Barry Abernathy working on first solo project

Barry Abernathy with Mountain Heart at Gettysburg (May 17, 2012) - photo by Frank BakerBarry Abernathy might not be as prominent in the bluegrass world as he once was, but the noted banjo picker and vocalist has set to work this year to do something about that.

The Georgia native spent most of his youth in the bluegrass world, working for Doyle Lawson and IIIrd Tyme Out before becoming a founding member of Mountain Heart in 1998. He stuck with them until 2014, when he transferred his ownership stake over to the remaining members.

But you can’t keep a good man out of the bluegrass biz once it’s taken root, and Barry is starting on his first solo recording project this month with old friend Jim Van Cleve co-producing. After so many successful projects with Doyle, IIIrd Tyme Out and Mountain Heart, it seems appropriate for Barry to do one on his own.

Jim says that they have picked out some great material, and have a stellar lineup ready to help out in the studio.

Jim Van Cleve and Barry Abernathy with Mountain Heart at the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival in 2011 - photo by Ted Lehmann“I suppose it may be cliche to say this, but the cast of characters really does read a bit like a who’s who list. The core band will consist of Sam Bush, Bryan Sutton, Rob Ickes, Jason Moore, Ron Stewart, Barry, and myself. There will also be special guest appearances from Vince Gill, The Isaacs, Doyle Lawson, Dan Tyminski, Steve Gulley, Rhonda Vincent, and Shawn Lane for starters, with possibly a couple more surprises. The great David Hall will be engineering the tracking, and I’ll be engineering some overdubs as well as mixing and mastering the project.
More than anything, I’m excited to get to work with my old buddy again, and excited for him to finally be doing this record!”

Barry has always been an inspiration to many folks in music. Though he shies away from any praise, he had to overcome a serious left hand deformity to learn to play the banjo. A birth defect left him with no fingers on his left hand, just a thumb and several partial digits. But he plays a driving five with an intensity and ease that is quite remarkable to see.

No word yet on when we can expect to hear music from this new effort, but it’s safe to say that it will be worth waiting for.

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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.