ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band

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Directed by Daniel Boner, the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Pride Band is comprised of virtuosic student performers with many years of professional experience accounted to each member. Over the course of the program's history, this acclaimed band has performed at prestigious venues across the United States and onstage with artists that include bluegrass and country music luminaires... more

Directed by Daniel Boner, the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Pride Band is comprised of virtuosic student performers with many years of professional experience accounted to each member. Over the course of the program's history, this acclaimed band has performed at prestigious venues across the United States and onstage with artists that include bluegrass and country music luminaires such as Alison Krauss, Del McCoury, Dan Tyminski, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs, and the late Porter Wagoner. These students maintain busy academic schedules while still making the majority of the program’s 80-100 annual show dates, which sometimes includes foreign tours to countries including Germany, Japan, Belgium, Scotland, England, and Canada, among others.

ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band students are not only from the Southeast but also from other areas of the country, and that wide separation creates a vast difference of influence among the members. These many influences are brought together to create a fluid, yet solid, traditional bluegrass sound. Current members are:

Jaime Carter, bass – Spartanburg, SC
Zach Carter, banjo – Spartanburg, SC
Aynsley Porchak, fiddle – Woodstock, ON, Canada
Karl Smakula, mandolin – Montrose, WV
Ben Watlington, guitar – Mocksville, NC

Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies at East Tennessee State University is the oldest established program of its kind at any four-year institution. Founded in 1982 by Jack Tottle, this program preserves the musical traditions rooted in Appalachian culture and encourages creativity and development of prevailing styles. Each year, ETSU attracts hundreds of students from around the globe who study seriously the music of the mountains in the rich cultural hearth of Northeast Tennessee.

Students pursuing full-time careers in music declare the Bachelor of Arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies – the only degree of its kind in the world. Student musicians interested in working toward degrees in professions other than music find our minor in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies to be most suitable. Non-degree students also are welcome to register for any courses that might be of personal interest.

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