Sing Bluegrass & Gospel
Few people outside Surrey county, North Carolina and Grayson and Stuart counties, Virginia, will recognize the Country Boys bluegrass band. At the same time, thousands of folks who live in these counties and the surrounding area over a 50 mile radius well know and revere this talented group. Their music, leaning heavily toward the gospel side of bluegrass, has kept lovers of good traditional music following them for over 35 years. I first encountered the Country Boys at the Independence (county seat of Grayson County, Virginia) Fiddlers Convention in 1972. I had just arrived at the site and was walking around near the stage, when this band came walking in in a "business-like" fashion. They stopped at an uncrowded area, removed their instruments from cases, and launched into an hour or so session prior to entering the contest. I was mesmerized. Although I had been following old -time/mountain/bluegrass music all my life, I had done this mostly through recordings and radio. I had not seen a great number of bands live, at least bands at the local level. This is not to say that I was not acquainted with the pioneer professional bands up to that time. I had been present at personal performances by Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs and other top name bands of the 50s-60s-70s. I couldn't get enough of the Country Boys playing/singing in those early years - still can't. Their performances made my scalp crawl (this physical feeling is a sizeable cut above "making the hair stand up on the back of your neck.") Their music still does this to me, 34 years and several bandmember changes later. The original band consisted of Donald Clifton (the only remaining founding member) on guitar, Joe Edd King (James King's uncle, who had a unique style encompassing elements of both old time and bluegrass) on fiddle, David Hiatt (one of the 2 or 3 best banjo pickers I've ever heard) on banjo, Ronnie Lyons on mandolin, and Wayne Creed (Donald's uncle) on upright bass. All members other than Wayne contributed singing parts. The current band consists of: Donald Clifton - upright bass Johnny Joyce - guitar Tim Bowman - banjo J. A. Midkiff - fiddle Kevin Easter - mandolin Over the years, a great number of pickers have played a show, or a few shows, as a member of the band . Those who have been bona fide bandmembers, playing with the group regularly for months or years, are: Mike Hazlewood - mandolin Sammy Shelor - banjo Hersie McMillian - banjo Tim Smith - fiddle Wesley Easter - banjo The band has played fiddlers conventions (contests), festivals, churches, private parties, and on my front porch, for the past 33 years. I have looked on, in awe, and I think maybe in a fatherly fashion, as this band has entertained people from all over the world at the various venues they have played. This recording was not planned as a commercial venture. I simply felt that the Country Boys sound needed to be documented, on record, for the ages. Over the 60 some years that I have been deeply involved in bluegrass music, I have received more pleasure from listening to, and having personal relationships with, the members of this band than any person could hope for. The Country Boys, to me, define the true essence of Bluegrass and Bluegrass Gospel music. Kerry Hay Hay Holler Records January 2006.