Pinecastle Records new owner, Lonnie Lassiter

Pinecastle Records has posted an interview with the company’s new owner, Lonnie Lassiter, a physician and entrepreneur in Columbus, NC.

Lassiter took ownership of the company in August, six months after the family of Pinecastle founder Tom Riggs closed the doors, a move necessitated by a drastic deterioration in Riggs’ health. The doctor has other business interests outside of his practice, and uses the interview to cover his background and how he found himself heading a record label.

“I grew up listening to all kinds of music. Being from rural North Carolina, I was naturally a big fan of bluegrass and country music. I always like the 60’s and 70’s country the best. My passion for bluegrass increased in college, I really love the banjo and that traditional driving bluegrass. I started my practice in Columbus in 2000 and in 2003 I started the St. Luke’s wound care center. Tom Riggs came to me for some medical issues that he was having and we got to talking bluegrass one day. I was excited when I discovered that he owned Pinecastle. Our friendship continued and he invited me to join him in Nashville at the IBMA annual conference, as well as the MACC festival in Columbus, OH. I also attended several staff Christmas parties up on the mountain at Colonel Riggs’ cabin.  So I was a pretty close friend of Pinecastle and became an advocate for them.

I didn’t even know about the cessation of operations in February until July. I immediately picked up the phone and called Matt Hood. I knew that Tom had had some substantial medical problems but I didn’t expect the label to close. It really was all Cort Riggs could do and looking back, as painful as it was, it was the best thing to do to help any portion of the label survive. I contacted Cort who had power of attorney and we worked through a deal that was best for all parties. I cut a check and I owned it August 1st. We spent the month of August organizing and moving and began operations on September 1st.”

He also laid out his plans for Pinecastle under his management.

“First, preserve and honor the genre.

Second, be an advocate for the artists. We have put together a good benefits package for the artists on the Pinecastle label. I want to break away of the traditional model of artist-label relationships and approach our relationships with artists as partnerships. This means being advocates for each other and supporting each other.

Third, Pinecastle will be an innovative label. We are exploring and will continue to explore new ways to improve our efficiencies in operations.

Fourth, grow the overall bluegrass market. Bluegrass is such an American expression of art and the culture around Bluegrass is very family friendly. There is no reason that we as the bluegrass community cannot grow our fan base. This will take focus and effort but it is essential in maintaining a robust Bluegrass industry. We are starting Pass The Grass not just as a slogan but as a vehicle to grow our market. Stay tuned for some really neat things that we are going to be doing with Pass The Grass.

By the way, everybody Pass the Grass!”

The full interview can be read online.

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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.