Billy Blue Records artists the Tennessee Bluegrass Band have announced two new members of the group, Geary Allen and Anissa Burnett, both experienced touring musicians in their own right at a very young age. They have been working with the Band this past few weeks, and have made a seamless transition into what has become a trademark sound for the group, a respectful continuation of traditional bluegrass, with both new and vintage music.
Like many bluegrass guitarists, Geary learned his trade playing with his family band, but not on the southeastern US circuit, with The Allen Family based in Margate, England. After a chance jam hooked him up with TBB, he’s made the move to the States and a new career in music.
Banjo picker Lincoln Hensley explained how it all happened.
“I first met Geary this year at the SPBGMA convention in Nashville, TN. We ended up jamming a while on some of our favorite old bluegrass standards, and it was obvious from the word ‘go’ how easy it was for our styles to blend with each other. I asked him if he was looking for any work at the time, because our previous guitar player and lead singer had given his notice, and he said he’d like to work with a professional touring band. The one catch was that he lived in England.
I told Geary and his dad, ‘Well, Geary, if you wanna pick berries, you gotta go where the bushes are!’ Geary flew back later to the states to audition and try out for a few weekends, and we offered him the position. He’s moved over here now close to us and is constantly singing, playing, and writing music all throughout the day. It’s nice to have such a creative force in the band.
We’ve finally assembled a band where all of the members live within 20 minutes of each other. This will allow us to get in a lot more writing sessions and rehearsals. Come see the new lineup when we’re in your area. I believe you’ll like what you hear!”
Needless to say, Allen is over the moon with his good fortune.
“I’m thrilled to be joining this group of excellent musicians whom I believe represent some of the finest talent in bluegrass music today. We share a love for bluegrass music played in a traditional way, as well as the ambition to create original material that, whilst paying its respects to the founders of the genre, is exciting and new. I am very excited to play and hear all of the music we will create together in the future.”
Anissa Burnett also comes from the family band tradition. She and her sisters have performed together for several years, starting when Anissa was quite young. In addition to her work with The Burnett Sisters, she excelled during her time as a student in the Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Roots Music program at ETSU, from which she is a recent graduate. In school she was a member of both the ETSU Old-Time Ramblers and the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, and was given the Outstanding Student Award in Appalachian Studies during her time there.
Lincoln’s fellow founding member, fiddler Aynsley Porchak, says they thought of Burnett right away when they had a spot to fill.
“Lincoln and I both knew Anissa from our time at East Tennessee State University. Anissa and I are currently colleagues at ETSU. When the bass position became available, it made perfect sense to contact her, and I am so glad she accepted! Anissa is a great singer and bass player, and brings a great stage presence and work ethic (plus lots of enthusiasm) to the band! I can’t wait for our fans to see Anissa and Geary on stage with us.”
Anissa is likewise psyched to join TBB.
“What an honor it is to get to share the stage with some of the most talented musicians in the business! I have a huge appreciation for groups that truly care about tradition, and pay attention to the little details, and The Tennessee Bluegrass Band does just that. From top charting releases to classic, memorable stage attire, and exciting stage performance, it’s clear that this band has an incredibly positive future – one that I’m thrilled and grateful to be a part of!”
You can find the Tennessee Bluegrass Band, which is completed by veteran mandolinist Tim Laughlin, touring in support of their debut album, The Future of the Past, throughout this year and next. Their full schedule is posted online.