They were born in Ontario, Canada, raised in Nova Scotia and got their first taste of bluegrass music in their fathers pickup truck in the mountains of British Columbia.
But now, things are really getting interesting for the two Spinney Brothers and their two other bad members. After they were signed by a record label last year, the title song of their new album, Memories, has cracked the Billboard bluegrass music charts. On Friday, as part of its latest tour, the band will stop in Lowville as one of the featured acts of the seventh annual Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival, held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The band performs at 2:45 and 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Its our first charted song, Rick Spinney said of Memories last week from his home in the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. Things are really rolling along nicely.
Nova Scotia, Mr. Spinney said, has a rich heritage of bluegrass. The Spinney family moved there when he was 3. His brother, Allan, is a year older.
Music here has a rich flavoring in acoustic and Celtic music, Mr. Spinney said.
He explained that about 40 years ago, bluegrass legends like Bill Monroe and Joe Val and his New England Bluegrass Boys began touring Nova Scotia.
And all it takes, typically in bluegrass music, is for a couple of people to get bit by the bluegrass bug, Mr. Spinney said. That happened here. A couple of folks that really enjoyed the music started a bluegrass festival.
The Nova Scotia Bluegrass Festival, Mr. Spinney said, has become the longest-running bluegrass festival in Canada.
Mr. Spinney didnt pick up a banjo until he was 21. He decided to do so after he came back from British Columbia, where he and his brother moved to for a while to live with their father. Both got jobs as loggers with their dad.
It was quite an eye-opener for a change of lifestyle, Mr. Spinney said. Dad had some old bluegrass tapes in his pickup truck. That was really where we got that sense of what bluegrass music was. We just fell in love with it and when we came back to Nova Scotia, we attended our first bluegrass festival.
The Spinney Brothers are known for their tight vocal duet style as they perform original and traditional, southern-flavored bluegrass.
Mr. Spinney said he had no musical training before picking up the banjo, but his mother was a singer/songwriter and their home was always filled with music. But he couldnt carry a tune in grade school. While in high school, he focused on and excelled at sports.
But once I really got a feel for the music and got an understanding for it, and started playing it and singing it a little bit more, I was able to grasp some of that singing talent, Mr. Spinney said.
His brother, he said, was more musically advanced.
He started playing (guitar) about six years before I did, he said. His musical ability is definitely a lot better than mine and much more natural, where Ive had to work really hard at obtaining some of the goals that I strived for.
The Spinney Brothers began devoting themselves to their music full-time two years ago. The band has about 115 tour dates this year. Last year, they were signed by Mountain Fever Records out of Willis, Va. Memories is the bands 10th album.
Its given us a lot of great exposure, Mr. Spinney said of signing with the label.
Besides Rick Spinney on banjo and Allan Spinney on guitar, the Spinney Brothers consists of Gary Dalrymple on mandolin and fiddle and Terry Mumford on bass.