IIIrd Tyme Out’s First “Tyme” In At Bluegrass Spartanburg

by Laura Clare Thevenet

A two note lead in from the banjo starts a familiar conversation. A smiling Russell Moore comes into frame with the rest of the band. They all exchange knowing looks of contentment during the intro as if the song is like coming home after a long day.

Musicians are often the best multitaskers. During a performance, they can take on any number of roles including conversationalist, storyteller, dancer, painter, and confidant. Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out is one of the few bands that achieves all of this in just a few short minutes.

“Almost heaven.” Just two simple words paint a vibrant picture for John Denver’s classic “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” The band’s warm harmonies blend into one voice, becoming the paint brush that creates a summery, landscape of the country. Suddenly, the air becomes thick with humidity and a winding gravel and dirt road unfolds before you.

Each musician uses their instrument to add to the picture. The guitar sits at the heart of the scene and acts as the road map and driving force. Without it, you would not be able to notice the beauty that surrounds it. The persistent thud of the bass stretches the expanse of the road, leading homeward. The twang of the banjo pushes its way forward and is reminiscent of the gravel crunching softly beneath you. The sweet trill of the mandolin gently becomes a babbling brook nestled along the road that is compelled by the fiddle gliding over the surface like a warm, comforting breeze.

Every member of the band is essential in ensuring that the story flows smoothly for the audience. Their lineup consists of Russell Moore on guitar and lead vocals, Wayne Benson on mandolin, Keith McKinnon on banjo and vocals, Dustin Pyrtle on bass and vocals, and Nathan Aldridge on fiddle.

...They were one of my favorite groups, growing up, and still are to this day.
— Kristen Scott Benson, The Grascals

By the time he formed IIIrd Tyme Out, frontman Russell Moore was no stranger to the bluegrass stage. He began playing at age 11, and by the time he was 15, he was performing at concerts and festivals around his home state of Texas. After forming his first band Southern Connection, opportunity presented itself and Moore was called to join legendary band Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in 1985. Moore was then propelled into the spotlight, quickly becoming an established and celebrated bluegrass vocalist. He recorded roughly six albums with the band before he felt called to make his own mark on the bluegrass world and formed IIIrd Tyme Out in 1991.

Kristen Scott Benson, Grascals banjo player and Bluegrass Spartanburg Committee Member, recalls the influence Moore’s music made on her as a young musician; “I got excited about bluegrass when I was a little girl and saw the band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, in Dahlonega, GA at a bluegrass festival. Russell Moore was the lead singer. By the time I got a banjo and started playing, he had started his own band, IIIrd Tyme Out.  They were one of my favorite groups, growing up, and still are to this day."


Today, with their perfectly blended harmonies and gospel-inspired sound, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out can easily be called a bluegrass vocal powerhouse. They have received over 50 music industry awards including International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Best Vocalist five times and Vocal Group of the Year seven times.

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out will headline as the season opener of Bluegrass Spartanburg’s showstopping third season presented by the Spartanburg Philharmonic. Moore expresses the band’s excitement to play Bluegrass Spartanburg’s stage for the first time.

 “We've heard great things about the concert series and are honored to be part of it. Plus, our mandolin player, Wayne Benson, and his family live in Boiling Springs, so anytime we have an opportunity to perform near one of our homes, it provides a chance for close by family and friends to join us for an evening of music that they might not get to otherwise.”

 Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out transforms a performance space into a creative playground for audience members, allowing them to visualize their own interpretation of the music. Their infectious, gospel-inspired vocals embrace listeners with a sense of familiarity. On September 19th, join us in the Chapman Cultural Center, and allow yourself to be swept away in the storytelling.

 Learn more about concert and purchase tickets HERE.

Laura Clare Thevenet is the Communications Coordinator for the Spartanburg Philharmonic. In addition to her work at the Philharmonic, Laura-Clare has studied guitar and voice for 10 years and is a freelance musician and singer-songwriter.

Laura-Clare Thevenet
Women in Music: A Brave New World?

By Carrie Leigh Page

“Unfortunately the work of a woman composer is preconceived by many to be light, froth, lacking in depth, logic and virility…” – Florence Price to Sergei Koussevitsky, 1943

“She plays like a man.” – Carl Zelert to Goethe, regarding Fanny Mendelssohn, 1831

Two women, over a hundred years apart, struggled to be heard and to be accepted as part of a canon that was unwaveringly old, white, and male. As Florence Price insinuates, the accidents of birth influence perception, judgment, and opportunity. Most of Fanny Mendelssohn’s compositions were published under the name of her famous brother, Felix. No critics noted a difference between the works of the good Hausfrau and her male sibling. How much of it would have been immediately discounted, though, if the real author had been known?

When I first came to Spartanburg as a music student at Converse College, I had thought very little about women composers, or composition at all. My life took a significant turn in my freshman year, though: In the midst of a personal crisis, none of the music I was performing or studying seemed to say the things I wanted to say. I began to struggle with the muses of composition. Over the years, I was privileged to have masterclasses with a few women composers and even study with a fellow female composer for a semester, but I rarely heard music by women performed live or even on the radio. There were no examples from music literature by women in my music theory textbooks, and maybe a handful of women composers mentioned in my music history texts. I felt rather like a member of an endangered species.

In 2010, one of my works was selected for the annual concert of the International Alliance for Women in Music. I traveled to France for the concert and was enveloped for three days in the camaraderie of women composers. I suddenly realized I was not an endangered species. These were women from many countries, working in diverse schools of compositional thought as students, teachers, and freelancers, and they were but a small sample of the women composing all over the world. I returned home and perused my local symphony’s season and abruptly dropped back into reality. There were no works by women that year. Or the next year. Or the next.

In a 1991 article for the New York Times, critic Edward Rothstein stated that “the lack of significant women composers is a historical fact that will not be changed by invoking percentage points.” He said this in response to a complaint by award-winning composer Joan Tower bemoaning this very lack of women composers in concert halls and textbooks.

27 years after Tower’s lament and Rothstein’s obtuse summation, there has been fundamentally little change in our concerts halls and classrooms. A Baltimore Symphony Orchestra report by Ricky O’Bannon showed the representation of women composers in major concert halls around the USA to be around 1.3% during the 2016-2017 season, and only 10% of the works by living composers were by women. My own survey of three of the most popular theory textbooks in 2016 showed that there were NO musical examples female composers in the sections on music since 1900, and only scant references to female composers in other sections.

Thousands of women across many hundreds of years still struggle to be heard. The fact is, women have been working in these musical canons alongside men all along. Suor Leonora D’Este’s madrigals and Francesca Caccini’s Ruggiero do not detract from the accomplishments of the Gesualdo or Monteverdi; they enrich our understanding of early Baroque. The records of the multitalented Clora Bryant and Ginger Smock do not take anything from Dizzy or Bird. Julia Amanda Perry’s Stabat Mater more than holds up to those by Vivaldi, Poulenc, and Szymanowski and deserves regular programming in sacred concerts.

Curators who commit to increasing gender parity in their musical programming find that there is a world of exciting “new” literature from every time period, in every genre, that can be found by including women. For those of you who think you have never heard music by women composers, I invite you to embrace a beautiful, brave, “new” world. 

Carrie Leigh Page creates music for chamber ensembles, orchestra, and electronic media, with a special emphasis on vocal writing. Page has taught at colleges and schools throughout the United States. She currently teaches K-12 music at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind. She lives in Spartanburg with her daughter and husband, fellow composer Nicholas Alexander Drake.

Keyana Hammonds