The two principals are Tim Raybon, long time grasser and younger brother of Marty Raybon, who played bass and sang alongside his brother since they were teens, and Daniel Grindstaff, a powerhouse banjo picker who worked with Marty and Tim, and with Bobby Osborne and Jim & Jesse for many years.
You can take a hint of what their music will be like in the name they chose for the band. A shared passion for the crunchy bluegrass of Bill Monroe and the smooth country of Merle Haggard is what Daniel and Tim like to perform. Both men grew up listening to this sort of honest, down home music, and expect it to form the basis of their sound.
The two met working with Marty’s bluegrass show, causing Tim to remark of Daniel, ”He was the best banjo player I had ever heard and an adamant professional.” Raybon will play slap-rhythm guitar, with Jayd Raines on bass, and Josh Doss on lead guitar. A fiddle player will be added shortly, and included on their upcoming album.
Working largely in his brother’s shadow, most bluegrass lovers will be unaware of Tim’s talents as a vocalist, with a strong tenor voice quite different in character from Marty’s. And as a songwriter, he can deliver a fast-paced love song or a tender ballad with equal ease.
A full album of Merle Monroe music is in the works, but Pinecastle has included a new Christmas song that Tim wrote on their just-release collaboration record, A Very Acoustic Christmas. It’s called Oh The Joy Of Christmas, and you can hear a sample below for a taste of the Merle Monroe style.
A debut album from Merle Monroe is nearly finished, and expected sometime in 2019. It will be focused on straight ahead bluegrass, with a couple of ballads, most of it written by Tim Raybon.
Look for a single after the first of the year.