Sally Sandker accepts position with US Navy Band Country Current

Sally Sandker has announced today that she has accepted an E-6 position in the US Navy to take the guitar/vocal spot in County Current. The group is the only one dedicated to bluegrass music in the US Navy band system.

A graduate of the Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program at ETSU, Sally is the daughter of Rhonda Vincent, and performed with her as a member of The Rage for several years. More recently, she has played guitar and sung with the Little Roy & Lizzie Show. 

Sandker will report for boot camp in mid-May, after which she will begin working into Country Current, based in Washington, DC. This position is for someone who can sing both bluegrass and country music, which won’t be an issue for Sally. She had released an album of bluegrass, country, and Gospel music called God Is In Control, as Sally Lea Sandker in 2019.

When we caught up with her this evening, Sally was just back from a celebration dinner, having gotten her final medical clearance today. She told us that this has been a goal of hers for some time.

“I am very excited about this! This is something I’ve been working towards for a couple of years. I was supposed to audition in 2020, but the pandemic shut it down. I auditioned again last year but they ended up not hiring anyone.

I’ve lost 50 pounds getting ready, going to a plant based diet.

It’s a true blessing to be able to have a stable music career. I think COVID showed us all how difficult can be. My mom was sitting home just like everyone else when the pandemic hit.

This is a great way to represent the men and women who are out on the ships, defending our country. It truly is a special honor.”

Sandker will become the fourth ETSU grad in Country Current, as Caleb Cox, former guitarist and singer with Nothin’ Fancy, is going in with her. Also in the band now are Haley Stiltner on banjo and Henry Johns on pedal steel and bass, both veterans of the bluegrass program in Johnson City.

Sally says that she is excited to start working on singing with Caleb.

“It will be fun to work with another lead singer. We’ve already talked about working up some of the great Johnny and June or Conway and Loretta duets.

Caleb and I will be in basic training together in May.”

At this point, she is hoping to make the Navy Band her career, and spend the 20 years in the service to earn a military pension.

Caleb and Sally are replacing Kenny Ray Horton who has recently retired from the band. He is continuing his music career now as a civilian.

US Navy Band Country Current is lead by Chief Tina Catalanatto, who plays drums on the county side, and Chief Joe Friedman, who plays lead guitar. Also in the group is Patrick MacAvinue on fiddle, another bluegrass veteran who worked with Audie Blaylock, Charm City Junction, and Dailey & Vincent before joining the Navy.

Congratulations Sally and Caleb!

Share this:

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.