Darrell Sanders and Larry Stephenson – a Virginians reunion

We got a note recently from Aaron Kilmer, sound tech with West Virginia’s Stoney Creek.

He shared a story about Darrell Sanders, the band’s banjo picker, and his reunion earlier this month with Larry Stephenson with whom he had performed in Bill Harrell’s group during the late 1970s and early ’80s.

“Larry Stephenson recently caught up with fellow Bill Harrell & the Virginians alumni Darrell Sanders. The former bandmates met up backstage before the Larry Stephenson Band’s show with Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper on January 9th in Berryville, VA.  Sanders was also able to reunite with bluegrass veterans Kenny Ingram and Lynn Morris.

It really was a classic moment. Darrell had celebrated a birthday earlier in the week, and as a surprise some of his friends got tickets for the Larry Stephenson show. He hadn’t really seen any of those guys for probably 20 years, although he spoke with Larry over the phone when Bill Harrell passed away last summer. Darrell also knew Kenny Ingram from sharing the stage years ago, and he had jammed on tour with Lynn Morris and Marshall Wilborn.

LSB and Michael Cleveland/Flamekeeper put on an excellent show; probably some of the best bluegrass I’ve heard.”

Stephenson began his professional career with Bill Harrell & the Virginians, playing mandolin from 1979 until 1983. After a stint with Charlie Moore & the Dixie Partners, Sanders joined the Virginians in 1978 while still in his teens and played banjo with the group for the next 10 years. Stephenson and other members of the Virginians played on Sanders’ 1983 instrumental solo album West Virginia Style.

Here’s a video of a much younger Darrell and Larry with Bill Harrell at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in 1981. Carl Nelson is on fiddle and Ed Ferris on bass. Great stuff!

Stoney Creek is in the studio now completing their next album, while Larry is touring in support of his 20th Anniversary CD, due from Pinecastle on February 23.

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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.