North Carolina teens making things happen as Cane Mill Road

Bluegrass has long supported talented teen musicians, usually in the family band format. There is something comforting and appealing about seeing mom, dad, and the kids out on stage, often in matching outfits, playing and singing together. Plus you feel a bit better about youngsters braving the road life as a family unit than on their own.

Less often a group of teens emerge who came to the music on their own, and put together a band based primarily on their shared love of bluegrass. When they also display a proficiency on their instruments, and can sing at a professional level, it is an exciting thing to witness. Add to that a certain flair as performers, and a busy schedule appearing at major festivals, and you have Cane Mill Road.

The two talented young men who founded the band grew up and learned the music in the literal shadow of the great Doc Watson in Deep Gap, NC. 15 year old Liam Purcell plays mandolin and fiddle, and learned to play in the Junior Appalachian Musicians program in North Carolina. His own home is less than a mile from where Doc lived. Tray Wellington grew up about 10 miles away in Jefferson, and at 18 is studying banjo and bluegrass in Johnson City, TN at ETSU.

A pair of 20-year-olds fills out the group, Eliot Smith from Boone on bass, and Casey Lewis from Rocky Gap, VA on guitar. Their debut album, Five Speed, was strong enough to earn them a spot as an invited showcase act at the 2017 World of Bluegrass convention in Raleigh, and they have 80 dates booked for 2018 including MerleFest and the Bluegrass & BBQ festival at Silver Dollar City.

While they try to keep close to a traditional bluegrass sound, Cane Mill Road also incorporates songs from outside bluegrass, and are starting to work on more of their own original material.

You can learn more about the group in this crowdfunding video they created for an Indiegogo campaign to help finance a new album they hope to start in January.

Pre-orders for the next project can be place through Indiegogo.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.