UPDATE 12/2/2006: It seems the original reporting on this was correct and Grasstowne is the name the new band will be using.
Dobro master Phil Leadbetter announced earlier this week that he would be leaving Wildfire to pursue other ventures. At the time he promised an announcement on Dec 1st as to his future plans and we have that announcement as promised.
After nearly 6 years with Wildfire, a band he helped form after leaving J.D. Crowe, Phil is starting a new band. To use a baseball analogy we’ve previously engaged here on Bluegrass Today, one might say that the bluegrass trading/signing season has begun with the creation of this new band.
Guitarist/Vocalist Steve Gulley has announced that he will be joining Phil in the new band and thus departing from his gig with Mountain Heart. Steve earned a reputation for his soaring tenor voice while performing on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance in Renfro, KY. After that Steve attended the Doyle Lawson School of Bluegrass where he met future Mountain Heart band mates Barry Abernathy and Jim Van Cleve. In 1998 Gulley, Van Cleve, and Abernathy were joined by Adam Steffey and bass player Johnny Dowdle to form the group Mountain Heart. In addition to the impact that band has had on the bluegrass world, Gulley has also contributed his unique vocal abilities to numerous other recordings in the last 10 years.
In another major departure, Alan Bibey will be leaving BlueRidge, the band he has lead for many years, to join Phil and Steve in this new undertaking. Alan has been a founding member of a number of celebrated bluegrass bands including the New Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out, and BlueRidge. Known as one of the most gifted mandolin players of his generation, Alan brings a wealth of musical knowledge and background to the new band. It is our understanding that BlueRidge will fulfill their currently contracted dates and no more.
These three players are coming together to form what is sure to be a major league band with a great sound. Word has not yet been released as to who will fill the bass and banjo roles in the new band, but we expect an announcement on that very soon. This is bound to be some great music and we’ll look forward to hearing what this band produces.
The three have decided on the name Grasstowne and are currently accepting bookings for the 2007 season.
UPDATE 9:56 AM: It seems the guys are still debating on a name so for now they ask that you visit them online at their Myspace page.