Jeff started playing guitar at the age of 9 and it didn’t take long before he was a part of his fathers Bluegrass band, The Corncobs. He took up playing bass not long after, and at first he had to stand on a milk crate to reach the fingerboard. At the age of 13 he started playing lead guitar in a rock and roll band. It wasn’t long until he went back to his roots and his true love, Bluegrass. He had taken up mandolin and fiddle in the meantime, but found his true love when he started playing banjo some 20 years ago. He has played in bands such as: The Millcreek Bluegrass Band, The Mike Dillard Band, Billy Lee Cox and the Mason Dixon grass, Sunnyside, and now The Blades of Grass.
His influences come from many sources, Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Eddie Adcock and Sammy Shelor, to name a few. He gives a lot of credit to Billy Lee Cox for showing him several licks from his arsenal of banjo knowledge.
Jeff believes that vocals are the key to true Bluegrass music, and puts his heart and soul into his lead, tenor, and baritone vocal parts.
Mike Dillard is no stranger to the Bluegrass community. Born and raised in West Jefferson, North Carolina, he started playing the guitar in his early twenties. He eventually moved to Pennsylvania and joined a band called The Wings of Bluegrass. The band toured all over the East coast in the 80`s. He has also been a member of several bands including Plain and Fancy, The Stanleytones and The Mike Dillard Band. Mike has many musical influences, including The Stanley Brothers, Reno and Smiley, Jimmy Martin, Merle Haggard and Dave Evans. Mike not only plays guitar, bass and mandolin, but is a talented songwriter as well. He has penned several songs for the nationally touring band The Bluegrass Brothers. He joined The Blades of Grass in 2011. Mike enjoys Bluegrass festivals, spending time with his family, collecting record albums, landscaping, gardening and writing and practicing new songs. He loves Bluegrass because the friends he has made, are the best people in the world.
Jeff Dillard is new to the Bluegrass musician community, but he has been a fan bluegrass music since he was a tiny boy. He has traveled to many Bluegrass festivals with his family and lists his dad, Mike Dillard, as one of his biggest musical influences. It was his dad that introduced him to the Stanley sound. Jeff has several favorite singers, including the late Carter Stanley, Sammy Adkins, Larry Sparks and Roy Lee Centers. When Jeff isn’t playing the upright bass, you can find him hanging out with his friends at his favorite fishing hole.
Although a native of Cecil County Maryland, Kevin is deeply rooted in West Virginia and Bluegrass music. There was always music in his family in some form or fashion growing up. Kevin’s mother, grandmother and aunt all played piano fluently by ear. His father plays harmonica and always had various stringed instruments setting around to pick on. His brother plays guitar and bass. Somehow all of this instrumentation would frequently get played during family gatherings and everyone would sing.
Kevin’s first experience with playing and singing was at an early age when his mother taught him how to play organ and sing vocal harmonies. Typically on gospel tunes. “It’s just something you have to hear” she’d always say. Later, Kevin was drawn to stringed instruments learning some basic guitar and mandolin chords from his father and brother. His father bought him his first guitar and mandolin. Kevin’s brother and friends would get together on a regular basis but needed a mandolin player. Kevin set out to fill the spot. “There was always bluegrass in the air.” And Kevin immersed himself in it by setting in with the guys and gals to learn how to play and sing.
Over the years Kevin spent endless enjoyable hours picking and singing bluegrass and old time country tunes with his brother and friends. He credits a lot of his learning and love for the mandolin to the late Bluegrass fiddlers Benny Mc Roberts and Jerry Lundy. Kevin would occasionally go to local Bluegrass festivals with friends and fellow pickers. He met a lot of great folks at festivals but a new venture began for him when he met Jeff Blevins at the Delaware Valley Festival. Kevin and Jeff met and did some jamming together. Within a few months, Kevin received a phone call from Jeff inquiring if he’d be interested in being part of a band. Gladly accepting. Before long, The Blades of Grass was formed. Kevin quotes, “there have been quite a few ups and downs over the last several years but I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Thriving to be a good band is a lot of hard work. I have learned more about music than I had ever imagined during my time with this group. Bluegrass music is a tradition in my family and I intend on carrying it out as long as I am able. I look forward to many more years of bringing Bluegrass and old time country music to folks through the collaborations of The Blades of Grass.