On This Day #24 – Big Country Bluegrass

On This Day ………..

Big Country BluegrassOn January 7, 1987, Big Country Bluegrass, based in Troutdale, Virginia, was formed.

The ultra-traditional band was named after the Jimmy Martin instrumental Big Country, a tune that he recorded with J. D. Crowe on November 22, 1966. The tune was the first recorded by Big Country Bluegrass in 1989.

Leader and mandolin player in the band, Tommy Sells remembers …………

“January 7, 1987 was when we decided to form a band and try to get some bookings. When the late Larry Pennington said he would play banjo with us – that was what we needed to hear. Larry was quite an accomplished player, and played with us for the next fifteen years. The other original members, in addition to myself and my wife Teresa, were Charles Delp, Freel Taylor and Wade Petty.

Our first show as at a local venue, the Troutdale Fire Department, where we held winter shows for the next 17 years.

Our first bluegrass festival appearance was in July 1988 at the Mountain Man Bluegrass Festival in Cana, Virginia. Also at the festival were Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, the Johnson Mountain Boys, the Boys From Indiana, the New Grass Revival and James King, in addition to our group. That festival still stands out as one of our favorite memories.”

The current line-up is Tommy Sells (mandolin / vocals), Teresa Sells (rhythm guitar / vocals), Eddie Gill (guitar / lead vocals), Lynwood Lunsford (banjo / vocals), Tony King (bass) and Tim Laughlin (fiddle / mandolin / vocals).

Former members include noted singers James King and Johnny Williams.



  • 1st Time Around (Heritage, 1989)
  • 2nd Time Around (Heritage, 1991)
  • 3rd Time Around (Heritage, 1992)
  • 4th Time Around (Heartland, 1995)
  • Big Country Bluegrass (Hay Holler, 1997)
  • Up In the High Country (Hay Holler, 1998)
  • Life’s Highway (Hay Holler, 1999)
  • Tomorrow I’ll Be Gone (Hay Holler, 2000)
  • My Old Virginia Home (Hay Holler, 2001)
  • The Real Deal (Hay Holler, 2002)
  • Gospel Time (Hay Holler, 2003)
  • Waiting At the Homeplace (Hay Holler, 2004)
  • On Fire (Hay Holler, 2006)
  • Twenty Years of Grass (Hay Holler, 2007)
  • Open For Business (Mountain Roads, 2008)
  • The Boys in Hats and Ties (Rebel, 2010)
  • Memories of the Past (Rebel, 2013)

Share this:

About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.