The Glade City Rounders formed out of a love of old recordings of traditional southern string band, blues, and jug band music. Their music is strongly influenced by musicians from the state of Tennessee and the Tennessee River Valley region. This love of traditional Tennessee string band music will be right at home as they take the stage in one of “the oldest” venues in the state under the Cumberland Plateau on Saturday, June 17, 2017 at 1 pm CDT w. The Larry Stephenson Band.  Get your tickets here for this show.

We got the low down pre hoedown, talking with Josh Smith (guitar, banjo & jug) about all things old time, finding “new” old time tunes and much more! Check the full interview here below & then come hear them live on June 17th underground.

BGU: What album(s) would we most likely find playing in your stereo these days?

GCR: Cannon’s Jug Stompers is in my CD player in the truck right now.  Leon Redbone is on the record player at home, but I have also been on a hard Norman and Nancy Blake kick too.  Norman is one of my guitar heroes.  Other than that, anything old time like John Hartford, the Skillet Lickers, or Uncle Dave Macon and his Fruit Jar Drinkers.

BGU: Y’all don’t live around the corner from each other, how did the band meet?

GCR: We all live relatively close to each other.  I (Josh) live about 5 minutes from Squirrel, and we both live about 45 minutes from William.  Randy lives in Southern Illinois, but loves the Middle Tennessee area and the music from this area.  William (fiddle), Squirrel (banjo), and Josh (guitar) all met the first time at Breakin’ Up Winter, an old time event at Cedars of Lebanon State Park, many years ago.  I actually met William about an hour prior to meeting Squirrel.  We all had the same interests in music- we liked most anything old, especially if it was rooted in Tennessee.  William and I were in an old time band called the Gallinippers, led by banjo legend Buddy Ingram, and Squirrel was in an old time band called the Jimalong Josies.  Another cool fact is that all 4 band members play old time banjo, and started long before the band formed.  So we all have that in common too.

BGU: Bluegrass musicians attend a lot of “bluegrass festivals”, do you tend to attend more “fiddlers conventions” & “contests”? Can you tell us what some of the core differences are between the bluegrass & old time festival scenes?

GCR: Early on, we attended a lot of contests and fiddlers conventions.  We tried to play anywhere we could find an audience, and mostly focused on old time events.  In recent years, there has been a lot of interest from the Bluegrass world in old time music, so, in recent years we have been playing as many bluegrass festivals as old time festivals or fiddlers conventions.  The main difference is the music at these events.  The bluegrass festivals seem to focus more on straight forward bluegrass songs.  Sure, you will hear a song that falls under ‘old time’ at a bluegrass festival, but these tunes are still played in the style that Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys started all those years ago.  Old time music festivals are a little more eclectic as one might hear old time string band, jug band, country blues, folk, or other musical styles being played alongside each other.

BGU: As a musician, what are some tips you’d give yourself when you were first learning if you could back in time?

GCR: A tip that has helped me out is to practice every day.  If you’re tired of playing your instrument, listen to music, it’s an equally important part of learning and being a musician.  But plan to have practice time every day for at least an hour.  Another important tip would be about setting boundaries.  Never let any person, genre, or ‘unspoken rules’ tell you what to learn.   Play what interests you, practice hard, and do not let what people say discourage you.  Just because you want to learn old time banjo does not mean you should never listen to Earl Scruggs or Don Reno, and just because you are learning to flatpick guitar, does not mean you shouldn’t listen to fingerstyle players like Blind Blake and Reverend Gary Davis.

BGU: Who are the top five musical influences on The Glade City Rounders, if you had to choose today?

GCR: Our top 5 musical influences on the Glade City Rounders as a whole are: Uncle Dave Macon and his Fruit Jar Drinkers, Gus Cannon and his Jug Stompers, the Memphis Jug Band, the Skillet Lickers, and Buddy Ingram and the Gallinippers.

BGU: Who are your favorite young old time artists/bands we should all be on the lookout for right now?

GCR: There are a lot of great old time artists and bands out there today.  One of our favorites is Sheesham, Lotus, and Son.  Others include Foghorn Stringband, Dom Flemons, the Crow Quill Night Owls, Jerron ‘Blind Boy’ Paxton, and Uncle Shuffalo and his Haint Hallow Hootenanny. 

BGU: There are a lot of caves in Tennesse, have you guys ever performed in a cave? Does anyone in the band have any thoughts or fears about going into a cave to play music?

GCR: Josh has attended a show in the Volcano Room twice.  We are all very excited to play in this cool 55 degree room after playing in the heat the past couple weeks.  We just hope the lights do not go out while we’re all down there!

BGU: Where do you guys find new songs for the repertoire? Do you research and scour for old songs?

GCR: To find new songs, we do a lot of listening.  We mostly listen to old, scratchy recordings transferred from 78 records, and try to knock the dust off of these old songs, and play them with all the enthusiasm and musicianship as the artists original recordings, while still putting our own influence on the arrangement.

BGU: Are you writing new original material? If so how does it fit in with the older material?

GCR: While our focus is mostly on pre 1940 musical styles, we have been working on writing original music.  On our first album, William wrote the words to ‘Play the One Called Shavem’ Dry’ and we all worked out an arrangement.  That song is completely original.  At this time, we have a couple new ideas under our hat that will probably come to fruition in the coming months.   Writing a song that fits with the older material can pose some challenges, but we are looking forward to writing and recording more of our original material in the future.

BGU: You’re on a desert island with 1 Album: Tony Rice Unit or Tommy Jarrell? Why?

GCR: Wow, that’s a tough question for me (Josh) because I really do love both of these artists.  I know the rest of the guys in the band would likely answer Tommy Jarrell.  I started out playing bluegrass, so Tony Rice was a huge influence on me, and I must have worn out all of his albums.  About 15 years ago, when I started to become interested in Old time music, Tommy Jarrell was one of the first artists that I found and with whom I fell in love.  So, I would probably have to say Tommy Jarrell on behalf of the group.  His playing still mesmerizes me to this day.