Gary Trivette grew up playing bluegrass and gospel in a musical family, and he has been performing professionally for decades, including with The Trivette Family, Southern Accent, Surefire, Carolina Crossing, ClayBank, and – most recently – Nick Chandler and Delivered. A solid bass player and strong harmony singer, Gary has been a coveted on-call sideman for a number of bluegrass and gospel groups in western North Carolina.
Gary Trivette was born and raised in Watauga County in a large family. As one of 11 children in the family, Gary says there might not have been a lot of money, but there was a lot of love and a lot of music. Gary’s father was a bluegrass musician who played in a local band, and Gary has fond memories of listening to his father play. Gary’s dad also turned him on to a lot of the bluegrass recordings of the 1970s, including one by the Country Gentlemen which was particularly influential.
Gary and his siblings were drawn to music. He and his sister, Connie, acquired a saxophone and clarinet as kids, and Gary remembers trying to learn bluegrass melodies on the instruments. “I was playing ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ on a horn,” Gary recalls.
Gary’s father bought an inexpensive banjo and challenged his two children, promising to buy a new instrument for the one who learned to play it. Connie learned some technique from the Earl Scruggs instructional book and helped Gary get started. “I ended up playing better than her and got the new banjo – a Gibson Mastertone that I still have and play,” Gary says.
As a high school student, Gary traveled and performed with his family in The Trivette Family band. He had a strong ear and learned most of his music by listening. In addition to playing in the family band, Gary got together with school friends Paul Buchanan, Steve Lewis, and Ronnie Moretz to form the bluegrass band Sweet Water.
Gary got married in 1983 and stopped playing professionally to allow time to start his business as an electrician. By the end of the decade, Gary got together with church friends Dennis and Paulette Isaacs, who were forming the bluegrass gospel group Southern Accent. Gary acquired a bass and joined the group, along with his sister, Connie. Gary later changed to banjo when the original player, Ronnie Hicks, left the group, and Gary played banjo in the band for the next 15 years, playing up and down the east coast from Florida to New York. The group recorded five albums over that time, and Gary remembers it as a favorite time in his musical career.
Over the next few years, Gary played with a number of northwest North Carolina bluegrass groups, including Surefire, Amantha Mill, and Carolina Crossing, before forming ClayBank with Tyler Thompson, Zack Arnold, and Jacob Greer. ClayBank signed a record contract and hit the road, playing gigs across the country and recording an album. Gary played bass and sang with ClayBank for a couple years before returning home to Watauga County. Most recently, Gary was hired to play bass and sing with Nick Chandler and Delivered. Gary is also an integral part of the Red White & Bluegrass jam, a bi-monthly bluegrass jam session that has taken place around Watauga County over the past decade.