This report is a contribution from bluegrass singer and songwriter, Dawn Kenney, whose songs have been recorded by Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Greg Blake, Dave Adkins, and many others.
In the world of bluegrass music, change remains a constant force. Musicians often transition from one band to another, bringing fresh ideas and influences. Some bands maintain stable lineups for extended periods, but it’s more common to see players shifting from one group to the next. The Mike Mitchell Band is no exception, with a newly revamped lineup for 2024.
Based in Floyd, Virginia, the band is fronted by singer/fiddler/songwriter Mike Mitchell. As a songwriter and recording artist, Mike has released three albums. His latest project, Fathers & Sons (Turnberry Records), has produced three charting singles. He is also the owner and operator of the Floyd Music School, and oversees the IBMA Songwriter Mentor program.
Recently, the band bid farewell to the Mosley Brothers, Jake (mandolin) and Joey (guitar), as they chose to prioritize their young families at home over the rigors of the road. Reflecting on their departure, Mike expressed sadness, saying, “Jake and Joey were the first musicians I called when we started the Mike Mitchell Band five years ago. We became like brothers, and they will be missed.” Despite their exit, both brothers can be seen in the upcoming video for Uncommon Man, the band’s next single from the Fathers & Sons album. Full disclosure: this writer has co-written with Mike on various tracks for the album.
The band’s fresh lineup welcomes Jacob Wright on banjo, Ethan Ratliff on guitar, and Jeff Daugherty on mandolin, complementing existing members Jared Houseman on bass and Mike Mitchell on lead vocals and fiddle. Wright, a seasoned musician, has intermittently worked with the Band over the past two years, when not busy with Larry Sparks. A product of the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Roots Music Studies program, Right’s tenure includes stints with the Kody Norris Show and the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, and a performance at the Grand Ole Opry with Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers.
Ethan Ratliff, a promising bluegrass guitarist hailing from the heart of Appalachia, expressed his gratitude for joining the Mike Mitchell Band. “Mike is a true gentleman and professional in every sense of the word. I am a big fan of not only his musicianship but his songwriting as well. I’m looking forward to savoring every moment on stage alongside Mike and this incredibly talented band.”
Jeff Daugherty, well known mandolin player and noted songwriter, recently relocated from Colorado to Nashville. Mike expressed enthusiasm about Daugherty’s addition, saying, “sometimes you just know that a person would be a good fit for the band and that you would work well together… I am really looking forward to having another songwriter in the band, and where that might lead.”
The band’s remodeled lineup made its debut at SPBGMA this year with multiple showcases, garnering positive feedback, leading to new booking connections. Their festival season kicks off in March with local performances, followed by appearances in Arizona, Ireland, and England.
Change may be a constant in bluegrass, but for the Mike Mitchell Band, it signals a promising new chapter reinvigorated with fresh talent.