Bluegrass veterans and longtime friends Kipper Stitt (co-founder of Pine Mountain Railroad) and Jerry Butler (formerly with Pine Mountain Railroad, Carolina Road, and The Blu-J's) have reunited to form the new group, “Kip & Jerry's Rocky Road Show." At the Roscoe Canaday Bluegrass Festival in Waldo, FL two weeks ago, both Jerry and Kipper were very upbeat about this new venture. Each man brings deep and broad musical experience to the venture, neither entering into this partnership unaware of the demands and difficulties involved in forming a new band. They bring a large catalog of familiar material from bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and classic country music to the group they are forming as well as promising to add new songs from a variety of sources.
An extremely knowledgeable friend of mine said, "Jerry Butler has improved every band he's joined, and none was as high quality after he left it." Jerry has a low key, friendly approach to his audience as an emcee, and his singing reflects the same quality. As a mimic of Lester Flatt's voice he has few peers, and his rendition of "Backing All the Way to Birmingham" is a classic. He includes plenty of gospel singing in his performances, particularly elements featuring the importance of family. Many of his fans look forward to his presentation of classic country songs, especially those of George Jones and Merle Haggard. He's a solid all-around performer with lots of versatility in song choice. Jerry has received recognition through awards and nominations at IBMA & SPBGMA and appeared regularly on television and radio, as well as being a featured performer on a number of cruises.
Kipper Stitt has long been a staple of banjo excellence in the Knoxville area. He was a co-founder of Pine Mountain Railroad, which was named California Emerging Artist of the Year in 1998 and twice nominated for the same award at IBMA. He received recognition as a contest banjo player in a number of events, toured with Marty Raybon, and recorded banjo sessions on a number of charted recordings. At Waldo I was particularly impressed with the versatility and taste represented by Kipper's work. He's an excellent Scruggs style picker who adds significantly with his very fine melodic riffs. He tastefully used the banjo head for percussive effect both with his picks, and, on one song, with very quiet brush work. He turns the banjo into a versatile instrument while also adding first rate harmony to the band.
Other members of Kip & Jerry's Rocky Road Show remain to be announced. The band is seeking additional dates for the remainder of 2015 and 2016. Contact Jerry Butler for further information at:
PO Box 5817, Knoxville, TN 37928
I very much enjoyed seeing this new combination playing at Waldo, and look forward to future appearances by them in the near future.