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.
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.