Marc Pruett, the grandfatherly banjo player with Balsam Range, known for his big smile and bigger tone, has published his memoirs. Titled Rascally Mountain Boy, the book details his lengthy musical career and shares a series of personal stories, along with a collection of song lyrics he has written.
This memoir has been the effort of many years, only recently completed after Marc retired from his day job as an erosion control officer with the Haywood County North Carolina Health Department. But he says that he had been chipping away at these stories for many years, retelling his lifelong fascination with the banjo and the music of Earl Scruggs, and his deep love of the culture and landscapes of western North Carolina and the Appalachian region.
For many years as a young man, Pruett was a staple entertainer at Bill Stanley’s Barbecue in Asheville during its hey day in the 1970s and ’80s. After graduating from college with a degree in geology, Marc also operated a music store in Asheville for a dozen years or so, performing evenings at the restaurant with his Marc Pruett Band and teaching as many as 90 banjo students each week.
It was during this era that he was part of one of the greatest bands that never was. When Boone Creek was forming in the late ’70s, Marc was to have been the banjo player, with Ricky Skaggs on mandolin, Terry Baucom on fiddle, Wes Golding on guitar, Jerry Douglas on reso-guitar, and Steve Bryant on bass. But when it got to crunch time, the music store responsibilities seemed too much for Pruett to leave unattended, and he pulled away with Baucom moving to banjo. What a group that would have been!
He has told interviewers that he purposely kept a lighthearted tone in these many stories, including a few tall tales of his own.
Balsam Range and Marc Pruett fans will certainly want a copy of Rascally Mountain Boy, which is available from the band web site for $24.95.