Personnel changes are one of the few constants in the running of a band, especially where so many musicians perform as a second career. Family and work pressures often make it more difficult to stick with music, but artists and fans alike adjust to the turnover as a fact of life. It’s most difficult for everyone when a musician is forced to step away because of a health issue that steals their hard won abilities, and such has occurred with Kentucky’s Hammertowne.
Banjo player Brent Pack is leaving the group because of a neurological condition. He suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome in both of his hands, where nerve compression in the wrist leads to often severe pain and numbness in the hands. It can make even common life tasks difficult, and complex motor skills like playing the banjo impossible.
Hammertowne guitarist Dave Carroll says that it has also taken its toll on the band.
“We are a close knit bunch. When something like this happens, its about a lot more than just the musical aspect. We are family. Brent’s contribution to the success of this band cannot be overstated. His playing has influenced as many young banjo players in the last several years as anyone. But our biggest concern is for him and his health. We pray the good lord with intervene and allow him to again share his gifted talent with the world.”
In his stead the band welcomes Dale Thomas, a dedicated musician who has been absent from the bluegrass scene this past 10 years serving in The United States Marine Corps. He will still be familiar to a lot of folks from prior time spent with Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad, The Katie Penn Band, Higher Vision, and The Glen Ritchie Band.
He is a fellow Kentuckian, who Carroll tells us is a perfect match for Hammertowne.
“I first met Dale about 15 years ago. He was just a kid, but it was evident he was going to be a fantastic player, and he certainly has. He is punchy as heck and high energy which is Hammertowne’s calling card. He fits us like a glove and we’re so excited to have Dale on board.”
You can follow the band’s tour schedule online.