The Next Best Thing

Next Best Thing - Tensel Sandker, Karen McNees, Sally SandkerIs there a more powerful name than Vincent in the bluegrass world right now?

Rhonda V. is topping the charts and maintaining a brutal touring schedule, while her brother Darrin supplies the requisite Vincent in the new powerhouse act, Dailey & Vincent.

Next Best Thing may not officially share the family name, but they surely have plenty of the genetic material needed to join the family tradition. This new trio is made up of Rhonda’s two daughters, Sally and Tensel Sandker, along with Karen McNees.

Sally (22) and Tensel (20) have been around bluegrass music all their lives – even before they were born – and sang with their family on occasion, but had never considered a career in music. In fact, Sally spent her high school years focused on basketball while Tensel pondered medical school.

After graduation and a bit of college, the girls transfered to East Tennessee State University where they enrolled in the bluegrass music program. There they met banjo picker Karen McNees, and with Sally on guitar and vocals, and Tensel on bass and vocals, the trio was born.

The ETSU program has honed their skills as performers and when the Tensels headed back to Missouri for the annual Sally Mountain Festival in 2007, they invited Karen to tag along. This event has been produced by their grandparents since 1986, and they had attended since they were youngsters – just like their mom and uncle before them.

While at the festival, a last minute opening in the schedule brought them to the stage, and the three of them came up with the name as they were preparing to go on. The crowd reaction was such that a return engagement in ’08 was required and the 6th generation of the musical Vincent family is now in the business.

Their self-titled debut CD has recently been released, and can be purchased from the official Rhonda Vincent online store. Audio samples are up on the girls’ MySpace page.

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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.