Banjo legend JD Crowe is nothing if not a survivor. Very few bluegrass artists have made a career leading a band without being a lead vocalist, but Crowe has not only done so, he has managed to both succeed over 30 years with a number of singers out front, and also assemble several of the most groundbreaking and memorable bands in the history of our music.
His band, The New South, was responsible for introducing such influential voices as Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley to wider audiences. A great many other current bluegrass pros spent time with The New South, including Don Rigsby, Darrell Webb, Richard Bennett among them.
His 2007 band, who recorded with him on their latest CD, Lefty’s Old Guitar, was properly regarded as one of his finest. It was also one of his longest lived, staying together as a unit for a solid 7 years. The band featured Ricky Wasson on guitar and vocals, Dwight McCall on mandolin and vocals, Ron Stewart on fiddle and Harold Nixon on bass. Wasson and McCall had been with Crowe several years before Nixon joined in 1999, and Stewart joined full time in 2000.
With Ron Stewart now gone to play banjo with The Dan Tyminski Band and Harold Nixon leaving to pursue other opportunities, Crowe found himself once again looking for new members to fill out his touring group.
He told us that he had been dreading the idea of holding auditions, and possibly having to hire inexperienced younger musicians.
“It doesn’t seem like those guys were with me that long, but when you get 7-8 years out of a guy, you’re flying high.
Before I could think about auditions, Steve Thomas called about the fiddle gig, and John Bowman when he heard about an opening on bass. Steve had filled in with me several times when Ron couldn’t make it, and I probably would have called him anyway. Steve is a great fiddler and a great guy.
John will be singing as well as playing bass, and we’re glad to have him with us.”
Steve Thomas has worked with several well known bluegrass bands, including The Osborne Brothers, Jim & Jesse and Lost & Found. John Bowman was a member of both The Issacs and Alison Krauss & Union Station.
They will be rehearsing this weekend, and do their first show on January 18 at the Paramount Arts Center in Ashland, KY. They’ll also be at SPBGMA in Nashville in February, with a Station Inn show that week as well.