Long-time banjo picker Steve Sparkman has vacated his spot with Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys to accept a position in law enforcement with the Versailles, KY police department.
Steve had been a fixture on tour with Dr. Ralph, coming aboard when Stanley decided to turn over banjo picking chores on his show in 1994 following injuries suffered in a fall. Sparkman’s playing style closely mimics Ralph’s, and his mastery of the Stanley banjo sound led to his production of an instructional DVD, Stanley Style Banjo.
With Sparkman gone, Jarrod Church has stepped in and will perform with the Clinch Mountain Boys on stage. He is also a serious student of the Stanley sound, and released a tribute album Clinch Mountain Banjo A Tribute To The Master, Dr. Ralph Stanley, in 2006. Jarrod also hosts a weekly radio show, the Big Bluegrass Country Show, on WMJD FM in Grundy, VA.
Church is also something of an anomaly in the bluegrass world, playing left-handed on his custom Stanleytone banjo.
I’m sure this is a dream come true for Jarrod, who had been working with the Clinch Mountain Boys as merchandise manager for the past year.