American Drive to debut at IBMA

So what happens when an enduring bluegrass institution grinds to a halt?

In the case of J.D. Crowe & The New South, whose nearly 40 year run is coming to an end with Crowe’s impending retirement, a new band is set to rise from the ashes.

This new group will make their official debut during September’s World Of Bluegrass Convention in Nashville, when the non-Crowe members of The New South re-emerge as American Drive, with Grasstowne banjo man Justin Jenkins playing the five.

Mandolinist and vocalist Dwight McCall shared a few words about the new venture, and their debut single.

“It’s me along with Rickey Wasson, Kyle Perkins, and Matt DeSpain with Justin Jenkins on banjo. We have a single being released today called Long Haul Trucking Man, and will have a new CD in October on Rural Rhythm.

We are honored to have been a part of one of the greatest bands in the business, J.D. Crowe & The New South, for so long. Now that J.D. has decided to retire, we are looking to our future and are pleased to be starting this new band.”

Long Haul Trucking Man: []

Young Mr. Jenkins has been turning heads with his banjo playing since he was in his teens, playing with Blue Moon Rising. On the road with Grasstowne this past two years has seen him grow into a solid, complete and mature picker, ready to “step into Crowe’s shoes,” in a manner of speaking.

“To me, Crowe and Scruggs set the bar for all banjo players. Stepping in with the guys who have played with Crowe for so long is an absolute honor. They have stood beside the best, and for them to consider me is a bit overwhelming, and very humbling at the same time.

I cut my teeth listening to The New South music, and it’s a dream come true to be playing with these guys. Rickey and Dwight like that same kind of music, and it just fits perfectly with what I want to play.

It’s exciting to get to play the kind of music I grew up listening to. I’ve always been a big fan of Rickey and Dwight’s singing, and I have all their CDs. We’re going to be playing material off their CDs, and our new record.

I think it will be a lot of fun!”

American Drive will go full time in 2013, and Justin will continue on with Grasstowne through the end of the year, or until they find someone to take his spot.

“I hated to leave Grasstowne. I have a great relationship with all those guys, but the travel will be much easier for me with the new band based in Kentucky, where I live. I have a lot of respet for Alan Bibey and all the guys in Grasstowne. They are my best friends, but the way the music business is, things don’t last forever. It was a hard place to be in telling them I was leaving.

I am really going to miss playing with them – even more, getting to hang out with them all the time.”

The band already has a number of shows booked for next year, and anyone interested in having them in for a show should contact Dwight McCall or Rickey Wasson.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.