This is fun series in which we ask bluegrass music personalities, some famous, some not so famous, about some of their interests as well as about the music that they love.
Joining me this morning is Tim Surrett, a member of the award-winning bluegrass band Balsam Range with whom he plays bass and is occasional resophonic guitar player.
Having learned to sing as a youngster, Surrett has been a professional musician since he finished high school. He is a Southern gospel singer of some renown, singing lead and baritone during a decade with the Kingsmen Quartet. During his years with the group, the quartet received the Singing News Fan Award for Favourite Band of the Year for seven straight years, from 1989 to 1995 inclusive. He had a second spell with Kingsmen from 2002 to 2005.
Surrett was voted Favorite Musician by the Singing News readers in both 2004 and 2005.
In 1991 he assisted friend Mickey Gamble in the formation of The Mountain Home Music Company recording label, now a premiere bluegrass music label with global distribution.
For a while in the mid-1990s Surrett sang and played Dobro with the Isaacs.
In 1999 he released the first of two solo albums Mountain Home (Mountain Home MH 0780-02). That was followed in 2006 with a self-titled CD (released by Crossroad, CR06732), a collection of bluegrass, Gospel, and bluegrass-Gospel songs, including compositions by Albert Brumley, the Louvin Brothers and Ralph Stanley.
That diversity is also shown in the list of musicians with whom he has performed or recorded – Ralph Stanley, Larry Sparks and Tony Rice; with the Primitives; and with Country music stars Vince Gill, Brad Paisley and Keith Urban.
In 2007 Surrett helped to found Balsam Range.
In 2014 he was honored with an IBMA Mentor award and in 2015 he was named IBMA Bass Player of the Year.
Last September (2015) Tim Surrett was elected to the position of Chair of the Board of Directors of the IBMA.
What would you like to drink?
“Black, strong coffee!”
Do you want anything to eat as well?
“I’m good, thanks.”
What’s your favorite food?
“PF Chang’s kung pao shrimp!
Followed closely by chocolate.”
And what would you have to drink with that?
“A lot of diet cokes.”
What’s the nicest meal that you have ever had?
“The steakhouse at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. I enjoyed a very special anniversary dinner there with my wife, Hope, last December.”
Let’s talk bluegrass….. Where/when did you first hear bluegrass music?
“My dad played bluegrass and country music when I was growing up. In my teenage years, I played with some of the same folks, including Marc Pruett!”
Which of your own songs do you have a particular liking for?
“I’m not really a good songwriter. I’m better at arranging, I think. But as for the band (Balsam Range), I’m partial to our version of John Denver’s Matthew and, of course, Moon Over Memphis which won IBMA Song of the Year. I really enjoy putting songs together.”
What about a song written by someone else?
“I really love Trains I Missed. It’s got a really good message. The song was written by Walt Wilkins and Gilles Godard.”
Which particular album do you like best and why?
“Probably The Kingsmen’s Live Naturally, or the band Kansas’ Leftoverture. The Kingsmen introduced me to Gospel music with drive and passion. Kansas had a sound that just absolutely captured me. I still love both albums.”
What’s your favorite bluegrass project of all time and why?
“It would have to be Bluegrass-The World’ Greatest Show. That’s the first time I heard the Seldom Scene;
Mike Auldridge, and especially, Tony Rice with the New South. Rice was the hook for me!”
You play a bass…What model is it?
“For recording, I play a 1945 Kay, and on the road, I use Buddy Melton’s Chadwick Folding Bass.”
Of all the instruments that you have owned what’s your favorite instrument?
“My grandfather’s 1945 Martin D-18.”
What’s your favorite bluegrass memory?
“Winning Entertainer of the Year with Balsam Range, and walking on stage with Tony Rice as a member of the Unit. I was proud just to fill in with him.”
How do you keep fit and healthy when you spend so much time on the road?
“That would be Waffle House!”
Are you a sports fan? Who do you follow?
“I LOVE football. My favorite teams are the Redskins and Panthers, and my seven year old’s pee wee team, the Junaluska Warriors!”
What hobbies do you have?
“I love to hunt and fish. In fact, I am chatting with you from a deer blind with my son.”
Favorite Hobby or Collection?
“After music, hunting, fishing and family time, there’s not much room for anything else, but all of those keep me satisfied and motivated.”
What is the last movie film that you watched?
“The Searchers is the last movie I watched AND it is my favorite. I watch it on my phone every time we fly!”
Do you get much time to watch TV?
“Not too much.”
What’s your favorite show?
“I like watching NFL football. I also enjoy Last Man On Earth.”
What would you be doing if you weren’t involved in bluegrass music?
“I worked for the Child Protective Services in my previous job. I loved it, but it was a hard job. You never feel you can do enough.”
Tim Surrett lives in Canton, North Carolina, where he was born and raised.