Buddy Melton


Buddy Melton

Like his bandmates, Buddy also grew up in Haywood County. From an early age, Buddy enjoyed music; but, it wasn’t until college at Western Carolina University that he buckled down and “got serious” about bluegrass music. Buddy has been very fortunate in the musical opportunities given to him. He played regionally with the gospel bluegrass group Rock Springs Reunion which landed a song in the top ten gospel bluegrass charts. After leaving RSR, he settled into a Nashville based band, Jubal Foster, which played the Southeastern United States. Buddy has recorded and shared the stage with many artists such as Sam Bush, Rhonda Vincent, Porter Wagner, Jon Randall and more. Recently, Buddy released his first solo bluegrass project which features Tony Rice, Adam Steffey, and bandmates Tim Surrett and Marc Pruett.

I have several fiddles that I play. Currently I am playing a wonderful 1903 John Juzek violin. It is funny how instruments come along. Often the good ones find you when you are not looking. Such is the story of this instrument. We were playing an event for our friends Clark and Leatherwood. I saw a fiddle case in Larry Clark’s office and asked about it. As is turned out the violin belonged to a lady who had passed away at the age of 85. She was the last of her family with no living descendants. Her estate was to be sold and proceeds given to charity. She was a classically trained violinist and her family was originally from the Pennsylvania area. Her father had bought the violin for her. I was fortunate to be able to purchase the violin. Danny Bishop with Bishop Violin Shop set it up and made some repairs for me.

I also have a nice Magini model violin that has a great deep tone. I recorded the whole Marching Home CD with it. I restrung the fiddle like a viola and played it on several songs. It is a great instrument! It came from Danny Bishop’s shop and was voiced by Bob Bragg out of Florida. Danny has voiced and repaired many instruments for me over the years and is in my opinion the best around. Contact Danny at Bishop’s Violin Shop 828-628-1688.

I have a 1940 Kay M-1 bass that I play from time to time. I bought it off ebay. It came out of upstate NY with the neck broken and Danny Bishop brought it to life.

I use D’Addario strings exclusively on my fiddle.  D’Addario strings are consistently great. They produce great tone and have wonderful longevity.

I must also thank the folks at Strains Of Music in Waynesville NC. They are the best to work with and if they don’t have what you need, they will get it.

Visit www.BuddyMelton.com to learn more about Buddy and his solo CD projects.

In 2014 & 2018, Buddy was voted as the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year.

Caleb Smith


Caleb Smith

Caleb Smith was born and has spent all his life in Haywood County. Coming from a musical family, Caleb began playing music at the age of 7. In 2002 he was influential in starting the bluegrass gospel band Harvest. With Harvest, Caleb traveled all over the eastern U.S. performing at many different venues with artists such as Doyle Lawson, Larry Sparks, Paul Williams, and many more. In the spring of 2006 Caleb was nominated through Power Grass Music Awards for male vocalist of the year and guitar player of the year of which he won both titles. Caleb, also being a song writer, has had 3 songs to make the Singing News charts. The latest making it to #48. Caleb feels very blessed of God to have had such a great musical life this far and is looking forward to seeing lots of great things happen with Balsam Range.

Caleb plays guitars that he makes. You will regularly see him with #007. It was made for a friend who told Caleb to play it anytime. It is a Dreadnaught style guitar made from Brazilian Rosewood and Red Spruce, a wonderful sounding guitar. You might see him occasionally play #10 as well. It’s a OM style made of Brazilian Rosewood and Red Spruce that Caleb built for his Dad….he has to sneak it out from his Dads study from time to time. It’s a great sounding guitar!!!! You might even see him play his old Martin every now and again….so be on the lookout for “Pete”…….

Caleb recently built 2 special guitars….a D-28 Deluxe for Zac Brown and a Wartime D-28 for super picker Bryan Sutton!!!!

Caleb uses GHS Phosphor Bronze Medium Gauge (ghsstrings.com) guitar strings on all guitars. He also uses BlueChip picks (bluechippick.net) made by Matthew Goins in Knoxville, TN.


  • GHS Strings

  • Blue Chip Picks

  • L.R. Baggs Venue

  • 2011 Smith OM-28

  • 2011 Smith D-28


  • Winner of “Power Grass” guitar player and male vocalist of the year in 2006;

  • Shared stages with Tony Rice, JD Crowe, Adam Steffey, Larry Sparks, Ralph Stanley, Paul Williams, and Doyle Lawson

  • Worked previously with band mates Mark Millsaps, Marty Price, Eddie Rose, Patrick Bradshaw, Danny Bishop, Aaron Ramsey, Mark Austin, Dwight Bradshaw, Scott Sutton, Steve Sutton, Gary Mackey, Goward Champion, Raymond Fairchild, Jim Sorrells, and Mark Stevenson

Marc Pruett


Marc Pruett

Marc Pruett grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina.  This Southern Appalachian Region has long been a hot-bed for traditional arts and folk music.  When Marc was first learning to play mountain string-band music, artists like Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, the Stanley Brothers and Jimmy Martin regularly played the area to well attended audiences. These and other great mountain folk artists were the ones to which Marc Pruett listened and tried to emulate.

“The day I got the 45 (rpm) of Flatt and Scruggs playing “Mama Don’t Allow,” I spent 5 and 1/2 hours on the banjo breaks until I had them down pretty close!  That little climbing 7th run that Earl did in the second break covered me up!”

In high school, Marc Pruett played his 5-string banjo at many programs of the day…talent contests, fiddlers conventions, churches, street dances and the like. When he was 15 years old, he accepted an invitation to play his first professional job.  It was at Ghost Town in Maggie Valley, NC in the late 1960’s that Marc tenured for three summer seasons with the staff band at the Red Barn Playhouse that was headed up by the legendary Pan-Handle Pete (James Howard Nash) of the “one-man-band” fame.

“Pete was a master showman!  I learned so much from studying his stage work…like how to pace a show and match presentation and material to an audience in ways that make entertainment happen effectively.”

Marc Pruett “picked” his way through college at Western Carolina University, and while earning a B.S. Degree in Geology, he had a chance to work for a season with James Monroe, son of Grand Ole Opry star, Bill Monroe.

“I played on some fun programs with James….got to meet a lot of people.  I remember it was at Ralph Stanley’s in McClure, Virginia in 1973 that I had the chance to visit with Ricky Skaggs and get to be buddies with him.  That next year (1974), we went to Silver Springs, Maryland, and I helped Ricky record his first album called That’s It.”

In June of 1973, Marc Pruett had a great break into “bluegrass” music.  “Well….we went to Bill’s (Monroe) festival at Bean Blossom, Indiana, and MCA Records had it set up to record a live album that weekend.  It was kind of Bill’s answer to Will The Circle Be Unbroken.  Lester Flatt was on it…Jimmy Martin…Jim and Jesse…Carl Jackson…a lot of folks.  I got to record there on James Monroe’s segment and in the final festival segment with all the great fiddle players like Paul Warren, Kenny Baker, and Big Joe Green.  James introduced me on the record when I played TRAIN 45…a lot of people heard that because the album did so well for Bill.”  BEAN BLOSSOM was released in CD form and is still a classic bluegrass recording.

After graduating from WCU, Marc and his brother, Matt, opened a music store in Asheville, NC that was associated with Pick ‘n’ Grin of Knoxville, TN.  During his ~12 year stay in the retail business, Marc Pruett taught hundreds of folks to play the banjo.  He also helped promote many local shows and still kept a lively presence on the bluegrass music scene. He continued to work some with artists like Jimmy Martin, the Whites, the Kingsmen, Billy Edd Wheeler and Ricky Skaggs.

“The first time I played on the Grand Ole Opry was with Jimmy Martin.  It was an honor to perform with a man so knowledgeable in bluegrass music.  He had done so much for the music I love, and he had a way of bringing out the best in banjo players like JD Crowe and Bill Emerson.  To learn from him and to play songs he had in the Country Music Hall of Fame was really fun!  The first time I played at Lincoln Center in New York was with Jimmy Martin.

When I worked with The Whites, they were a bluegrass act and fantastic to work with…I did quite a few programs with Buck and the girls.  They are lifelong friends and solid class, and I am so proud of the success they’ve had as a featured group in the hit movie Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

I really enjoyed recording and performing some with the great gospel group, The Kingsmen. The neatest date I played with them was a TV show in Knoxville when Squire Parsons was with them.  That show was hosted by the great comedian Archie Campbell of Hee Haw and Grand Ole Opry fame.

Also, I’ve been able to write and record with Billy Edd Wheeler.  What a creative guy!  One of the songs I co-wrote with him was used on a National Geographic Society project called SONGS OF CUMBERLAND GAP-THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DANIEL BOONE.  He and I have been working on several songs since late 2009.  Billy Edd is a genius!  Now you know what “genius” is don’t you…it’s perpetual audacity!”

Through his association with Pick ‘n’ Grin of Knoxville, Tennessee, Marc Pruett took his local band to Europe in 1976 as part of a cultural exchange tour in that American bi-centennial year.  The band consisted of Earl Cowart, Boyd Dills, Sam Parker, Boyce Reeve (Corky) McCorkle, Tut Taylor and Marc.  This trip was a predecessor to the North Carolina international folk festival Folkmoot.  Dr. Clinton Border of Waynesville, NC was instrumental in organizing this cultural exchange, and the tour included a widely acclaimed mountain clogging group, The Carolina Cloggers directed by legendary dancer, Red Ivester.

“We played in front of old castles, on town squares, in schools….and right before we were set to come back to the states, Tut Taylor stuffed his resonator guitar with Polish sausage to bring back .  We kidded him about his guitar sounding “full”!

For five years, from September 1974 to September 1979, Marc Pruett played on every show the “Southern Lawmen” had booked.  This was the official corporate band of the old Southern Railway that performed for many public relations events, operations meetings and railroad-endorsed programs (public and private).  During his tenure with the Lawmen, Marc performed for and became friends with a lot of folks from railroad company presidents such as D. W. Brosnan, Harry DeButz, W. Graham Claytor, and Harold Hall as well as executives to CEO’s of companies like ATT and Remington Arms.  Marc played on TV in Kentucky and traveled to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia performing with The Southern Lawmen.  With the railroad band, Marc Pruett made many lasting professional friendships and learned much of the entertainment needs for corporate clients at facilities like Brosnan Forest in St. George, SC.

“I was honored when I was chosen to replace the legendary entertainer George Pegram in the railroad group.  He had been with them so long and was such a great performer.  After Mr. Pegram died in 1974, Captain J.R. Perkins contacted me.  We talked…picked…and struck up a friendship, and I joined the band.  I really enjoyed working with “the Lawmen” and being associated with the railroad.”

In 2000-2002, I had the chance to do a lot of performances with the new version of THE LAWMEN.  We were in Kansas City for the National Sheriff’s Association…in Salt Lake City for the national meeting of OPERATION LIFESAVER…and in Pennsylvania for The Make A Wish Foundation.  I played with the group in Atlanta for a national meeting of State Highway Patrol Agencies.  It has truly been wonderful to rekindle old friendships at meetings like the Norfolk-Southern Board of Directors meetings, the Georgia-Pacific Board of Directors meeting, the Brosnan Forest programs and at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia.

In October 1979, a newly formed MARC PRUETT BAND began a nine-year “stint” as the house band at Bill Stanley’s BBQ and Bluegrass Restaurant in Asheville, N.C.  The band included legendary bassist, Randy Davis (the man Bill Monroe introduced as, “Randy Davis from Asheville, North Carolina…a man with perfect timing,” stunning mandolin player, Mike Hunter, widely noted fiddler, Arvil Freeman and guitar and banjo whiz, Steve Sutton.  Bill Stanley’s historic facility could accommodate 400 folks and served up some dandy BBQ, bluegrass music and Southern mountain clog dancing in its time.  At Bill Stanley’s, Marc used every opportunity to hone his skills in performance, and through those years, he further developed his playing ability and song writing.  Hundreds of thousands of people were entertained and fed through Bill Stanley’s business, and the Marc Pruett Band was at the entertainment helm! The list of influential and well-known folks entertained by the Marc Pruett Band at Bill Stanley’s include Lewis Grizzard…Ben Wright…Frank Whittaker…Tim Conway…Pat Sumerall…Dinah Shore…Yogi Berra…Al Gore…Douglas Kiker (NBC)…Gail E. Hailey (Caldicott Award Winner)…President Jimmy Carter………the list seems endless!  About the time he left Bill Stanley’s, Marc and his wife, Anita started their family.  Anita is a talented musician in her own right, but she left a vacancy as banjo player with Whitewater Bluegrass Company.  Marc helped out in this capacity through the 1990’s, and he enjoyed the many programs he helped present with his pickin’ buddies Ted White and Bill Byerly in Whitewater Bluegrass Company.

In 1995, Marc’s old friend, Ricky Skaggs called needing a banjo player for a MARTHA WHITE BLUEGRASS NIGHT AT THE RYMAN.  After the show that night, Ricky asked Marc to help out on some more of his bluegrass dates, and this led to a 2 1/2 year association with Skaggs and his band Kentucky Thunder.  On weekends and time off from work, Marc traveled and played with Skaggs’ group from British Columbia to Maine….from the Grand Ole Opry to California.  Of his involvement with the Ricky Skaggs organization, Marc says, “It was truly a musician’s dream.  I feel like I had the chance to learn so much…and to play some of the best music in my life!  It was wonderful to be able to perform at that level and get a chance to record with that band. Since BLUEGRASS RULES received the GRAMMY from the American Association of Recording Arts and Sciences, I have been deeply touched by the many congratulations I’ve had for my contribution to that project.  From my heart, I say a sincere thank you to all the folks who enjoyed that album!”

Through 1998 and 1999, Marc Pruett performed a lot with Rock Springs Reunion.  This was a bluegrass gospel group that played regional Christian programs.  One of the songs Marc co-wrote with his brother, Matt, went to the number 7 spot on the BLUEGRASS NOW chart in the summer of 1999 (JOHN SAW ME).

Marc Pruett has been described by Nashville Network producers as “having the hands of Earl Scruggs and the heart of Lester Flatt!”  Marc Pruett plays the banjo with power and an intuitive feel!  It has been said that “the reward for scholarship, persistence, determination, practice and passion is the priceless quality of ease….ours only when we know we know!” It is on this commanding level that Marc Pruett strives to present the 5-string, bluegrass banjo.  His cumulative years of experience in entertainment support a well-paced and tight-laced program, and the reverence he has for music tradition is well balanced in his current programs by his appreciation for and presentation of the new music of Balsam Range.

Marc Pruett has performed literally thousands of shows with mountain cloggers.  Marc says “When we performed at THE SHOWBOAT in Las Vegas, I took my high school buddy, Skip Parker, with us to clog.  On the show card, I had the promoter bill him as the world’s greatest buck dancer!  Old Skip glued taps to a pair of running shoes and had people dancin’ in the aisles!  I love good cloggin’….and that was one time we really had it!”

Marc has long admired the sincerity, the honest approach, and the humor of the M.C. style of the late Lester Flatt. “He (Flatt) always seemed so believable…so approachable…that’s something I never quit working toward.” On banjo playing, Marc says “…the first time I heard Earl Scruggs, I heard a completeness I’ve never heard equaled anywhere.  To me, it was and still stands as the total thing that banjo pickin’ should be!  Humbly I say….every time I pick my banjo up….in my own way, I try to breathe a little breath of that wonderful feeling that  “he” had into my own playing.”  For his lifetime efforts to further the banjo, for his talents, and for his dedication to “bluegrass” music, Marc Pruett was honored by being featured in the definitive book on banjo players…MASTERS OF THE FIVE STRING BANJO written by Tony Trishka and Peter Wernick.

Marc Pruett is a native Southern Mountain performer with a list of credentials a mile long and a day’s walk wide!  His enthusiasm and solid stage presence coupled with his “power-pickin’” and interaction with an audience help deliver a fresh, appealing mountain performance.  Marc says, “I’ve had some neat things happen to me.  One was when Ricky Skaggs introduced me at the Ryman Auditorium as AMERICA’S BANJO PLAYER!    Another one was when my wife, Anita, and I performed at the College Of West Virginia with the legendary Bluegrass musician, Everett Lilly who played for years with his brother Bea as The Lilly Brothers.  I’ve studied Everett Lilly’s great mandolin playing and tenor singing all my life…especially the classic recordings he made with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys in the fifties.  That night backstage, we rehearsed a while, and I thought it went pretty well.  After we finished one of the tunes, Everett Lilly gave me one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received.  In that quiet spot at the end of the song…while the instruments were still ringing…and everyone in the room was still intently listening…Everett Lilly looked over at me and said…”THAT’S THE WAY A BANJO SHOULD BE PLAYED!”

Marc Pruett has appeared on many nationally released albums, and he has appeared on a large volume of regional releases.   His music was (for over a dozen years) used as the square dance theme for Unto These Hills…the outdoor drama about the removal of the Cherokee Indians from North Carolina.   Marc has contributed to the documentation of cultural resources in Western North Carolina.  He worked with his friends Ted White and Susan Armstrong in the mid-2000’s to obtain a grant from the state of North Carolina to produce (in association with Haywood Community College) a folk life documentary called Spirit of the Mountains, the Stories of Uncle Albert Burnette.  This film was presented for a statewide preview at Haywood Community College in 2004 during the college’s 40th anniversary festival knows as “Mountain Echoes.”  As part of his interest in promoting and preserving mountain music and the heritage arts, Marc Pruett has recorded and produced dozens of album projects for many mountain performers.

On banjos, Marc says, “I currently use three different banjos. I still play the old ‘parts’ banjo I used on Bluegrass Rules with Ricky Skaggs, and I have really enjoyed playing one of the new Sullivan banjos made by the Sullivan family of First Quality Music Supply in Louisville, Kentucky.  Also, my friend, the late Scott Sheridan willed me his Tennessee Crafters banjo, and Warren Yates has really spiced it up with his ‘banjo magic.’ My friends know that I love ‘the old five’ with all my heart, and I am looking forward to a great stretch with Balsam Range!”

Honorary Doctor of Arts

On Saturday May 8, 2010, Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina conferred upon Haywood County (NC) native, Marc Pruett an honorary degree of Doctor of Arts.  That day, Marc was one of two people chosen by WCU to receive that honor for that year.  Dr. John Bardo, Chancellor of Western Carolina University read his conferring speech that is mirrored in the presentation document that accompanies the university’s Doctor of Arts degree presented to Marc.  It reads as follows:

Doctor of Arts

Honoris Causa

Marc Reagan Pruett

Marc Reagan Pruett – musician, songwriter and alumnus of Western Carolina University – you have earned your reputation as on of the great masters of the five-string banjo throughout a stage and recording career that has spanned more than four decades.

Growing up in Haywood County, you acquired an intense love of bluegrass while listening to the pioneers of that style of music, and you naturally gravitated toward life as an entertainer.  You developed your skill with the banjo and gave your first professional performance at 15 years of age.

Your association with Western Carolina began in the fall of 1969, when you enrolled and started work on your bachelor’s degree.  As a WCU student, you began performing with James Monroe, son of bluegrass originator Bill Monroe, and that association led to other opportunities to take the stage with many of the genre’s biggest stars, including a show with bluegrass giant Jimmy Martin at Nashville’s most famous showplace, the Grand Ole Opry.

You received your bachelor’s degree in geology in 1974, and the next year you began your close association with Mountain Heritage Day, the university’s annual celebration of mountain culture.  You performed at the first Mountain Heritage Day, held in October 1975, and since then you have continued to strongly support the festival with your talents – not for financial compensation or other personal gain – but because of the intense love you possess for the traditional culture of the region.

Your talent and fame continued to grow over the decades as you played your banjo at classic venues such as New York’s Lincoln Center and toured across Europe as part of a cultural exchange associated with this nation’s bicentennial year.  In 1995, your friend Ricky Skaggs asked you to join his band, Kentucky Thunder, and you received that most coveted musical honor, the Grammy Award, for your work with Skaggs on the album “Bluegrass Rules.”

Also in the 1990’s, you began to display your considerable talents with the group Whitewater Bluegrass Company, and since 2007, you have performed as a member of Balsam Range, which unites you with four of your fellow Haywood County natives, two of whom also are WCU alumni.  Now, with your critically acclaimed stage performances and recordings with Balsam Range, you continue your quest to advance bluegrass music by reaching new fans here at home and all over the world.

Marc Reagan Pruett, your musical accomplishments alone are exemplary and worthy of great acclaim, but let it be noted that during your musical career you truly have been an ambassador with a banjo as you have traveled the world, representing your university, your mountains and your people with outstanding humor, warmth and personality.  You have carved your own niche as one of Western North Carolina’s great cultural icons and as a beloved son of the mountains.

In recognition of your many achievements as a professional musician, and in appreciation for your support and love of the traditional culture of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, the Board of Trustees of Western Carolina University is pleased to award, and the Chancellor to confer upon you, the Degree of Doctor of Arts, Honoris Causa, at this Commencement Ceremony, May 8, 2010, with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining.

Upon receiving his honorary degree of Doctor of Arts, Marc Pruett was asked to address the Spring 2010 graduates as well as all those attending the spring Graduation Ceremony at the Liston B. Ramsey Center on the campus of Western Carolina University.  Marc’s speech follows in entirety:

Thirty six years ago, I stood excitedly at WCU as a graduating senior. My dreams included a life filled with purpose…a life meeting challenges…and a life rising to the highest positive potential I could envision for myself.  The preparation I received here at Western was invaluable toward shaping me as a person, in guiding me through my life’s work, and in helping me find many of the goals I envisioned in my youth.

Why we do what we do in life is not always a mystery.  Propensity can often be observed at an early age.

Once, when I was a small boy, I was riding in the car with my Dad and listening to the radio.  A song came on by the late Lonnie Irving…one he had written and recorded that was saturated with the emotions of a troubled life.  The significance of that moment lives for me in the comment my Dad made when he saw I was moved by the message in that song.  He asked me if I liked what I heard.  Too overcome to speak…I simply nodded my head affirmatively.  Then he said…“Son, that’s country music”.  He made that statement with a pride that told me… “We…are county people…and it’s OK to feel those emotions.” Our lives are sprinkled with a few defining moments…and I felt at that moment, whatever country music was would be a part of my life.

When I was a child, my Mother knew I liked country music, and she would let me listen to the radio when I got home from school.  I’d have snack…then I would have to do my homework.  Back then, the local radio station had a country show they called “The Cornbread Matinee”.  I loved it…and I listened.  One day…the station featured a band known as Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.  That day, the boys played songs like…Earl’s Breakdown…Dim Lights and Thick Smoke…and the Flint Hill Special.  It was that day I heard the perfection in Earl Scruggs’ banjo playing.  It spoke to me in ways I still find hard to explain.  That day…I felt a small voice inside of me say, “That’s part of who you are too.”

Through caring support and thoughtful participation, many people have contributed greatly to any efforts I have made that may be deemed worthy of recognition.  Some of those people are here today, and I want to give my heartfelt thank you to my family…for they are the ones who saw the banjo come to the hill, and they are the ones who continue to encourage me to grow…even as they continue to make sacrifices for that to happen.

My mother and father, Ray and Mickey Pruett and my wife Anita have been my most giving supporters through the years.  Without their love and understanding, I would never have been this far in my adventure with Appalachian Heritage music. I love you, and I thank you.  As well, to my mother Mickey and to my wife Anita…happy Mother’s Day from your family.

In my gratitude, I cannot let this moment pass without the warmest symbolic hug to my brother, Matthew…and to my children: Elizabeth, Zachary and Callie Marie.  As well, let me extend my gratitude to the others in my family of lifetime friends and associates who are here today in my support.

Also, let me express appreciation to my family of this great Western Carolina University…my Alma Mater.  In particular, I want to recognize Dr. Billy Ogletree and Dr. John Bardo who were instrumental in spearheading this effort and moving it forward on my behalf.  I also would like to recognize the support and friendship of Dr. Scott Philyaw who is Director of the Mountain Heritage Center.

To everyone here, I hope to continue to share enjoyable trails of music with you. In parting…let me offer you my verbal photograph.  Remember me through this:

Pray that you are given “passion.” Use it to mold your aptitudes into talent.  Grow your talents to the fullest positive expression.   And then…share yourself with the world in ways that will give you the most noble of attributes…and that is compassion.”

Thank you.

Support player and entertainment provider for the following clients and venues:

  • NAFSA Association of International Educators (Global Summit)

    1. The American Waterworks Association

    2. The National Folk Festival

    3. The North Carolina Apple Festival

    4. NCNB/Nations Bank

    5. South Carolina State Peach Festival

    6. The Grand Ole Opry

    7. Lincoln Center

    8. The Capitol Children’s Center (Washington, D.C.)

    9. The Bitteroot Valley Bluegrass Festival (Montana)

    10. The Appalachian Festival Of Humor (Berea College)

    11. National Public Radio’s “MOUNTAIN STAGE” (Charleston, WVA)

    12. The Nashville Network”s TRIBUTE TO BILL MONROE

    13. The Medical University Of South Carolina

    14. Kiawah Island Inn

    15. The World Music Festival (CA)

    16. The Omni in Atlanta

    17. The Kemper Open (Pinehurst)

    18. Showcase America (Branson)

    19. Clay Electric Co-Op (Keystone Heights, FL)

    20. The National Crime Commission Convention (Bethesda, MD)

    21. The University Of Illinois (with George “Goober” Lindsay)

    22. Southern Safari (for Gundlach Bundschu)

    23. Unto These Hills (outdoor drama/Cherokee, N.C.)

    24. VMI Americas

    25. The General Electric Corporation

    26. Freedom Escape Lodge

    27. The Trial Attorneys of North Carolina

    28. The Philadelphia Folk Festival

    29. The Governor’s Western Residence (N.C.)

    30. Blue Boar Lodge

    31. The Dupont Company Picnic

    32. The Olin Company Picnic

    33. Kellwood Company

    34. Champion Timberlands (at Lake Logan Lodge)

    35. The Smoky Mountain Folk Festival

    36. Cronland Warp Roll Company

    37. Bristol Brother’s Lumber Company

    38. Bob Evans Farm Festival (Ohio)

    39. The OX Roast

    40. Richard Petty

    41. Kentucky State Horse Park

    42. The Digital Corporation

    43. Bell-Atlantic Mobile

    44. Fishburn International

    45. Schwitzer Turbochargers

    46. Steelcas

    47. The Country Music Fan Fair

    48. The North Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Districts Annual Meeting (Charlotte)

    49. The Homestead (Hot Springs, VA)

    50. The Grove Park Inn  (many events)

    51. ASHTO Conference

    52. Merlefest

    53. High Hampton Inn

    54. Frymont Inn

    55. The Jarrett House

    56. ACC Tourney (halftime show in Charlotte, NC)

    57. The Rhododendron Festival

    58. Greystone Inn

    59. Meridith College

    60. The University Of North Carolina

    61. Western Carolina University

    62. Mars Hill College

    63. Appalachian State University

    64. Clemson University

    65. The University Of Tennessee

    66. Belle Chere Festival

    67. The Country Palace (Ohio)

    68. The Ernest Tubb Record Shop

    69. Wolftrap

    70. Thomas Pointe Beach Bluegrass Festival (Maine)

    71. The Carter Fold (Hiltons, VA)

    72. The Biltmore Estate

    73. Champion Hills Country Club

    74. The World’s Fair (Knoxville)

    75. Okechobee Bluegrass Festival (FL)

    76. The Tennessee A & I Fair

    77. The Tommy Faile  Show

    78. Brosnan Forest (St. George, S.C.)

    79. Wythville Community College (VA)

    80. The Stringbean Memorial Festival (Annville, KY)

    81. The International Bluegrass Music Association’s Awards Show (Owensboro)

    82. The Hattiesburg Bluegrass Festival (MS)

    83. The Snuffy Jenkins Festival (backing Grandpa Jones)

    84. The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival (PA)

    85. WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day (founding performer)

    86. Warren Wilson College

    87. Kenmure

    88. Georgia Pacific Corporation Convention

    89. Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Festival

    90. The Ryman Auditorium

    91. The Carolina Theater (Greensboro)

    92. The Paramount (Ashland, KY)

    93. Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff (company picnic….Boone, NC)

    94. Christie….the play at Townsend, TN

    95. Taylor Ranch

    96. Biltmore Forest Country Club

    97. Cedar Creek Country Club

    98. Pisgah View Ranch

    99. The Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway

    100. The National Convention of State’s Attorneys General

    101. TNN’s Fire on the Mountain

    102. TNN’s The Grand Ole Opry Live

    103. Northwestern Mutual Life

    104. BiLo Food Fair (Palmetto Expo Center)

    105. Town of Columbus, NC 4th of July Celebration

    106. Town of Santeetlah, NC 4th of July Celebration

    107. Memorial Mission Hospital (Dedication of the Ruth and Billy Graham Children’s Health Center)

    108. Farm and Forest Equipment Company

    109. Bruce Machinery (John Deere Customer Appreciation Day)

    110. Mascot Homes

    111. Broyhill Children’s Home

    112. Waynesville Country Club

    113. Canton Hardwood Company

    114. Laurel Ridge Country Club

    115. Mercury Records (private party)

    116. Deer Park (many events)

    117. Gold City

    118. Maggie Valley Golf and Country Club

    119. Fairfield Sapphire Valley

    120. United States Congressman Lamar Gudger

    121. Judge Ron Howell

    122. The Mountains At Lake Lure

    123. Governor Jim Hunt

    124. NCDOT Maintenance Conference (with the Secretary of Transportation, Norris Tolsen)

    125. Tanglewood

    126. 52nd NC State Evangelical Conference

    127. Ingles (as TV actor for commercials/food fair entertainment/private parties)

    128. The Lost Sea

    129. Tri-Cities Airport (TN)

    130. Haywood Tech

    131. Southwestern Tech

    132. Mountain Aire Golf and Country Club

    133. The River Ridge Shopping Center

    134. Kanuga Watercolor Workshop

  • Belks

  • The Boy Scouts of America

  • Haywood County Fox Hunters Association

  • Highland Lake Conference Center

  • Kanuga Conference Center

  • Elizabeth Dole

  • United States Senator John Edwards

  • the Vance-Aycock Diner

  • United States Senator Robert Byrd

  • United States Senator Robert Morgan

  • Tipper Gore

  • Proffits

  • The World Association of Nuclear Operators

  • The Nascar Hall Of Fame

  • Silver Dollar City

  • …and many, many more.

Record and/or appeared in concert with:

  • The Whites

  • Ricky Skaggs

  • Marty Stuart

  • Bill Monroe

  • Jimmy Martin,

  • Archie Campbell

  • James Monroe

  • Lester Flatt

  • The Kingsmen

  • Peter Rowan

  • Jerry Douglas

  • Tony Rice

  • Emmy Lou Harris

  • Tim Surrett

  • Chris Hillman

  • Bernie Leaden

  • John R. Bowman

  • Frank Wakefield

  • Eric Weisberg

  • Mac Wiseman

  • Ralph Stanley

  • Bryan Sutton

  • Billy Edd Wheeler

  • Terry McMillan

  • Adam Steffy

  • Barry Bales

  • Patty Loveless

  • Bobby Hicks

  • Rob Ikes

  • Joe and Jeanette Carter

  • Everett Lilly

  • The Isaacs

  • George “Goober” Lindsey

  • Rhonda Vincent

  • Chubby Wise

  • Josh Graves

  • Buddy Melton

  • Darren Nicholson

  • Caleb Smith

  • …and many more, including a host of regional bands and artists


Marc Pruett is pleased to be associated with and endorsed by First Quality Music Supply and Sullivan Banjos.  Marc has been a customer and friend with FQMS for over 30 years, and he is pleased with the fabulous progress the Sullivan Family has made over the years in the delivery of music product and in instrument development.

“The Sullivan’s have helped lead the industry in quality music product sales, and I am extremely proud of the great progress they have made…especially with the new, killer-sounding VINTAGE 35 banjos!  The Sullivan Family are “first quality folks” who love music, and they are devoted to offering great products and great service!  In the words of the late family patriarch, Bill Sullivan…”We are all Bluegrass Friends!”  And I am glad to call his sons, Eric and Jeff my “bluegrass friends.”


You may contact Marc through his e-mail address:  pruettmarc@yahoo.com or his Facebook page.

Darren Nicholson


Darren Nicholson

Darren Nicholson is a musician based in Western North Carolina.

He is a Grammy Award Nominee and a recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s – Album of the Year award, and has appeared countless times on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium, and many of the world’s most famous venues.

He’s proud to have taken his blend of Country, Bluegrass, Americana to 49 states, as well as across Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Jamaica, Haiti, Australia, and all over Europe.

To learn more about Darren Nicholson and his solo project, visit www.DarrenNicholson.net.


  • Grammy Nomination (2006)

  • Numerous performances on the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium, and CMA MusicFest

  • Numerous National TV Appearances – GAC, CMT, ESPN, Charlie Chase Show, Nashville Now, Song of the Mountain

  • Tour with Merle Haggard

  • Tour and recordings with Zac Brown and Southern Ground

  • 2014 IBMA Entertainer of the Year (Balsam Range)

  • 2014 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year (Balsam Range)

  • 2013 IBMA Album on the Year (Papertown – Balsam Range)

  • 2011 Song of the Year (Trains I Missed – Balsam Range)

  • 2006 IBMA Album of the Year Award (Celebration of Life – Various Artists/Alecia Nugent)

  • 2004-2005 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee – Alecia Nugent Band

  • 2010 IBMA Emerging Artist Nominee – Balsam Range

  • Performed for entire living cast of The Andy Griffith Show at Grand Ole Opry 2004

  • Bobby Osborne tribute concert performances with Alecia Nugent and Marty Stuart

  • Inducted into the NC Folk-Life Institute 2008

  • Performed on dozens of national #1 songs and albums including: Crowe Brothers/Balsam Range/Darren Nicholson/Kristy Cox

  • First band to ever perform at the NASCAR Hall of Fame (with Balsam Range)

  • JBovier Acoustic Stringed instruments produce the Darren Nicholson Model mandolin – A5-X

  • WNCW, the #1 flagship bluegrass station, voted Trains I Missed as #1 on their Top 50 Bluegrass CDs of 2010, and #5 on their top 100 overall from any genre (ahead of Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Robert Plant).

  • 2012 Declaration of Balsam Range Day in Haywood County

Record and/or performed in concert with:

  • Vince Gill

  • Zac Brown Band

  • Merle Haggard

  • John Corabi (Motley Crue)

  • George Jones

  • Earl Scruggs

  • Grand Ole Opry Staff Band

  • Joe Gibbs (NASCAR/NFL)

  • John Driskell Hopkins

  • Phil Vassar

  • Travis Tritt

  • Joe Diffie

  • Steep Canyon Rangers

  • Marty Raybon (Shenandoah)

  • Marty Stuart

  • Bobby Osborne

  • Rebecca Lynn Howard

  • Alecia Nugent

  • Sam Bush

  • Tony Rice

  • Suzy Boggess

  • Charlie Daniels

  • Tom T. Hall

  • Doyle Lawson

  • Carl Jackson

  • Rhonda Vincent

  • Ralph Lewis

  • Jon Randall

  • Ronnie Bowman

  • Bryan Sutton

  • Russell Moore

  • Larry Cordle

  • Bobby Hicks

  • Roy Clark

  • Hoot Hester

  • Bradley Walker

  • Raymond Fairchild

  • Tommy White

  • Melvin Sloan Dancers

  • Sammy Shelor

  • The Infamous Stringdusters

  • Audie Blaylock and Redline

  • Claire Lynch

  • Don Wayne Reno

  • Hazel Creek

  • Crowe Brothers

  • The Inspirations

  • Harris Brothers

  • Katie Kerkhover

  • Little Roy Lewis

  • Karen Peck

  • The Sidemen

  • Rob Ikes

  • Randy Kohrs

  • Andy Hall

  • Andy Falco

  • The Primitive Quartet

  • Josh Williams

  • Sonya Isaacs

  • Steve Sutton

  • Jerry Salley

  • Aubrey Haynie

  • Jim Van Cleve

  • Jimmy Stewart

  • Michael Cleveland

  • Chris Warner

  • Steve Thomas

  • Chris Sharpe

  • Steve Lewis

  • …and many more, including a host of regional bands and artists


  • GHS Strings

  • JBovier Acoustic Stringed Instruments

  • WNCbluegrass.com

  • Folk Heritage Committee

  • MusiciansBelt.com

Years spent in different professional groups and former band members

  • Hazel Creek – Eddie Rose, Gary Allen, Bob Ginn, Mike Crowder, Steve Sutton, Bobby Hicks (3 Years)

  • Alecia Nugent Band – Alecia Nugent, Steve Sutton, Andy Falco, Andy Hall, Jennifer Strickland, Gena Britt, John Osborne, Josh Matheny, T.J. Osborne,

  • GUESTS: Carl Jackson, Aubrey Haynie, Jim Van Cleve, Ronnie Bowman, Jimmy Stewart, Michael Cleveland, Booie Beach, Mike Anglin, Alan Bartram, Rebecca Lynn Howard (3 Years)

  • Audie Blaylock and Redline – Audie Blaylock, Evan Ward, Patrick McAvinue, Barry Reed, Matt Wallace, Chris Warner (Dozens of Tours)

  • Darren Nicholson Band – Kevin Sluder, Richard Foulk, Steve Sutton, Griff Martin (4 Years)

  • The Crowe Brothers – Josh Crowe, Wayne Crowe, Steve Sutton, Daniel Grindstaff, Steve Thomas, Steve Lewis, George Buckner, Mike Faegan (2 Years)

  • Balsam Range (2007-current)

  • Darren Nicholson Band (2010-current)

  • John Driskell Hopkins (2012-current)

What They’re Saying

“Darren Nicholson is one of the finest young talents in bluegrass today and I’m extremely proud to be a part of his debut CD and his career.”
– Carl Jackson (Grammy Award Winning Musician and Producer)

“Darren Nicholson is one of the brightest young stars on the horizon…Great songs, great singing, and great music. His cd’s will be in heavy rotation on your player for a long time to come…it is in mine right now.”
– Larry Cordle (Legendary Country Songwriter and Bluegrass Icon)

“Darren Nicholson is a wonderfully talented bluegrass artist and check out his fan pages. Become a fan like us. DarrenNicholson.net”
– Indie Music Lounge

“Darren Nicholson is one of the finest talents in blue grass today. His outstanding performance along with the band’s was one of the main reason we were able to raise $30,000.00 to help provide health care for so many needy folks here in Henderson County. ”
– D. Durham (Entertainment/Benefit Coordinator Free Medical Clinics of Hendersonville)

“Darren Nicholson is the Jimmi Hendrix of Mandolin!”
– J. Massie (Fan)


  • Sweet Lowdown – Chasing The Sun(2014) – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Five(2014)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Kristy Cox – Living For The Moment(2014) – Pisgah Ridge Records – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Darren Nicholson – Things Left Undone(2013) – Bearded Baby Records – Production, Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Papertown(2012)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Tim Gardner – Timmetry(2012) – Vocals

  • Ty Gilpin – Crooked Hollows(2012) – Guitar, Vocals

  • Sav Sankaran – Back To Bassics(2012) – Vocals

  • Balsam Range – Trains I Missed(2010)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – A Mountain Home Christmas(2010)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Graves Mountain All-Star Jam – Live Recording(2010)- Rural Rhythm Records – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – WNCW Goin Across The Mountain Vol. 11(2008) – Independent – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Songs Of Jackson County – Self-titled(2009) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Last Train To Kitty Hawk(2009)- Mountain Home Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin, Mandola

  • The Crowe Brothers – Brothers N Harmony(2009) – Rural Rhythm Records – Mandolin

  • Seth Rhinehart – Self-titled(2009) – Bearded Baby Records – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – IBMA Song Sampler(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Tom Godleski – Fresh Preserves(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – WNCW Goin Across The Mountain Vol. 5(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Songs Of Haywood County – Self-titled(2008) – Independent – Mandolin

  • Balsam Range – Marching Home(2007) – Mountain Home Records – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Celebration Of Life – Musicians Against Childhood Cancer – Skaggs Family Records – Mandolin

  • Alecia Nugent – A Little Girl…A Big Four Lane(2006) – Rounder Records – Vocals

  • Darren Nicholson – Self-titled(2006)- Bearded Baby Records – Production, Vocals, Guitar, Mandolin

  • Larry Watson – Thoughts of Yesterday(2005) – Independent – Vocals, Mandolin

  • Hazel Creek – Hickory Wind(2003)- Independent- Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Hazel Creek – Blessed By The Past(2002) – Independent – Production, Vocals, Mandolin

  • Ila Knight – Friends and Family(2002) – Independent – Vocals

Instruments and Accessories

“I have two mandolins that I play regularly. I have a Gibson F5-G that Steve Sutton purchased for me when I first started playing the mandolin in about 2003. I had been playing about a year but it was my first legitimate working instrument and is still one of the best mandolins I have ever played. This mandolin means a lot to me personally; because it was also the one I played first on the Grand Ole Opry and most of my traveling and recording. Ed Weber created my great Truss Rod Cover. This mandolin was made in 2001. I also have had JBovier mandolins and Jeff Cowherd at JBovier was nice enough to build a mandolin specifically for me. After several talks and meetings we came up with the A5-X, which he called the Darren Nicholson Model. But I am currently playing at Metcalf Mandolin. Rick Metcalf is a master Luthier from Morganton NC. Danny Bishop and Jack Dillen have exclusively done the repair and maintenance for my instruments the past several years.

“Since early 2008, I have been using Blue Chip Picks. And I also use Wegen picks. And I exclusively use GHS mandolin strings. I switch back and forth between the silk series occasionally and the custom set I get from their custom shop. My custom set favors extra heavy E strings. GHS has a quality and tone that consistently withstands my heavy playing schedule (www.ghsstrings.com). David Schenck from Dogwood Designs and Kimberlie of Rulien’s Lost Mus created the straps I use. Strains of Music takes care of the rest of my musical supplies and needs. I owe a huge thanks to all these folks.”

Tim Surrett

Upright Bass

Tim Surrett

Tim Surrett was born and raised in Canton, NC. With music being a big part of Tim’s life and seeing the power of music as a ministry, Tim climbed on a bus right out of high school and began a musical career that would bless him with many opportunities. Tim has played on several of the most prestigious stages in the music business like the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall and the Ryman Auditorium. Tim has also had the honor of playing and recording with some of the most talented people in the music industry such as Tony Rice, Doyle Lawson, JD Crowe, Adam Steffey, Ralph Stanley, Larry Sparks, Paul Williams, The Kingsmen, The Inspirations, Squire Parsons, Danny Roberts, and many more. Among these opportunities, Tim has also been honored with many awards such as the Singing News Fan Awards Favorite Musician of the Year.

In 1991 Tim and his friend Mickey Gamble formed a new recording company called ‘The Mountain Home Music Company.” The label is now one of the premier labels in Bluegrass. “Mountain Home” now includes: Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, The Grascals, The Lonesome River Band, The Boxcars, Crowe, Lawson, and Williams, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, and Balsam Range.

Tim is also a staff producer for Pisgah Ridge Records and Organic Records. Recent productions include: NewTown, Mountain Faith, Flatt Lonesome, The Harper Family, Red June, and Balsam Range.

Tim is an active studio player as well, playing recently for Crowe, Lawson, and Williams, Danny Roberts, Jeff and James Easter, and Red June.


  • GHS Strings

  • Frank Harlow Resonator Guitars

  • K and K Pickups

  • Blue Chip Picks

  • Bishop’s Violin Shop

  • D’Addario Upright Bass Strings


  • 2015 IBMA Bass Player of the Year

  • 2018 IBMA Bass Player of the Year

  • Seven-time winner of “Favorite Gospel Music Band” with the Kingsmen in the Singing News Fan Awards.

  • Featured on the song “Wish You Were Here,” #1 on the Southern Gospel charts from May-Aug 1992 and Song of the Year in the 1992 Singing News Fan Awards.

  • Named Favorite Southern Gospel Musician in the 2004 and 2005 Singing News Fan Awards

  • Member of the Southern Gospel Hall of Fame as a member of the Kingsmen

  • Multiple IBMA award honors with Balsam Range


  • Squire Parsons (2 years) – playing bass, singing baritone

  • The Isaacs (6 years) – playing dobro and guitar

  • The Kingsmen (10 years) – singing lead and baritone and playing bass, acoustic and electric guitars, and dobro

  • Balsam Range – playing bass and dobro

Concert Highlights

Tim has performed live concerts with:

  • The Tony Rice Unit

  • Don Rigsby

  • J.D. Crowe

  • Paul Williams

  • Larry Cordle

  • Bobby Osborne

  • Dale Ann Bradley

  • Larry Sparks

  • The Primitive Quartet

  • Vince Gill

  • The Inspirations

  • Ronnie Bowman

  • Rhonda Vincent

  • Brad Paisley

  • Keith Urban

  • Bill Gaither Homecoming Series