A Sassagrass Reunion

Article Published: Jul. 10 | Modified: Jul. 13
A Sassagrass Reunion

Mark Schimick will perform at this weekend's Doc & Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest 'n Sugar Grove.

Photo submitted

Mark Schimick and Billy Constable have been leaving a trail for others to follow in Western North Carolina for more than 15 years.

Their paths have converged on stages up and down the East Coast since 1997, and they are still treating audiences to authentic bluegrass and more.

Their first band, Sassagrass, played numerous bluegrass shows in the late 1990s, with jam band luminaries, such as Merl Saunders, Max Creek and Donna the Buffalo, throughout the northeastern states.

On July 12, Sassagrass will be reformed to play two shows in the High Country. First, at 1:30 p.m. at the Doc & Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest ’n Sugar Grove, and then at 11 p.m. at Murphy’s Restaurant & Pub in downtown Boone.

Schimick and company call this an occasion to remember, as the band gets back together on occasions to remind people, and themselves, of how well they can play bluegrass music and easily incorporate outside influences into their chosen genre of music. The band members for this reunion are Constable on banjo and guitar, Schimick on mandolin and guitar, Ryan Eversole on fiddle and Greg Howell on upright bass.

Schimick, nationally renowned as the long-time mandolin player for Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, has been touring nonstop since 1998. Originally from Chicago, he also grew up in Western North Carolina and learned to love bluegrass and old-time at an early age. Since his days learning the road with Sassagrass in the late 1990s, the multi-instrumentalist has become one of the most versatile and fiery pickers on the acoustic music scene.

Over the years, he has shared the stage with other musical legends, including Sam Bush, Ike Stubblefield, David Grisman and Col. Bruce Hampton. He has also been in the same band with Tony Rice, Vassar Clements and Jim Lauderdale. His second solo release, “Ain’t No Records Spinning,” featuring Larry Keel, was honored in the top 25 releases of bluegrass music by award-winning radio station WNCW of Spindale.

Last year has seen Schimick as a drummer and lead singer of a new rock ’n’ roll band, Mud Tea, which has a debut CD out now, called “A Live Intro ‘Duction.”

Constable grew up in a musical family, The Wisemans, in Avery County and has been playing music all his life. This family includes the famous duo from the 1930s and ’40s, Scotty and LuLu Belle, “America’s Sweethearts.”

Constable’s career started as a young teen under his stepfather, bluegrass legend Charlie Moore. He was a member of the Doug Dillard Band at the age of 17 in the late 1970s, and his family band, The Constables, played club dates and festivals in Southern California during the 1980s. He also toured extensively with Kenny Baker and Josh Graves of Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs fame, respectively.

Constable’s approach to banjo is firmly rooted in Appalachian string music, but can be deceptively eclectic, as is shown in his latest guitar-stylings rooted in the music of Django Reinhardt. It’s this inclusive approach to music that has found him favor and praise within the jam band and jamgrass world over the last 20 years. Thus, he has toured with Leftover Salmon, Larry Keel Experience, String Cheese Incident and Max Creek, and also appears on String Cheese’s live release, “Carnival ’99.”

Schimick and Constable are prominently featured on a brand new album self-released by Sassagrass’ Eversole. This CD will be available at both shows. It has classic and original material heavily influenced by the first generation of bluegrass, a sound Mark and Billy are known for possessing.

For more information, visit http://www.facebook.com/markschimickmusic.

Additional Images

Mark Schimick will perform at this weekend's Doc & Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest 'n Sugar Grove.
Photo submitted

From left, Mark Schimick and Billy Constable are reforming the band, Sassagrass, for a two-stop reunion tour in the High Country.
Photo submitted

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