Rich In Tradition shows its Pedigree

July 2010 is a eventful month for the Galyean family of Virginia.

In the first instance it is tinged with much sadness at the passing of Cullen Galyean. Secondly, on a much brighter note, it marks the release of the album Black Mountain Special (Mountain Roads Recordings) by Rich In Tradition, a quintet led by Cullen’s son, Mickey Galyean.

In addition to Mickey (guitar, lead and tenor vocals), Rich In Tradition consists of Greg Jones (mandolin, lead and tenor vocals), Tim Martin (fiddle, finger-picked guitar and lead vocals), Jay Adams (banjo, baritone and bass vocals) and Brad Hiatt (bass, lead and tenor vocals). They got together in 2006 and cut their musical teeth playing throughout northwest North Carolina and southwest Virginia, forging a band that maintains the strong traditions for traditional bluegrass and gospel music that prevail in that region.

Mickey Galyean was born in Low Gap, North Carolina. He started playing music when he was 13 years old. His father gave Mickey an old Gibson F-4 mandolin and he switched to playing bluegrass from rock and has never looked back since. Greg Jones was born in the heart of the bluegrass and old time haven, Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Growing up with a family of musicians and singers made it a lot easier to get the picking bug. At the age of 15 he started to play the mandolin, learning everything from Bill Monroe to David Grisman and Ricky Skaggs. He joined Cullen Galyean and his band, The Bluegrassers, in 2004.

Tim Martin was born in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1958 and began learning to play the mandolin at the age of seven. At the age of ten he moved on to playing the banjo, before turning to his true love, the fiddle, when he was 15. Martin’s first professional job was with Jim Eanes, whom he joined at the age of 13. He makes his home in Collinsville, Virginia. From Pine Hall, North Carolina, Jay Adams’ first influences in bluegrass music were Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Monroe, Reno & Smiley and all the pioneers of the music. Around the age of 16, Adams began playing banjo, a Gibson RB-250, which he acquired while in high school. His main influences on the banjo include Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe, Gene Parker and Craig Smith. His current favourite is Jim Mills. Brad Hiatt, from Ararat, Virginia, began playing the banjo at the age of nine. At ten-years old, he was fortunate enough to play on stage with Grandpa Jones. He went on to learn how to play the electric guitar and acoustic bass, honing his skills on that instrument while playing with The Marshall Brothers band and Spur of the Moment.

The band’s first release for Mountain Roads Recordings features great old favorites not heard in a long time, such as (The Old) Swinging Bridge and the title track, penned by Cullen Galyean, and strong original songs like Now I’m Losing You, Lost, Heartbroke and Lonesome, Weather’s Got To Change, Only One You’re Calling Baby and the instrumental Prillaman’s Switch. Alongside these are three Gospel numbers; I’ve Just Seen The Rock Of Ages, Preachin’, Prayin’ Singin’ and Let’s All Go Down To the River.

Black Mountain Special will be released on July 27. It is currently available to radio stations around the world in electronic format through AirPlay Direct.

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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.