It’s the oldest story in the history of bluegrass. A talented young musician dedicates much of their early life to mastering this quirky and demanding music. If a little luck comes their way, they connect with an up-and-coming band and receive a journeyman’s education in the traveling life. There may even be a peek at the big time, where success and a comfortable living await.
But after a few years on the road every weekend, especially if they are leaving a young family at home, the grind can get to you, and a more normal existence may start to look appealing. This describes what a good many bluegrass artists face as they go from budding, wide-eyed pickers to young professionals in our business.
The latest to fit this profile is Luke Dotson, guitarist and vocalist with Mountain Faith. 2015 was a whirlwind for this band who saw themselves go from a major festival draw to a serious mainstream attraction through their stellar performances on America’s Got Talent last summer.
Luke not only toured with the band since 2014, but until the television show took them all away from home for several weeks at a time, he also worked with the rest of the band members at High Country Tire, a full service tire center, gas station, and country store owned and operated by band bassist, Sam McMahan and his brother. But Sam is much more than the bass player. He is father to Summer, the band’s engaging lead singer, and Brayden, their bearded banjo player.
It became part of Mountain Faith lore during their TV run that they all worked in the tire shop during the week, and headed out each weekend to perform all over the US. It was a good fit and a fun, family atmosphere, with mandolinist Cory Piatt living with the McMahans as well, like a big family.
But for Luke, the only married member of the group (outside of Sam), the arrangement wasn’t working, and he has left the band as of the start of 2016. He tells us that he and his wife closed on a house in Hendersonville, NC while the band was in New York doing America’s Got Talent, closer to her job, but too far for him to make the daily drive to Sylva where the tire shop is located.
He says that he wants to remain in the music business, but hopes to find a position with a bit less demanding schedule so that he can focus on his relationship with his wife. Bluegrass spouses give up a lot of time with their beloved pickers, and while we all love being able to see our favorite artists close to home, it can be tough for the folks left behind.
Dotson is booking some solo shows until he gets picked up by another group.
Mountain Faith will move their newest member, David Meyers, from fiddle and cajon to the guitar slot.
Fortunately, it seems that everyone is still on friendly terms. Luke Dotson and Mountain Faith will continue on in bluegrass, but on separate paths.