The freshly launched Tennessee Bluegrass Band is comprised of five talented players who came to know one another in a variety of ways. Aynsley Porchak and Lincoln Hensley went to school together through the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program. John Meador and Hensley have played gigs together although they performed with separate bands, (John with Kentucky Just Us and Lincoln with the Price Sisters), and Meador is married to Gracie Meador. Tim Laughlin and Hensley knew one another through local performances and jams.
Now, the gifted quintet has come together with a singular musical vision, and has chosen to sign with Nashville’s Billy Blue Records.
“They captured my attention with the very first note from John Meador’s mouth,” says Jerry Salley, Creative and A&R Director, Billy Blue Records. “I love great singers, and this young man has a God-given gift to deliver a song. Then, add my friend, Aynsley Porchak, easily one of the greatest new fiddlers to command a presence on the collective bluegrass stage in recent memory; Sonny Osborne’s banjo protégé Lincoln Hensley; Gracie Meador’s beautiful harmony vocals and solid bass playing; and veteran Tim Laughlin’s dependable, ‘Lawson-esque’ mandolin style, and it all adds up to precisely the kind of talent we seek to support and present to the world. Tennessee Bluegrass Band had its choice of record labels. They chose Billy Blue, and our team is honored to work with them. We’re excited about their future, and together, we look forward to releasing a stellar debut album very soon!”
Lincoln Hensley is a devout enthusiast of the Earl Scruggs and Sonny Osborne style of banjo playing and has regularly studied under Sonny. Lincoln and Sonny are also in a partnership in their own banjo company, KRAKO Banjos. Lincoln has played the Grand Ole Opry on several occasions with Bobby Osborne and his band, The Rocky Top X-press, and has worked with and filled in with numerous touring bands in the past few years.
Tim Laughlin grew up in Bristol, Virginia on the historical Crooked Road Highway. He has become a sought-after sideman in the bluegrass music industry, and has performed with musicians such as Larry Sparks, the McPeak Brothers, the Lynn Morris Band, Jeanette Williams, Dale Ann Bradley, Marty Raybon, and most recently, Big Country. Tim brings his solid harmony vocals and creative mandolin playing to the Tennessee Bluegrass Band.
John Meador lives in the mountains of East Tennessee and is married to vocalist and bass player, Gracie Meador. John started playing as a young teenager with the band Kentucky Just Us and later attended the Kentucky School of Bluegrass and Traditional Music. John brings his smooth, clear singing and guitar playing to the Tennessee Bluegrass Band. Gracie was raised in rural Minnesota playing music with her family, The Hainings. The family band traveled all over the mid- and southwest, and moved to Branson, MO in 2011. Gracie and John met in 2018 sitting next to each other at a bluegrass jam, and were married in the fall of 2020. In addition to playing bass, Gracie provides high, sweet harmony vocals.
Aynsley Porchak began playing fiddle at the age of 9. She was introduced to bluegrass in her early teens, and quickly fell in love with the music. In order to further hone her craft, Aynsley enrolled in East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies degree program in 2013. She graduated in 2017 with an additional bachelor’s degree in English, and completed her master’s degree in Appalachian Studies in 2020. Aynsley is also an experienced contest fiddler. She won the Grand Master Fiddler Championship in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, and in 2017, she also became the Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Champion, making her the first person to win both competitions. She has played on the Grand Ole Opry. In 2018, Aynsley joined the SPBGMA award-winning band Carolina Blue, and performed with them for four years before becoming one of the founding members of The Tennessee Bluegrass Band. She also received the 2018 IBMA Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year award.
“This is a group that I’m very pleased to be a part of,” Porchak says. “With the combination of powerful vocals and exciting instrumental arrangements, the band is formed with powerhouse musicians who have undeniable artistic chemistry. It’s an honor and a privilege to make music with these people, and we’re excited to share our spin on traditional bluegrass, something we like to call, ‘the future of the past!’”
This exciting new group is cooking up a recipe for original music with a traditional bluegrass flavor. They also enjoy spicing things up with a few tasty covers stirred up Tennessee Bluegrass Band style. Like, follow and learn more about Tennessee Bluegrass Band:
• Facebook – The Tennessee Bluegrass Band (@tennesseebgb)
• Instagram – @tennesseebgb
Along with Jerry Salley, Creative and A&R Director of Billy Blue Records, the group is making plans for a debut album for release in early 2022.