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Goin' To Rocky Island

PRODUCED BY Old Homestead Records, 1984.

The Blue Ridge Mountain Grass was formed by Bill Wells, the band’s organizer and Financial Manager, in 1975. At the time of this recording, The Blue Ridge Mountain Grass consisted of Bill Wells, Virgil Harrison, Andy Cartoun, John Cheney, and Wilma Houston.

Bill Wells - rhythm guitar & lead vocals. Born in Cromona, Kentucky, Wells and his family moved to Norton, Virginia, when Bill was six months old. At the age of twelve, they moved again to Hiltons near Bristol, Virginia. Wells grew up singing with his family without musical instruments in most of the area churches.

Virgil Harrison – fiddle. Born and raised in Jackson, Kentucky, he first started playing fiddle at the age of nineteen. He got his first homemade fiddle in 1962. Harrison has a unique style of mountain fiddling, and in 1963 he won first place in a fiddle contest at Irving Fairgrounds in Estel County, Kentucky. In 1977 he won the open Old Time Fiddlers Contest at the Wisconsin State Fair, and he appeared in his first festival at Bean Blossom, Indiana, where he met Bill Wells in 1975.

Andy Cartoun - 5 string banjo. Originally from Pennsylvania, Andy started picking banjo at the age of thirteen. Since then he has appeared at festivals and performed with several different bands. His first public appearance was at the age of 18 in a banjo contest in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he won second place. He was formerly with the Coon Skin Boys in Smithville, Tennessee.

John Cheney - lead guitar. Cheney was born and raised in Pontotoc, Mississippi. John first started playing the guitar at age sixteen, and he also plays the Dobro (a resonator guitar), mandolin, and bass. John joined the group in 1976.

Wilma Houston - bass. Houston was born and raised in Pike County, Kentucky. Her father had a Bluegrass band called Red Anderson and the Sandy Vally Boys, so Houston grew up with bluegrass music. She worked with a group called the Cumberland Mountain Gang prior to joining the Blue Ridge Mountain Grass.*

*Adapted from the liner notes for the album “Goin’ to Rocky Island” (1979)

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