“Real” is a word that comes to mind when a listener first hears Tim Raybon sing. A real talent with a real vocal ability which is natural and not masked by any smoke or mirrors. Tim’s musical journey began at the young age of 11 with his dad and brothers in their family band “The American Bluegrass Express” based out of Florida. With their success in the southern states, Tim and his family honed their skills playing festivals and stages alongside the most respected acts in bluegrass. The ability to learn first-hand from legends such as Bill Monroe, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, and the Osborne Brothers is a gift for which Tim will forever be grateful.
The pure talent of Tim Raybon and his brother, Marty, would soon be recognized far beyond their Florida home. Marty, of course, went on to front a very successful band: the country music supergroup, Shenandoah. Not long after, Tim became the lead singer for one of the hottest night clubs in the country, The Barn. Many notable artists were part of the shows that Tim fronted at this venue, including a young artist by the name of Garth Brooks. With his music career on the rise, Tim made the move to Music City. In Nashville, Tim began a career as a demo singer, singing newly written songs, many of which would go on to become the next popular radio hit for artists such as Alan Jackson and George Strait.
Career highlights: Starting in Nashville, TN in 1994, Tim fronted one of the largest country music shows in Tokyo, Japan: a production put on by none other than Disneyland. 1997 found Tim reunited with his brother Marty as “The Raybon Brothers.” Recording an album for MCA records, Tim and Marty scored a certified Gold record for the ever-popular song “Butterfly Kisses.” That same year, Tim recorded alongside the legendary Olivia Newton-John and was also nominated for the CMA Country Duo of the Year.
Tim has been featured worldwide on the Ralph Emory Show, Prime Time Country, KET’s production of Jubilee, and the most significant stage in country music: the world-famous Grand Ole Opry. Throughout his career, Tim Raybon has played on thousands of stages all over the world, bringing his style of singing to countless fans of country, bluegrass and gospel music. As Tim embarks on his next musical journey creating the band MerleMonroe, with longtime friend and accomplished banjo man Daniel Grindstaff, time will tell what career accomplishments are ahead. But, rest assured the highlight for the listener and the audience will always be hearing a man sing with the gift of pure talent singing songs that relate to real life.
Daniel Grindstaff is an accomplished musician who is considered to be among the elite of today’s banjo players. Born and raised in Elizabethton, Tennessee, he has traveled all over the United States and Canada with some of the best in bluegrass, acoustic, and country music. Daniel began his professional music career at the young age of 18, performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee, with bluegrass legends Jim and Jesse McReynolds. At the age of 21, Daniel was not only performing with McReynolds but had also been called upon to take the stage with the legendary Osborne Brothers, longtime members of the Grand Ole Opry and best known for their familiar hit and Tennessee state song “Rocky Top.”
In the fall of 2006, Daniel began touring with Grammy Award winning artist, Marty Raybon. For the next five years Daniel remained an important part of Raybon’s studio recordings and concerts.
2007 brought about the release of a well-received studio album from Grindstaff entitled “April’s Fool,” which included Grand Ole Opry members Jesse McReynolds, Sonny Osborne, and Bobby Osborne; ace Nashville bass player, Kent "Superman" Blanton; award winning mandolin player, Adam Steffy; and legendary fiddlers Buddy Spicher and Steve Thomas.
With a musical career that covers hundreds of appearances on the coveted stage of the Grand Ole Opry, national television’s Fox News morning show “Fox & Friends,” Smithsonian Folklife Festival, CMA Music Fest in Nashville, hundreds of live concerts, and many studio recordings, Daniel Grindstaff’s musical career and accomplishments speak for themselves. Building on the past accomplishments, Grindstaff has teamed up with the pristine vocals of Tim Raybon to create one of the best sounds to hit the bluegrass and acoustic country scene in many years with the band “MerleMonroe”.
“Among our finest young banjoists, East Tennessee’s Daniel Grindstaff looks to the past for his inspiration but brings personality and a fresh approach to bluegrass. He’s popping the strings one moment, coaxing out an emotive turn the next. Grindstaff demonstrates that he’s a player of determination and character.” -Bluegrass Now Magazine- November 2007
Jayd Raines is a lifelong Eastern Kentucky native. Surrounded by music growing up, it didn't take long for him to develop an interest in learning an instrument, with his first being the banjo and then learning the bass and guitar. Over the last several years, music fans have likely seen Jayd on tour with several award-winning acts including Marty Raybon, Don Rigsby and Ralph Stanley II.
Both Tim and Daniel were very familiar with the talent Jayd would bring to the band and credits Jayd for being a talented musician and vocalist- “Jayd and myself had sang harmony parts for several years while out on tour with Tim’s brother Marty. I knew that Jayd could play and sing the parts we need to make Merle Monroe what Tim and myself envisioned, so naturally he was one of the first phone calls. Tim has said many times this band is centered around vocals, and all of us involved believe that. We have been friends for many years now and I’m proud to be creating music with Jayd in this setting”.
Jayd is enthusiastic to join good friends in the creation of Merle Monroe and looks forward to where this musical journey will lead. Continuing to make his home in the Bluegrass state of Kentucky, Jayd resides in Morehead with his wife and two children, and when not playing music works as a wildlife educator and biologist.
Derek Deakins IS Originally from Kingsport, Tennessee, Derek's musical journey began with Suzuki violin lessons at the age of five and has taken him all around the world as a professional musician. Derek has performed in several foreign countries and all over the United States in venues ranging from Madison Square Garden to the World-Famous Grand Ole Opry.
Derek graduated from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, with a Bachelor of Music degree in Instrumental Music Education and holds a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting from East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
While living in Nashville, Derek performed with major recording artists such as Bluegrass Legends the Osborne Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Charlie Daniels, Craig Morgan, Tracy Byrd, Andy Griggs, Neil McCoy, and Blake Shelton. His national television appearances include Grand Ole Opry Live, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, The Jimmy Kimmell Show, and Late Night with Craig Ferguson.
Derek has recorded and produced four professional albums, titled "If I Could Give the World," "The Fiddle, Bluegrass, and Me," "Double Fiddle Time," and "Where We Belong," as part of the Gravel Road Acoustic Trio.
Most recently, Derek has joined Merle Monroe, the latest band signed to Pinecastle Records. This transpired through the friendship of Derek and Daniel Grindstaff, who are both from Eastern Tennessee and have performed together on many occasions throughout their musical careers, including the Grand Ole Opry with the Osborne Brothers. In Daniel’s words- “When the band was being put together I had thought of Derek and decided to give him a call, I was delighted when he told me he was interested in what we are doing. I have been familiar with Derek’s fiddling for many years, as we are both from eastern Tennessee. Derek has been a very close and good friend to me for many years. I don’t know that I could have found a better addition to what we are doing, and I look forward to folks hearing Derek fiddling in this setting, as he will be featured throughout our show.”