A major page in 21st century bluegrass is set to turn at the end of this year, with The Boxcars shutting it down and disbanding after this fall touring season. Since 2010 the band has set a standard for excellence rarely seen in our music, with 4 critically-acclaimed recordings to document their work.
Not only have they introduced a number of new songs to the bluegrass catalog, written within the band, they have developed the reputation as perhaps the most iconic exemplars of the music of Flatt & Scruggs since the Bluegrass Album Band. The band was founded with Ron Stewart on banjo, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Keith Garrett on guitar, John Bowman on fiddle, and Harold Nixon on bass, experienced professionals and in-demand session players every one. When Bowman left to dedicate more time to his ministry efforts, Gary Hultman was brought in playing reso-guitar and singing tenor.
But as time has progressed, the rigors of regular travel and the call of family, home, and other professional duties have taken their toll, and the guys have decided to let go of The Boxcars to focus energies elsewhere. Both Keith and Adam are full-time educators during the school year, and Ron and Harold are busy session players with their own studios. Gary is a newlywed with a banjo pickin’ bride awaiting him at home.
Steffey says that there is no ill will among the members, and that they leave the best of friends as they express their gratitude for all the support during their time together.
“We all want to thank the fans, the folks in radio, the promoters and venues that have been so kind as to allow us to perform, our record label Mountain Home for always being so very supportive of our group, John Bowman for his time here, and our present booking agent Jim Roe as well as our previous agent Mike Drudge for all of their hard work on our behalf. We all remain good friends and don’t want anyone to feel that we part on bad terms. After 8 seasons of travel and performing together it just seems like it’s time to pursue other musical avenues and ideas.”
There is no doubt that we will be seeing all these guys popping up with other groups in the future, and we should all be thankful for the opportunity to see them together during The Boxcars’ run. Perhaps especially for watching Stewart and Steffey side-by-side on stage, their mutual admiration for each other’s musicianship providing plenty of special moments as they try to one-up the other, or make the other one laugh.
They have a few more dates left to play in 2017, so get out and see them while you can!
Thanks and congratulations to The Boxcars, for all the music and the fun. You’ve done the music proud.