Garrett Newton does Hank Williams

One of the questions you hear asked frequently at festivals in the southeastern US is, “Whatever happened to that talented young banjo picker, Garrett Newton? We used to see him all the time with Lorraine Jordan.”

It’s a good question, as Garrett seemed to be everywhere in 2018, performing with Jordan and her band, Carolina Road, and eventually leading his own Garrett Newton Band. Lorraine served as his mentor, showing him the ropes and teaching the young man the professional side of bluegrass as a business.

The Garrett Newton Band recorded a pair of albums for Pinecastle, but when the pandemic shutdowns closed off live performance, he retreated into farm work, and discovered a new fascination with one of the founders of country music, the great Hank Williams.

Now Newton says that he is assuming the identity on stage, and channeling Hank for a new generation of country music lovers

“Garrett Newton Band got off to a great start, and got to play some of the bigger festivals. We even played in California, Ireland, and Washington State.

I love bluegrass, and enjoy playing the banjo, but I’ve always been a big fan of Hank Williams, Sr. So I decided to put together a Hank Williams tribute band. It’s going great, and I’m the front man and lead singer.”

Garrett has released a video showcasing his new traditional country sound on a new song written by David Stewart and Tommy Barnes, Hank Would’ve Wrote ‘Em All.

Lorraine has seen him singing the old Hank numbers at her venue in Garner, NC, Lorraine’s Coffee House and Music, and says that she is delighted to see him all grown up and taking his own path.

“Garrett impressed me from day one when I met him. He could talk the talk and walk the walk at age 12. He had the right lick on the banjo, and played all the styles. I enjoyed traveling with Garrett playing shows and being a part of his bluegrass career.

Now I enjoy watching him perform the old Hank Williams songs. He’s a great singer, old style guitar player, and MC. I hope he got some some of that from his time traveling with Carolina Road. I’m very proud of him.” 

Check it out…

Newton’s new show is billed as Garrett Newton & The Lovesick Drifters. Performing with him are Alan Hicks on bass, Clyde Mattocks on steel, Steve Shannon on electric guitar, and 13-year-old Lizzy Tobell on drums.

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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.