The Whitewater Bluegrass Company has been described by a local music writer as “a veteran crew of WNC-mountain natives, playing in a seriously top-notch bluegrass outfit” (Stuart Gaines, Mountain Xpress, 1/5/05). Formed in 1982, Whitewater Bluegrass Company specializes in “bluegrass music and big mountain circle square dance,” says guitarist Bill Byerly, “with an emphasis on audience participation.” They do a “bluegrass music show featuring traditional and current forms of music, with skits and stories thrown in . . . with a third-generation square dance caller (Ted White),” a Grammy-nominated, IBMA Award-winning banjo player (Steve Sutton), and several other first-rate musicians.
Bill Byerly, an Asheville native who learned music from local musicians and the bluegrass stars of his youth, is the lead singer as well as guitarist. Bass player Ted White, born in Spartanburg and a longtime North Carolina mountain resident, also tells stories, does Opry-style country comedy routines, and calls square dances. Mandolinist Dave Pendley played for a decade with the bluegrass band Ric-O-Chet. Fiddler Gary Mackey is a two-time Georgia state fiddle champion, and has recorded with the likes of Dolly Parton. Banjo player Steve Sutton has worked with Raymond Fairchild, Jimmy Martin, Rhonda Vincent, and Alecia Nugent.
Ted White describes Whitewater Bluegrass Company as a “blue-collar working band,” whose “meat-and-potatoes is the dance circuit.” In addition to the many dances they play each year, the band frequently performs in concert and at festivals, and plays regularly at Asheville’s Four Points Sheraton. They have been the host band for the Smoky Mountain Folk Festival for over a decade.
The Whitewater Bluegrass Company is available for concerts, dances, and festival appearances.