Americana Roots highlights the freshest and most original Americana and bluegrass from across the pond in the US. It covers everything from brand-new, just out of the box bands, to cult favourites, to established acts who have yet to reach the UK’s shores. The Jon Stickley Trio, an acoustic-trio from North Carolina, delivers an inventive approach to bluegrass disguised with musical experimentation that straddles the chasm between the traditional and the progressive with a powerful grace.
Name: Jon Stickley Trio
For Fans Of: Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, New Grass Revival
Hometown: Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Band Members: Jon Stickley (guitar), Lyndsay Pruett (fiddle), Hunter Deacon (drums)
Discography: ‘Jon Stickley Trio’ (2012), ‘Triangular’ EP (2016), ‘Lost at Last’ (2015), ‘Maybe Believe’ (2017), ‘Scripting the Flip’ (2020)
Background: “I think what it comes to is that it is all Folk music. It’s music for the people. It’s a sound, but it’s also a community and a way of life,” explains guitarist Jon Stickley, of the Jon Stickley Trio, about the explosion of roots-based music. “Success of bands like Mumford & Sons, and The Avett Brothers proved that mass audiences were really receptive to the sound of banjo and fiddle. I think people are drawn to it like they are drawn to Jazz, because they realize it is a very serious art-form, with very deep roots. It’s fairly easy to learn how to play, but virtually impossible to master.”
For Stickley he is closer to mastering that sound with most, with his innovative, flat-picking style that easily melds genres into a hard to define sound that is continually breaking new ground. Stickley first cut his teeth and honed his unique style as part of a college scene in North Carolina that would produce future members of Leftover Salmon, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Mandolin Orange, Town Mountain and many more. He would also log time in the short-lived, but seminal Broke Mountain Bluegrass Band that featured Andy Thorn from Leftover Salmon, Travis Book from the Infamous Stringdusters, Anders Back from Greensky Bluegrass, and mandolin-wizard Robin Davis. Following the dissolution of Broke Mountain, Stickley played bass with Town Mountain, but knew he wanted to get back to playing guitar.
Stickley began organizing shows when home from tour-dates with Town Mountain with local musicians. He soon met fiddler Lyndsay Pruett and the two clicked instantly. The pair bonded over local gigs and late-night picking parties and decided to start their own band. “After some experimentation,” says Stickley, “we really started having fun playing with a drummer. After a few different drummers, four albums, and a lot of touring, we landed on Hunter Deacon who rounds out our current lineup.”
The addition of Deacon solidified the experimental sound of the Jon Stickley Trio that has bluegrass at its core, but trends into otherworldly, sonic realms. This growth, experimentation, and development of the band’s bluegrass-inspired progressive approach is best exemplified on their latest album, 2020’s ‘Scripting the Flip’, a high-octane, musical adventure that dips and dives through classic fiddle runs and explosively charged flat-picking guitar, backed by a pulsating funk drum, that still stays true to the band’s bluegrass roots.
“Since the Trio is such an atypical instrumental band, we are able to incorporate pretty much any musical ideas we want, without having to ascribe to a certain sound or genre. We experiment a lot,” explains Stickley. “We embrace some elements of music that are very non-bluegrass, and we hope that those elements may be able to grab a listener’s attention and draw them in before they realize that what they are listening to is actually very bluegrass.”
What They Sound Like: