Sleepy Man Banjo Boys in the studio

The now world-famous Sleepy Man Banjo Boys have been in the studio of late, recording an album of traditional bluegrass instrumental music. The timing of this long-planned venture coincides perfectly with their sudden popularity. A number of appearances on national television have seem them go from YouTube wonders to an entertainment sensation in just a few months time.

Since appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman and twice on Huckabee, they have named as official Martin Guitar Ambassadors, and are scheduled to perform on The Today Show on August 31.

The pickin’ Mizzone boys have been working in Nashville – far from their home in New Jersey – at Scott Vestal’s Digital Underground studio. Jonny on banjo, Robbie on fiddle and Tommy on guitar were assisted by Mike Bub and Missy Raines on bass, and Mike Compton on mandolin, with Barbara Lamb producing. Their uncle Chris Mizzone, who first alerted us to the boys’ prodigious abilities last year, also guests on resonator guitar.

Proud papa Tom Mizzone tells us that he and the boys, along with their mom and three younger siblings, all made the trip and are staying in a log home in nearby Ashland City for the duration.

“The boys don’t want to disclose the songs yet but 9 year old Jonny is promising one of the fastest Flint Hill Specials you’ll ever get your hands on! Only the boys will be performing lead breaks, with help from Mike, Missy and Mike as the rhythm section.

On Monday we visited Huber Banjos – Jonny is recording with a Huber Vintage VRB-75 Truetone. This banjo really captures that prewar vintage J.D. Crowe type sound Jonny has been after. He’s also using a Stanleytone archtop for an appropriate Stanley Brothers Song.”

Tom also sent along some video from the studio showing these young pros at work – and jamming out with the Nashville superpickers.

Here are a few more photos dad shot this week…

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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.