Stuart Duncan, multi-GRAMMY Award winner, multi-year winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Fiddle Player of the Year” award, multi-year wins of the Academy of Country Music “Fiddle Player of the Year” award, National Fiddler Hall Of Fame inductee are just some of the highlights of Stuart’s extremely impressive musical career. He has masterfully played fiddle, guitar and/or mandolin on countless chart hitting records with a countless number of Nashville’s most famous stars: Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, Keith Urban, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, only to name a mere few. His ability to play multiple music genres has spread his album credits to include recording for Jewel, Elvis Costello, Bruce Hornsby, James Taylor, and many more. Stuart has become known for his fiddle improvisational skills on The Goat Rodeo Sessions with Yo Yo Ma, Chris Thile, and Edgar Meyer. His bluegrass music credits also include a never-ending list of of the hottest artists in the business like Del McCoury, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Tim O’Brien, Jerry Douglas, Larry Sparks, Bryan Sutton, Scott Vestal, Bela Fleck, Noam Pilkelny, and literally hundreds of others.
When I first started playing bluegrass in the early 70’s, I saw Stuart Duncan playing at a bluegrass festival with The Pendleton Pickers. As time went on we saw each other playing at many of the yearly outdoor California bluegrass festivals and would occasionally get in some good jams together with other good musicians, like John Hickman, Byron Berline, Craig Smith, Dave Diaz, Billy Constable, or Vince Gill.
Stuart has the same understanding of bluegrass tradition as I do, combined with his own creative, hot modern stylistic approach. In the recording process he improvised a different solo on every pass. His solos are often incredibly hot and aggressive, and on other tunes he’s beautifully smooth. The subtleties in his backup intertwine brilliantly with the other instruments from unique rhythm figures, long bow lines, to counter melodies and harmonies. I am honored that Stuart agreed to learn and record my tunes on Carolina Chimes.
Stuart Duncan has been a member of the Nashville Bluegrass Band since 1985, currently continuing to hold the fiddle spotlight in the group.
Pinecastle recording artist, Jeff Autry is certainly one of the most sought after bluegrass guitarists on the professional bluegrass circuit. He has performed and/or recorded with some of the most famous all time bluegrass artists: The John Cowan Band, The Bluegrass Cardinals, The Travelin’ McCourys, The Larry Stephenson Band, Adkins and Loudermilk, The Lynn Morris Band, Wayne Benson, Scott Vestal, Sam Bush, Ricky Scaggs, Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, Vasser Clements, Tim O’Brien, Peter Rowan, and more. Jeff also has guitar credits on Pinecastle Records award winning instrumental series, Bluegrass 96 thru 2001, and his own 1999 solo album, Foothills.
WhenI first heard Jeff Autry’s guitar work on Scott Vestals banjo instrumental CDs and Wayne Bensons mandolin album, I knew Jeff was the right guitar man for this original project. Jeff plays a driving, aggressive grassy rhythm guitar with deep roots in tradition, a hot melodic lead, all with his own imaginative touch. I feel lucky that Jeff made time in his busy performance schedule to do the recording sessions for my Carolina Chimes Project.
Jeff currently tours with The Edgar Loudermilk Band Featuring Jeff Autry.
Nashville session musician, GRAMMY nominated acoustic music artist, two time International Bluegrass Association “Bass Player of the Year” award winner, Mark Schatz, has recorded and/or toured with many of the finest acoustic musicians and some of the most well known top notch bluegrass bands over the years: The Bluegrass Album Band Vol.5, The Claire Lynch Band, The John Hartford Stringband, Bela Fleck, Tim O’Brien, Molly O’Brien, Tony Rice, Larry Rice, Jerry Douglas, Bryan Sutton, David Grier, Jim and Jesse, Doc Watson, Sarah Jarosz, Jimmy Guadreau, Wayne Benson, Scott Vestal, The Country Gentlemen, Bill Emerson, Nickel Creek with Chris Thile, and many more. He has also recorded two of his own acoustic CD projects, Brand New Old Tyme Way, and Steppin’ in the Boiler House, both featuring his multi-instrumental talents and song writing compositions.
Known for their great timing and feel, Mark Schatz and Jeff Autry have played bass and guitar respectively on countless Nashville country and bluegrass sessions. Jeff recommended Mark to play bass on my Carolina Chimes Project saying he would fit in perfectly with the rhythmical feel of my tunes; I was inclined to agree and he was absolutely right. Mark plays bass lines to compliment the melody in a special way, while still maintaining the solid drive and pump of the music. That’s what It’s all about.
Mark still holds his place as primary bass player for the The Claire Lynch Band as he has for many years.
Rob has become a mainstay professional musician in the Asheville acoustic and bluegrass music scene in a relatively short time. He has played bass for a number of North Carolina regional, nationally known touring bands and artists.
I met Rob in Asheville soon after we both moved here almost 10 years ago. Rob and I started playing in the North Carolina band, Blue Wheel Drive with Billy Constable on banjo. Soon after, and for the next two years we played together with Multi-GRAMMY Award winning fiddler, Bobby Hicks, at many festivals and concerts as the The Bobby Hicks Band. Blue Wheel Drive ended up recording a CD that I produced and recorded with all the band members’ original songs. Rob is easy to work with, loves great bluegrass, and has great musical ideas. Blue Wheel Drive had been playing my tune, “Rockalachia” at many of our shows, so I had to ask Rob to record on my Carolina Chimes Project. I Love that walking bass he does – He just nailed it!
Feeling at home playing bass in a variety of music styles from bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, swing, and rock, Rob Parks is the most full time bass man in and around Asheville North Carolina, often performing multiple gigs each day. When you hear him play you will know why.
Rob currently plays regularly with the West End Trio, Whistlepig, and Blue Wheel Drive (with Rudi Ekstein).
John Plotnik, Foxfire Recording artist, has been playing bluegrass music professionally on banjo, dobro, and guitar in California for many years. He has played and/or recorded for a variety of California based bands and artists including Foxfire, Liberty, The Walden Dahl Band, All Washed Up, The Brombies, Dennis Fetchet, Brantley Kearns, Leroy Mack, Tom Sauber, as well as GRAMMY nominated Patrick Sauber, Bill Bryson, and Herb Pederson, to name a few.
While on tour with the Walden Dahl Band, John worked playing banjo and dobro in China for a year and another year in Japan. Living in California, John has had the opportunity to work full time as a bluegrass musician on his three main instruments working for the Disneyland Park, California Adventure Park, and Knotts Berry Farm – No wonder he’s so good!
I have played with my old friend and bandmate, John Plotnik for many years. He has played many of my tunes on stage and in the studio, well before we recorded “Carolina Chimes” together. I have always loved John’s approach to tasteful bluegrass, no matter what instrument he’s playing; He has been a big influence in my bluegrass style and it would have been hard to do my project without him. I hope everyone enjoys his soulful dobro and driving banjo playing as much as I do.
John Plotnik currently plays at the theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, as well as for the bands All Washed Up, and The Brombies (with Patrick Sauber).
Patrick started playing traditional music at a very young age in California with his Dad, Tom Sauber, master old time fiddler and clawhammer banjo player. After mastering Cajun accordion, Patrick soon started performing on banjo, mandolin and guitar. He plays them all as if he was Kentucky born with instruments in hand. Now with a GRAMMY nomination to his name, Patrick has performed and/or recorded for many well known national touring bluegrass acts and world renowned musicians: Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, The John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, John Reischmann and the Jaybirds, Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien, Doc Watson, Dan Crary, Curley Seckler, Richard Greene, David Grisman, Roland White, Alice Gerrard, John Fogerty, Bill Bryson, Tom Sauber, Herb Pederson, The Brombies and others.
Patrick and I played together a few years ago in a California regional band that often featured my tune, “Spikebuck” as a set closure at many bluegrass festivals and concerts. We sometimes got standing ovations for the tune surely because of Patrick’s world class, hard driving, fast and furious, always tasteful, banjo style – A powerhouse musician who always made me sound my best.
Patrick Sauber currently tours and records with Tim O’Brien, the Peter Rowan Band, Laurie Lewis and the Right Hands, The John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band, John Reischmann and the Jaybirds, and with The Brombies (with John Plotnik).
Western North Carolina native, Rebel Records recording artist, Seth Rhinehart was born with deep roots in bluegrass tradition; even his grandpa played banjo. Seth started playing banjo at the early age of 12, and only 4 years later became so competent that he recorded his own first studio album entitled, “Come On In.” His CD release soon resulted in Seth becoming one of Asheville’s and Western North Carolina’s most sought after musicians. He has performed and/or recorded with many WNC regional bands including: Carolina Blue, Buncombe Turnpike, Whitewater Bluegrass Company, Blue Wheel Drive, and others. Former Bluegrass Boys, Mark Kuykendall and multi-GRAMMY winning legendary fiddler, Bobby Hicks (National Fiddler Hall of Fame inductee) hired Seth to play banjo on their national tours and to record 2 albums in their band, Mark Kuykendall, Bobby Hicks & Asheville Bluegrass.
I moved from California to North Carolina so I could play more bluegrass with my life long friend and band mate, Billy Constable. Thanks to Bill, I met a lot of very good musicians in Asheville within the first few weeks; Seth Rhinehart was one of those guys.
Seth and I have played together on stage at shows, at jams, and casual gigs over the years. We both have similar musical tastes and enjoy the same styles of grass. I chose him to play on my two latest tunes, “Rockalachia” and “Dixie Sunset,” both written recently while living in Asheville, North Carolina. I consider Seth a player who listens carefully, plays tasteful banjo solos and backup with a natural innate feel for traditional bluegrass timing. He enhances the tune appropriately, while making every musician around him sound great. That’s what makes him such a fine sought after musician.
Seth Rhinehart is currently playing banjo with Whitewater Bluegrass Company as well as Mark Kuykendall, Bobby Hicks & Asheville Bluegrass.
Now a Foxfire Recording and CMH Records recording artist, Rudi discovered his love for bluegrass music in the early 1970s, learning to play in many different bluegrass bands on a variety of instruments including mandolin, banjo, guitar, dobro, and upright bass. He is now dedicated to the art of bluegrass mandolin and singing baritone. Over the years he has written quite a number of bluegrass tunes for all the bluegrass instruments; Twelve of his favorites are featured on Carolina Chimes. On ten of the cuts, he played an iconic July 9,1923 Gibson F5 Lloyd Loar Mandolin.
Rudi has performed on stage with many internationally known bluegrass musicians including the legendary multi-GRAMMY Award winning fiddle player Bobby Hicks, multi-GRAMMY Award nominee fiddle player Byron Berline, award winning banjo hotshots: John Hickman, Billy Constable, Dennis Caplinger, and GRAMMY Award nominees, Craig Smith and Patrick Sauber, as well as two-time GRAMMY Award winning bass player Gene Libbea, from The Nashville Bluegrass Band, GRAMMY Award nominee and original Bluegrass Cardinal bass player, Bill Bryson, three members of the Country Boys (later the Kentucky Colonels), bass man Eric White, banjo player, Billy Ray Lathum, and dobro player, Leroy Mack.
His various California band projects with Foxfire, Liberty, Silverado, with banjo great Patrick Sauber, as well as North Carolina band, Blue Wheel Drive featuring legendary fiddler Bobby Hicks, have showcased his talents playing dobro or mandolin, and baritone vocals. His array of recording credits on various CMH Records Pickin’ On Series CDs over the years include playing cuts with GRAMMY award winning, Punch Brothers fiddler, Gabe Witcher, award winning multi instrumentalist, Dennis Caplinger, multi GRAMMY Award nominee dobro player, Rob Ickes, multi GRAMMY Award nominee, Herb Pederson, and many others.
Rudi currently plays with The Gary Mackey Band and bluegrass band, Blue Wheel Drive (with Rob Parks).