Combining the musical styles of the Father of Bluegrass with the Okie from Muskogee is an exciting proposition. Feeling that Bluegrass and Traditional Country music is America’s music, the stories of the common man and the sounds of the mountains, Tim Raybon and Daniel Grindstaff have formed the new band Merle Monroe.
With the goal of choosing songs that relate to everyday life and go “back to the country,” Merle Monroe hopes to take your mind away from today’s current distractions on their new self-titled project for Pinecastle Records. They have worked extremely hard looking for and writing songs they feel will be different, yet still reflect their heroes’ music from years past.
Tim and Daniel first met in the mid 2000’s when Daniel was performing with Marty Raybon at IBMA Fan Fest. They had only a short time to rehearse before they performed their set, but Tim will always remember his first impression of Daniel: “He was the best banjo player I had ever heard and an adamant professional.” Daniel recalls that since first hearing Tim Raybon, “I have held his vocal abilities as being one of the best-kept secrets in the music business.” From the beginning they held a common bond in their love of the Osborne Brothers, Jim and Jesse, and Bill Monroe; they hit it off and have remained friends ever since.
Supported by career experiences that range from various TV and festival appearances to studio recordings to the stage of the Opry, Daniel Grindstaff and Tim Raybon have teamed up to create one of the best sounds to emerge on the bluegrass and country scene in years as the band Merle Monroe. Supported by the pristine talents of Derek Deakins, Josh Doss and Eli Johnston, their debut album “Back to the Country” on Pinecastle Records has been widely received as one of the best releases in many years!
Tim Raybon has a natural vocal ability that has been described as “real” – so real that it needs no electronic masking of any sort.
Tim's musical trek began with his dad and brothers in the family band The American Bluegrass Express when Tim was only eleven. Based in Florida, the band met with great success throughout the South and afforded Tim the opportunity to sharpen his skills by playing festivals and concerts that were shared by some of the greatest legends in Bluegrass music. Tim will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have played with the likes of Bill Monroe, the McReynolds, and the Osbornes.
Tim’s talent would soon be recognized far beyond his Florida home as the lead singer for one of the hottest nightclubs in the country, The Barn. Tim fronted many shows that featured the premier acts in Country music. From there he moved on to Nashville and began a career as a demo singer singing newly written songs many of which would eventually become the latest hit for the biggest stars in Nashville.
1997 brought a musical reunion to Tim and his brother Marty that produced the certified gold hit “Butterfly Kisses.” That same year the Raybon Brothers were nominated for the CMA Duo of the Year.
Daniel Grindstaff, born and raised in Elizabethton, Tennessee, is considered to be among the elite of banjo players.
Beginning his musical career at the age of 18, Daniel played the Grand Ole Opry with Jim and Jesse McReynolds; by the time he was 21, he was also joining the Osborne brothers on stage. In the fall of 2006, Daniel was touring with Marty Raybon and remained a significant contributor to Raybon’s studio recordings and concerts for the next five years.
“April’s Fool,” released in 2007, was a well-received studio album from Grindstaff that included a plethora of well-respected contributing musicians.
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.
“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
About the band
Eli Johnston is a multi-instrumental, vocalist and song writing talent hailing from Southwest Missouri. As part of the Merle Monroe band Eli provides rock solid bass playing, lead vocals, harmony vocals and pristine song writing. In recent years Eli’s singing and songwriting gained national attention while traveling with legendary Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. Eli left a busy touring schedule to spend more time at home with his wife Keasley and son Huxley in the Smoky Mountains where he is a regular performer at many of the popular music venues.
An accomplished songwriter, Eli is known for penning the popular songs "Captain" and "So Far" that have been recorded by several national touring bands.
In his own words “What an honor it is to be a part of the Merle Monroe team! I am truly looking forward to their powerhouse singing and picking. It’s also going to be great to see all of my friends and music fans again!” The feeling is mutual for band leaders Tim Raybon and Daniel Grindstaff- “We are proud to have Eli Johnston join the Merle Monroe Band. Eli is a great singer, songwriter and bass player. Eli is beloved by the bluegrass and gospel world and we are honored for him to be a featured part of our stage shows”.