J.D. Crowe’s decision to retire from active touring at the end of 2012 has had a number of ripple effects within the bluegrass world.
Among them has been the end of a defining bluegrass institution, The New South. For nearly 40 years, Crowe led his group through inevitable personnel changes while helping launch the careers of such notable artists as Tony Rice, Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Keith Whitley, Richard Bennett and Don Rigsby.
The current edition of the band has brought mandolinist Dwight McCall and guitarist Rickey Wasson to prominence as vocalists, and they, along with Kyle Perkins on bass and Matt Despain on resonator guitar, will continue on without Crowe as American Drive. Their debut CD has recently been released, and they are booking dates now for the next few years.
With last month’s announcement that Justin Jenkins, who tracked banjo for the album, would be sticking with Grasstowne, Dwight and Rickey had a decision to make. Fortunately, a solution was close at hand in the person of Josh Hymer.
Josh lives in central Kentucky, not far from where the band is based. He had been playing this past two years with David Parmley & Continental Divide, but with David taking a bit of a break from touring, the timing was right for him to make the jump.
McCall says that Josh was someone they had initially considered when Crowe decided to retire.
“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Josh to American Drive. He was one of the first people we thought about when we started this band, but he just wasn’t available at the time.
Josh plays with authority and you call tell that he has studied Earl and JD. I’m sure those who haven’t had a chance to hear him play are going to enjoy what he can do.”
Hymer told us this morning that he is delighted with his new gig.
“I’m tickled to death! This is my kind of music, and I couldn’t be more excited to help them out… do my little part to help the music. I’m a big Scruggs/Crowe guy, and this is just a perfect fit.
I’m working with the new CD, and Rickey and Dwight’s CDs, and I’ll be ready when we do our first gig in January.”
If you want to catch Crowe with the New South, there are two more shows scheduled: Thanksgiving weekend in Myrtle Beach, and at The Birchmere on December 8.