and in Gatlinburg, TN. Eli cites J. D. Crowe, Alison Krauss and Union Station, Tony Rice and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver as his musical influences.

Eli is currently living in Hartford, TN. In his spare time, he loves to write songs and fish. Eli enjoys movies (Happy Gilmore, Beverly Hills Ninja) and especially likes a good fish fry.

Eli is more than excited to start a new chapter in his career with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. He says, “I’ve never had the opportunity to play with this caliber of players and singers. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver is a well-oiled machine and I’m honored to be part of the group!”

Wintergrass 2016 Performers-Joe Craven and The Sometimers

Joe Craven has found a couple of hot young pickers worthy of his chops: wild man bassist Jonathan Stoyanoff and Bruce MacMillan dazzling with crafty dobro, acoustic guitar pickin’ and angelic voice. With Joe’s wildly eclectic musicality, the sonic possibilities are unlimited. I just saw this new trio and… WoW!

                                                  – PBS television producer Peter Berkow

J“Joe Craven and The Sometimers” featuring Bruce MacMillan and Jonathan Stoyanoff, adhere to a “no genre left behind” policy of music making while leaping from a springboard of Americana. They perform impressively credentialed and possess enough poetic license to operate heavy machinery. Their analog/power tool box includes both upright and electric bass, various guitars, Dobro, lap steel, mandolin, octave mandolin, fiddle, more cowbell and who knows what else. This new NorCal roots music trio is celebration for a new framework of POP music, as in “Pursuit of Possibility” music. Give ’em a listen and you just might do a little dance while you’re at it!

Multi-instrumentalist Joe Craven is an award-winning creativity educator, former museum curator, actor, music festival emcee, Director of RiverTunes Music Camp, a Co-Director for the Wintergrass Youth Academy. Joe Craven’s love of performing music has put him in many musical genres and alongside many musicians, from Jerry Garcia, David Lindley, Howard Levy and Jason Marsalis, to fusion banjoist Alison Brown and groups such as Psychograss and The Horseflies. For 17 years, he was percussionist and violinist for mandolinist David Grisman. Joe’s unique education programs have inspired; communities in Costa Rica, corporate heads in Contra Costa, CA, a dozen different music camps, thousands of school kids from Stockton to Scotland and college students from Alaska to Alabama. Whether jamming with musicians from Morocco or Mendocino, performing solo, with his daughter Hattie, The Joe Craven Trio, Mamajowali, The Sometimers or playing Carnegie Hall to busking on Cannery Row – Joe’s at home and loving every minute!

Jonathan Stoyanoff is a much in demand bassist who is a fan of, trained in and very proficient at, a wide variety of vernacular music. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA on a performance scholarship and, since then, Jonathan has helped form and perform in a variety of musical projects. He has played and/or shared bills with Larry Coryell, B.B. King, Robert Cray, Huey Lewis, Dave Mason, Jackie Greene, Ozomatli, Spearhead, Maceo Parker and many more. Jonathan has also played at some of the nation’s most prestigious festivals including the Monterey Jazz Festival, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, and the High Sierra Music Festival. He brings a high level of skill and enthusiasm to Joe Craven & The Sometimers.

Bruce MacMillan is a wonderfully intuitive musician dedicated to the holy temple of American Roots Music. His passion for the history and variety of America’s musical heritage has resulted in a versatility across many musical genres. From Blues to Bluegrass, Country to Jazz and Rock & Roll, Bruce plays with wonderful energy and artistry. He has performed upon many stages and at many music festivals, including the Strawberry Music Festival, High Sierra, and California Worldfest. With his wife Sally, they have two fine music stores in Chico and Redding, CA, known as The Music Connection where Bruce displays his chops as an educator, repairman and salesman. Bruce’s impressive skills on vocals plus all manner of guitars, Dobro and lap steel, bring a broad palette of sound to Joe Craven & The Sometimers.

Joe Craven and the Sometimers kicked off our Peacetown Summer Concert Series with a big bang. Folks danced, sang, and cheered the music of these incredible musicians.

-Jim Corbett,  Promoter / Educator