Pond Mountain Breakaway from Tray Wellington

Mountain Home Music has released a debut single from their first album with young banjo picker Tray Wellington. A 2021 graduate of the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University, Tray is poised to launch a career as both a composer and performer on the five string.

Tray grew up in western North Carolina, and first came to prominence as a member of Cane Mill Road, starting when he was still in high school. While studying at ETSU, he showcased with the band at World of Bluegrass, and was named a Momentum Award recipient by the IBMA in 2019. Clearly we’re not the only ones who have had an eye on this young man over recent years.

Wellington had released a self-produced solo EP last year called Uncaged Thoughts, and now that he has signed with Mountain Home, is working with producer Jon Weisberger on his first full-length album.

This initial single is one he wrote, Pond Mountain Breakaway, which Tray tells us came to him while doing his schoolwork at ETSU.

“The song derived off of a riff I wrote on electric guitar for a school assignment. After that was finished, I decided that I wanted to adapt it to a bluegrass-esque feel.”

Then when getting ready to record this track, an incident on the way to the studio brought the title forward.

“I got to the session late because my car broke down on the way, and while I was trying to think of a name for the tune during the actual recording session, Wayne Benson asked me, ‘Where did you break down?’ I replied, ‘A place called Pond Mountain,’ and he said, ‘Call it Pond Mountain Breakdown.’ I thought that was a great idea, but as I was thinking about it later, I realized that I don’t get a full breakdown vibe from this tune — and when I thought that a little variation in bluegrass titles wouldn’t be a bad thing, I decided to make a slight change to Pond Mountain Breakaway.”

Supporting Tray here are Wayne Benson on mandolin, Jon Stickley on guitar, Lyndsay Pruett on fiddle, and Kevin Kehrberg on bass.

Pond Mountain Breakaway is available now wherever you stream or download music online. Radio programmers will find the track at AirPlay Direct.

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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.