As the festival season roars into full throttle, a few band members are changing hands as bands reshuffle once again. Kenny & Amanda Smith have brought on one new full time team member, and one temporary member.
First let’s talk banjo. With Joey Cox leaving the band at the end of June, banjo legend Terry Baucom, the legendary The Duke of Drive, will be stepping up to the mic for the remainder of the summer. Recognized for his hard driving, traditionally-styled banjo playing, Terry brings a depth of experience to the stage. I spoke with Terry on the phone earlier today and he told me he was excited about the chance to pick with Kenny and Amanda for the rest of the year.
Kenny’s got the drive to his guitar playing that just makes it fun to pick the five over it! It’s gonna be a jamming good time and I can’t wait to get started.
Terry did say however, that he was already committed to a number of shows with The Mark Newton Band prior to Kenny’s call, and will be honoring that commitment. Kenny has yet to announce who will be filling those dates in Baucom’s absence. Due to his renewed dedication to teaching, recording his own solo CD, and a series of instructional DVDs, Terry will only be filling in with Kenny and Amanda for this season, and not on a permanent basis.
The Red White & Bluegrass Festival in Morganton, NC will be Terry’s first gig with the band, on July 3, 2007.
Now on to the mandolin… With the departure of Jason Robertson from the band, Kenny & Amanda called up a young local mandolin picker they thought was ready for the gig. Enter Aaron Williams. At the age of 15, Aaron is a force to be reckoned with on the mandolin, having recently won the 2007 Merlefest mandolin contest. Kenny produced a solo album for Aaron not that long ago and was so impressed at the time with Aaron’s musicianship, he Aaron that if they ever needed a mandolin player, they’d give him a call. He never expected it would be this soon.
Kenny and Amanda have been heroes of mine since I started playing, and I have long admired their music and musicianship. Amanda’s voice is just so clear and sincere, you can’t help but to believe every word. And Kenny has such a taste to what he does; everything he plays sounds perfect, like it was made for the song. They are the coolest people you could ever want to meet, and have been so good to me. I’m absolutely thrilled to be able to play in such a creative band with such great people. It’s a dream come true.
I’ve known Aaron, and picked with him on occasion, for several years here in the Southwest Virginia area. He’s a disciplined young picker whose future in bluegrass is bright. His parents home school him and have said that he will be allowed to keep playing even during the school year as long as he keeps up with his school work. Of course that means working extra hours, but I’m sure he’s up to the challenge.
Be sure to visit Kenny & Amanda Smith’s tour schedule to find a show near you where you can hear the band with the new additions.