If you look back over the years of music you will see these magical moments when a group of musicians get together and a chemistry happens that defies all logic. When this happens you get some of the greatest music and performances that will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come. This newest lineup for Mountain Heart just may be one of those special moments in time when we get to experience something truly special.
I discovered them when I noticed a Facebook post that said Molly Cherryholmes had joined the group. Now I am a huge fan of Molly and her whole family. As the family band Cherryholmes, they were an amazing group of talented musicians that rocked the Bluegrass scene. Now I new if Molly had joined the group they would have to be a class act for her to get involved. Now the really cool part of discovering them for the first time is it was by watching them in a video performing (drum roll please) The Tennessee Waltz. Dad wrote that song in 1946 an here we are in 2015 and even the young ones are playing it. I guess they know a good song when they hear one.
After watching the video I had to find out more about the band. Seems Mountain Heart has gone through a lot of changes since it’s start in 1999. The band was formed by Barry Abernathy, Steve Gulley, Adam Steffey, and Jim VanCleve. Through the years members changed with people being added and others leaving for other projects then coming back. The only two that were consistent was Barry Abernathy And Jim VanCleve. In January 2007, Josh Shilling debuted with the band at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, and was announced as the group's new lead singer. In September of that year, Jones was replaced by Grammy Award winning guitarist, Clay Hess. In December 2007, mandolinist Aaron Ramsey replaced Steffey, making his debut also on the stage of The Grand Ole Opry. The band made some more changes and has ended up with the present lineup.
Here is my run down on the present members and their music
Josh Shilling: lead vocalist, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar , Hammond B3 Organ,
and piano player.
This guy has a set of pipes that you will not believe. His voice has power and some grit when he needs it and from what I have heard so far he can sing anything an keep you hanging on his every word. He is a very accomplished guitar player but his best instrument is the keys be it piano or an organ. The first song on the top video to your right starts with a live version of “One More For The Road” that showcases his voice in a great way so check it out.
Aaron Ramsey: upright bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, dobro, and vocals.
What a ball of fire this guy is. I’ve seen a lot of mandolin players but this guy has got to be one of the best and he is just getting started. He can also smoke up the room with every other instrument he plays. His energy on stage is captivating and his much deeper voice really adds a lot to the band. This guy puts the T in talented.
Seth Taylor: Guitars.
There are a lot of great Blue Grass guitar players out there but very few that are this good at this age. Not only is he amazing on the guitar but his knowledge of theory is obvious as he flows through the many different styles of music that Mountain Heart plays. He seems to be at home with what ever you throw at him. It will be interesting to see what he will be like in 5 years.
Jeff Partin: guitar, mandolin, banjo, dobro and bass.
It seems like the trend in this band is musicians that play multiple instruments and Jeff is no exception. So far I have seen him play upright bass and the dobro both done with great skill. He is another great voice added to the rest of the great voices in the band which makes for some great harmonies which you will hear on the video “Maggie’s Farm”. He is a great addition to the group.
Molly Cherryholmes: fiddle, keyboards, and vocals.
Don’t let this pretty little girl fool you because she is no little girl. Put a fiddle and a bow in her hand and within a very short period of time you are likely to see fire coming off of those strings. She is a seasoned pro from her families band Cherryholmes. She is just as comfortable on the keyboards and can play other instruments as well. Another amazing talent she has are her vocals. She has a sound all her own. No cookie cutter vocals here. And amazing addition to the band to really round out the group.
Their music is ear candy for sure and their first CD together is due out soon. So check them out and if you like what you hear give them your support and buy their music and don’t forget to tell your friends.
Billy Rae Stewart