Category: E

Eanes, Jim

JIM EANES

  • From Martinsville, Virginia.
  • Nickname: “Smilin’ Jim Eanes” (His given name is Homer—but chose his stage name, “Smilin’ Jim” in 1939.)
  • A pioneer of bluegrass music. Began his career in 1948 with Flatt & Scruggs, then Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.
  • Solo career: 1949, had hit record “Baby Blue Eyes” (Capitol Records); Early fifties, recorded “Missing in Action” (Blue Ridge Records) which reportedly sold more than 400,000 copies; 1952, had hits “I Cried Again” and “Just Suppose” (Decca).
  • 1955-1962, leader/lead singer for The Shenandoah Valley Boys (which included banjo whiz Allen Shelton)
  • Late 60’s, recorded several albums backed by The Country Gentlemen.
  • Songwriting credits: “Baby Blue Eyes”, “Next Sunday Darling is My Birthday,” and “I Wouldn’t Change You If I Could.” His songs have been recorded by Flatt and Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Reno and Smiley, George Jones and Ricky Skaggs.
  • Was a disc-jockey on several country radio stations.
  • 1988, inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • Died in 1995.

Earl Brothers, The

THE EARL BROTHERS

  • Based in the San Francisco area (although band members are from Virginia, Florida and New York City.)
  • Formed in 2000 by banjo player Robert Earl Davis (from Richmond, Virgina).
  • Other members: John McKelvy (guitar), Larry Hughes (mandolin) and Josh Sidman (bass).
  • They are a full-time touring band and have traveled extensively, including Europe and Australia.
  • Their music has been called “Honky-Tonk Bluegrass,” “Hillbilly Gothic,” “Neo-traditional” and “Outlaw Hillbilly.”
  • 2004, released album titled Whiskey, Women & Death (no label).
  • 2008, founding member John McKelvy departed.
  • 2012, released Outlaw Hillbilly album (no label).

Earle, Steve

STEVE EARLE

  • Born in Fort Monroe, Virginia; grew up in the San Antonio, Texas area.
  • 1974, moved to Nashville to write songs.
  • Mid-80’s, recorded for Epic Records, scored several hit records, including “Guitar Town (1986),” and “Goodbye’s All We Got Left” (1987).
  • He has won three Grammies and has had songs recorded by Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, many others.
  • 1988-1994, went rock and recorded several albums which were generally ignored by country radio. He became something of a cult figure. He has had several run-ins with the law, including a drug charge.
  • 1998, recorded a bluegrass album called Mountain and toured with the Del McCoury Band. This was his only foray into bluegrass music.

Earls of Leicester, The

THE EARLS OF LEICESTER

  • From Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Pronounced “The Earls of Lester.”
  • A bluegrass supergroup formed by Jerry Douglas to pay tribute to the music of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. They re-enact the songs of Flatt and Scruggs by performing them in similar costumes and choreography.
  • Band members (2013): Jerry Douglas (Dobro™), Tim O’Brien (mandolin), Shawn Camp (guitar), Johnny Warren (fiddle), Charlie Cushman (banjo) and Barry Bales (bass.) Subbing for O’Brien (who is also a member of the reunited Hot Rize): Shawn Lane, Ronnie McCoury and Frank Solivan.
  • While the name of the band is a pun, there have been many actual Earls of Leicester in Great Britain, part of the English “peer system” of dukes and earls which bestows automatic membership in the House of Lords. The current “7th Earl of Leicester” is Edward Douglas Coke, b. 1936. His heir apparent is Robert Edward Coke, b. 1965.
  • 2014, released their debut album Earls of Leicester on Rounder Records.
  • 2015, won the Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
  • 2015, Jeff White took over the mandolin spot in the band.
  • 2015, won IBMA Awards for Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year and Gospel Recording of the Year.
  • 2016, released Rattle & Roar album (Rounder).
  • 2017, won their third consecutive IBMA Award for Entertainer of the Year.
  • 2018, released Live in the CMA Theatre in the Country Music Hall of Fame album (Rounder).

East Coast Bluegrass Band, The

THE EAST COAST BLUEGRASS BAND

  • From Virginia.
  • Formed in 1985 to compete in the East Coast Bluegrass Band Championship in Crimora, Virginia. After winning the contest, they just kept the name.
  • Members: Buster Sexton (banjo), Mike Andes (mandolin), Frankie Hawkins (guitar) , Darin Lawrence (guitar), Bill Ledbetter (bass), and Mitchell Davis (fiddle). Buster’s son Chris Sexton replaced Davis in 1997.
  • 1986, won the Virginia Folk Music Society State Bluegrass Band Championship.
  • 1998, released “Life’s Highways” album on Copper Creek Records.
  • 2000, the group broke up. Andes and Davis (now playing banjo) continued to play with the group Nothin’ Fancy, which had formed in 1994.

East Virginia

EAST VIRGINIA

  • From Norfolk, Virginia.
  • Formed in 1974 by brothers Art and Joe McDonough.
  • The only bluegrass band to get its start in a barbershop. “Jack’s Barbershop” in Norfolk, Virginia held jam sessions on Friday nights. A bar owner across the street asked them to play (for free beer) and they came up with the name, based on one of the songs they had learned, “East Virginia Blues.”
  • 1977, released “The Winds of East Virginia” album (Major).
  • 1977, released “Sings of Witches and Whippoorwills” (Lark).
  • 1979, released “New Sounds, New Seasons” album (Rounder).
  • 1980, released “Pathways of Tradition” album (Rounder).
  • 1981, broke up but re-united in 1999 to record “Back Home in East Virginia” album (Copper Creek).

Easter, Jeff and Sheri

JEFF AND SHERI EASTER

  • From Lincolnton, Georgia.
  • Sheri is the daughter of Polly Lewis (Williamson) of the Lewis Family and Jeff is the son of James Easter of the Easter Brothers. Their marriage brought together the two most well known family groups bluegrass gospel music.
  • 1984, they met at the Albert Brumley Gospel Sing in Springdale, Arkansas.
  • 1985, they married and began performing together as part of the Lewis Family show.
  • 1988, they struck out on their own.
  • Since then, they have become one of the most popular recording and touring acts in southern gospel music. They have won numerous Dove awards and are regulars on Bill Gaither’s “Homecoming” TV programs.

Easter Brothers, The

THE EASTER BROTHERS

  • From Mount Airy, North Carolina.
  • Formed in 1953 by brothers: James, Russell and Ed Easter.
  • One of the first full-time bluegrass gospel groups. Started out as the “The Green Valley Quartet” and later changed name to the Easter Brothers.
  • Made first recordings in 1961 for King Records. Carlton Haney arranged the session and the band included Don Reno, Allan Mills and Mac Magaha.
  • During the 1960’s they frequently appeared with Don Reno and Red Smiley.
  • 1979, they became a full-time touring group.
  • James, Russell and Ed performed together for over 60 years, later joined by two of their sons, Jared and Russell, Jr.
  • James’ son Jeff married the daughter of Polly Lewis of the Lewis Family, bringing together the two “first families” of bluegrass gospel music. Jeff and Sheri Easter became one of the most popular acts in southern Gospel music.
  • 2019, Ed passed away at age 84.

Edelman, Judith

JUDITH EDELMAN

  • From New York City. Has lived in Idaho, Jackson Hole, Nashville.
  • 1993-1995, sang lead with a Crested Butte, Colorado band called Ryestraw.
  • 1996, formed her Judith Edelman Band with Matt Flinner and Tony Furtado (of Sugarbeat); Released album Perfect World (Compass).
  • 1997, added Ben Winship to her band (of Loose Ties).
  • 1998, released Only Sun album (Compass).
  • 2000, released Drama Queen album (Compass).
  • Music is her second career. Her first was international development. In 1990, she was working in Africa when she decided to take guitar lessons and pursue a career in music. She also has experience as a rape crisis counselor.
  • Is also a classically-trained pianist.
  • Her father won a Nobel Prize in 1972.
  • 2003, formed an electric Judith Edelman band.
  • 2009, released Clear Glass Jar album (Thirty-One Tigers).

Edwards, Ray

RAY EDWARDS (AND HARD ROCK MOUNTAIN)

  • From Arcadia, North Carolina.
  • A bluegrass multi-instrumentalist, he won the banjo championships at Carlton Haney’s Camp Springs Bluegrass Festival (1973) and Union Grove Fiddler’s Convention (1974).
  • 1970, joined the High Country Boys.
  • 1973, worked with Southbound.
  • 1975, worked with Jeannie C. Riley.
  • 1978, worked with Tom T. Hall.
  • 1984, worked with Ed Bruce.
  • Best known as a songwriter, he co-wrote “Hard Rock Mountain Prison (‘Til I Die)” with Larry Cox and Terry Foust, a #1 song for Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out. His songs have also been recorded by Darrell Webb, Monroeville, Nu-Blu, Grasstowne, Special Consensus, Jeannette Williams and many other bluegrass artists.
  • 2012, released Portrait of a Bluegrass Songwriter (Rural Rhythm) with his band Hard Rock Mountain featuring Edwards’ songs recorded by other artists.
  • 2018, released A Golden Anniversary Celebration album (Pinecastle).

Ekstein, Rudi

RUDI EKSTEIN

  • From Asheville, NC. He was born in Kansas and lived most of his life in southern California (Los Angeles).
  • The son of Austian immigrants, his surname Ekstein is translated “Cornerstone” in English.
  • 1970’s, began learning all the bluegrass instruments: banjo, mandolin, guitar, and later, upright bass and Dobro™. Played in several southern California bands with good friend and banjo player Billy Constable.
  • 1987, recorded, engineered and produced his first band project featuring his band Foxfire.
  • 1990, founded Foxfire Recording studio in Van Nuys, Calif. where he produced and/or engineered numerous albums for such labels as CMH, Rounder, and Sugar Hill. Artists recorded included Tony Rice, Larry Rice, Chris Hillman, the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, Steve Spurgin, Josh Graves, David Grisman, Gabe Witcher, Richard Greene, Bill Keith, David Grier, Dennis Caplinger, Gene Libbea, Leroy Mack, Patrick Sauber, Herb Pedersen, Bill Bryson, and many others. He was also producer and artist on several albums in the CMH “Pickin’ On” series.
  • 1990, played mandolin with the LA-based band Liberty. They recorded one album “Cornerstone” that was released in 1995.
  • 2004-2006 played with the southern California band Silverado.
  • 2009, moved to Asheville, NC to play with old friend Billy Constable and build a new recording studio.
  • 2012-2015, worked with the Bobby Hicks band and Blue Wheel Drive.
  • 2015, produced an album for Blue Wheel Drive called Hard Driving Bluegrass (Foxfire).
  • 2018, released a solo project Carolina Chimes (Foxfire) featuring his original instrumentals with supporting musicians Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Mark Schatz (bass), Jeff Autry (guitar), Patrick Sauber (banjo) and others.

Eldridge, Terry

TERRY ELDRIDGE

  • From Terre Haute, Indiana. Lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Began playing bluegrass in high school. After graduation he worked with Lonzo and Oscar.
  • Nickname: “Bo-Bo Batelbe”
  • 1988-2000, guitarist and vocalist with The Osborne Brothers. He also worked with Mike Scott’s All-American Band, Wilma Lee Cooper’s Clinch Mountain Clan, Lonzo and Oscar, the Sidemen and other bands.
  • 2000, joined Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time. Also performs with the Sidemen and Drive Time.
  • 2001, he was in a serious auto accident. The force of the collision broke Terry’s ribs, shattered his left leg, ruptured his spleen, punctured his lung and cracked vertebrae in his neck. His recovery took seven months.
  • 2002, toured with Dolly Parton.
  • 2004, left Larry Cordle’s band and formed The Grascals with Jimmy Mattingly, David Talbot and Jamie Johnson.
  • He does voice imaging work for Sirius/XM radio’s “Bluegrass Junction.”

Elkville String Band, The

THE ELKVILLE STRING BAND

  • From Wilkes County, North Carolina
  • Formed in 2001 by Jerry Lankford.
  • They take their name from the Wilkes County town of Elkville – now known as Ferguson – where Tom Dooley was born.
  • Band members: Drake Walsh (fiddle/mandolin/guitar), Herb Key (guitar), Jeff Michael (banjo/guitar/mandolin), Bill Williams (bass)
  • For several years, they served as the house band for a Wilkesboro musical production called “Tom Dooley: a Wilkes County Legend.”
  • Drake Walsh is the son of RCA/Columbia recording artist Dock Walsh, founding member (with Clarence Ashley) of the Carolina Tar Heels (1925).
  • 2008, released Over the Mountain album with guest guitarist Wayne Henderson

Ellis, Tony

TONY ELLIS

  • From Silva, North Carolina. Lives in Ohio.
  • Began playing banjo at age 14.
  • Early bands: The Virginia Mountaineers and the Shady Valley Boys.
  • 1960-1962, played with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.
  • After leaving Monroe’s band, he worked with Mac Wiseman, The Beaver Creek Boys (Bristol, Tennessee) and The All American Boys (with Tom Ewing).
  • 1987, released Dixie Banner album (Flying Fish).
  • 1993, released “Farewell My Home” album (Flying Fish).
  • 1996, performed at the Olympics.
  • 1998, released Quaker Girl album (County).
  • 1999, released “Sounds Like Bluegrass To Me” album (Copper Creek).
  • 2002, formed Tony Ellis and the Musicians of Braeburn. He tours internationally with the U.S. State Department.
  • 2005, performed with Steve Martin, Earl Scruggs, and Peter Wernick on the Dave Letterman show as “Men with Banjos Who Know How to Use Them.”

Emerson, Bill

BILL EMERSON (AND SWEET DIXIE)

  • From Washington, D.C.
  • He is considered of the most influential five-string banjo players in bluegrass music.
  • 1955, first pro job: “Uncle Bob and the Blue Ridge Partners.”
  • 1957, he was a founding member of The Country Gentlemen. He left after a few months and was replaced by Eddie Adcock. Returned to the Country Gentlemen 12 years later.
  • 1958-1969, worked with the Stoneman Family, Red Allen, Jimmy Martin, and Cliff Waldron—in that order.
  • 1966, he and Cliff Waldron recorded the first bluegrass version of the Mannfred Mann song “Fox on the Run.”
  • 1969, returned to The Country Gentlemen.
  • 1973, joined the Navy and played banjo with the U.S. Navy band Country Current (until 1992 when he retired.)
  • 1988, worked with Pete Goble on several projects. Their song “Tennessee 1949” won the IBMA award that year for Song of the Year.
  • 1988, was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame.
  • Founder of Webco Records, which was acquired by Pinecastle Records in 1994.
  • 1994, released a duet album with US Navy band member Wayne Taylor “Appaloosa” (Webco).
  • 1996, released Banjo Man album (Webco/Pinecastle).
  • 1998, recorded and performed with Mark Newton.
  • 2007, came out of retirement to form his Sweet Dixie Band. Released Bill Emerson & The Sweet Dixie Band album (Rebel Records).
  • 2010, released Southern album (Rural Rhythm).
  • 2011, released solo project Eclipse (Rural Rhythm).
  • 2012, released The Touch of Time album (Rural Rhythm).
  • 2014, released Dancin’ Annie album (Rural Rhythm).
  • 2016, received the IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Award.
  • 2019, formed a group with his son Billy called Emerson 414 (414 is the number on his long-time residence). They released a self-titled EP.
  • 2019, was inducted into the IBMA’s Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.

Emmit, Drew

DREW EMMITT

  • From Boulder, Colorado.
  • Plays mandolin. Influenced heavily by Sam Bush.
  • 1984, formed the Left Hand String Band.
  • 1992, formed Leftover Salmon.
  • 2002, released Freedom Ride album with the John Cowan Band (Compass).
  • 2005, formed the Drew Emmitt Band and released second project Across the Bridge (Compass) featuring Cowan, Bush, and the Del McCoury Band.
  • 2008, released Long Road album (Compass).
  • 2010, returned to Leftover Salmon.

Engle, Troy

TROY ENGLE (AND SOUTHERN SKIES)

  • From Glen Rock, Pennsylvania
  • He is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has worked as a sideman with Patty Loveless, Buddy Jewell, The Isaacs, Larry Sparks, Mark Newton, Leon Russell and others.
  • He has co-written several songs with Tom T. and Dixie Hall.
  • He composed instrumental tracks heard on TV Shows like the Voice, American Pickers, Duck Dynasty and others.
  • 2015, after living and working in Nashville for 12 years, he returned to his home in Pennsylvania.
  • 2018, released solo project Southern Skies (Rocky Glen). On this album, he wrote all the songs, played all the instruments, sang all the vocal parts and did all the recording/mixing.
  • He performs with his band Southern Skies, named for one of his songs.
  • 2020, released Fox Hollow Memories: Songs I Wrote with Dixie and Tom T. Hall album (Rocky Glen).

Enright, Pat

PAT ENRIGHT

  • Originally from Indiana. Lived in the San Francisco bay area in the early 70’s. Now resides in Nashville.
  • 1976, formed a San Francisco group called “Phantoms of the Opry.”
  • 1979, joined Tasty Licks, a band that included Jack Tottle and Bela Fleck.
  • 1983, formed a Nashville band called The Dreadful Snakes.
  • 1984, was a founding member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band, playing guitar and singing lead vocals.
  • 2000, appeared in the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou” and sang on the soundtrack album. He was one of the Soggy Bottom Boys.

Evans, Bill

BILL EVANS

  • From Charlottesville, Virginia. Lives in El Cerrito, California.
  • Has degrees in anthropology and music from University of Virginia and a Ph.D in Ethno-musicology from UC Berkeley.
  • 1980-1986, played banjo with Cloud Valley (a Virginia band).
  • 1993-1997, played banjo with the Dry Branch Fire Squad.
  • 1994-5, served as the curator of the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro.
  • 1995, released solo album Native and Fine (Rounder Records).
  • 1996, was elected to the IBMA Board of Directors.
  • 1997, left the Dry Branch Fire Squad to perform solo and to work on his Ph.D.
  • 1997, began performing a one-man show called “The Banjo in America: A Musical and Cultural History.”
  • 2001, started his own record label (Native and Fine Records). Released Bill Evans Plays Banjo album.
  • In addition to his solo performances, he is a member of two bands: The Bluegrass Intentions and Due West.
  • 2008, formed a duo with fiddler Megan Lynch and recorded a CD with her titled Let’s Do Something (Native and Fine).
  • 2012, released In Good Company album with a variety of guest musicians (Native and Fine).
  • 2013, recorded an album with fiddler Fletcher Bright Fine Times At Fletcher’s House: Fiddle and Banjo Music from Lookout Mountain, Tennessee (Native and Fine).

Evans, Dave (and River Bend)

DAVE EVANS (AND RIVER BEND)

  • From Portsmouth, Ohio. Lives in Olive Hill, Kentucky.
  • His given name is actually William, but he became known as “Dave.”
  • One of the few banjo-picking lead singers in bluegrass music.
  • First pro job: with Earl Taylor and the Stoney Mountain Boys (in Yakima Washington).
  • 1972, joined Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers.
  • 1975-1978, worked with Lillimae and the Dixie Gospelaires, Red Allen and the Kentuckians, the Boys from Indiana.
  • 1978, formed his own group River Bend.
  • 1979, released “Highway 52” album (Vetco).
  • 1980, released “Call Me Long Gone” album (Vetco).
  • 1981, released “Goin’ Round This World” album (Rebel).
  • 1982, released “A Few More Seasons” album (Rebel).
  • 1983, released “Poor Rambler” album (Rebel).
  • 1984, released “Bluegrass Memories” album (Rebel).
  • 1985, released “Close to Home” album (Rebel).
  • 1989, his career suffered a setback when he was sentenced to serve ten years in a federal penitentiary on a felonious assault charge. He served six years and was released in 1995.
  • While in prison, he learned to play guitar.
  • 1996, began performing and recording again.
  • 1997, released Just Look at Me Now album (Rebel).
  • 2000, released Bad Moon Shining album (Rebel).
  • 2002, released Hang a Light Out for Me album (Rebel).
  • 2003, released High Waters album (Rebel).
  • 2006, released Pretty Green Hills album (Rebel).
  • 2008, released The Best of the Vetco Years album (Rebel).
  • 2011, underwent a quintuple bypass surgery on his heart. Reports are that he died (flatlined) on the table but survived the operation.
  • 2011, production began on a movie about his life titled “Last of the Breed: The Dave Evans Story.”
  • 2017, died at the age of 66.

Evans, Gerald (and Paradise)

GERALD EVANS AND PARADISE

  • From Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Before forming Paradise, Evans played fiddle and mandolin with the Traditional Grass, Dave Evans and Riverbend, and the Goins Brothers.
  • 1995, Evans released an album with Joe Mullins called Just A Five String & Fiddle (Rebel Records).
  • 2001, released first album “Gettin’ It Done” on Legend Records.
  • 2003, released “Headin’ Home” album on Lavenir Records.
  • 2007, released “Gerald Evans and Paradise” album (no label).

Ewing, Tom

TOM EWING

  • From Columbus, Ohio. Lives in Gallatin, Tennessee.
  • Was the final lead singer and guitarist with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys (from 1986-1988 and also 1989-1996). He appeared on Monroe’s last three albums including Southern Flavor which won a Grammy.
  • Attended Ohio State University; earned degrees in journalism and education.
  • Former member of Earl Taylor’s Stoney Mountain Boys (Cincinnati).
  • 1978-1986, hosted the “Bluegrass Ramble” radio show in Columbus, Ohio (which is still on the air as of 2018, although with different hosts).
  • Has recorded three solo projects (1988, 1989, 1993).
  • 1994, began writing a column for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine (“Thirty Years Ago This Month”).
  • 1994, married Gwen McReynolds, daughter of Jesse McReynolds (Jim and Jesse).
  • 1996, after Bill Monroe’s death, joined David Davis and the Warrior River Boys. Also played bass for Jim and Jesse.
  • 2000, compiled and edited “The Bill Monroe Reader,” published by the University of Illinois Press.
  • 2003, formed a band called “Monroe’s Boys.” Also a band called “Blue Grass Boys Reunion” with other former members of Monroe’s band (Bob Black and Mark Hembree).

Expedition Show, The

THE EXPEDITION SHOW

  • From Nashville.
  • Formed in 2002 by banjo player Blake Williams and mandolin player Bobby Clark as The Williams and Clark Expedition. Also in the group: Wayne Southards (guitar) and Kimberly Williams (bass). Blake and Kimberly Williams are married.
  • Williams and Clark previously worked together as members of the Mike Snider band. Southards is a former member of the Tennessee Gentlemen. Southards is from Salem, Missouri (also hometown of the Dillards).
  • Original name: New Ground. Changed after first album was released because the name was already in use by a gospel group.
  • 2003, 2004, were nominated for IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year award.
  • 2009, Bobby Clark departed and the group was re-named The Expedition Show.
  • 2011, released The Expedition Show album (Mountain Fever).
  • 2013, released Stormy Horizons album (Mountain Fever).