Robert Phillips - Mandolin
Robert grew up in middle Georgia listening to bluegrass on Saturday nights and sitting on a hard church pew listening to the Preacher come Sunday morning. He started playing the Mandolin as a kid but sat it down after joining the Army. Robert served his nation for 20 years (1981-2001) with units such as the 82nd Airborne Division, JFK Special Warfare Center & School, and 2nd Infantry Division. It wasn’t until after his retirement from the Army that a friend encouraged him to dust off that Mandolin case and that fire for playing was reignited. To Robert, bluegrass and gospel is tightly intertwined and is more than just music. It is indeed a reflection of his heritage, where the struggles, hopes, and happiness of everyday life are put into song. He has been a member for both the Bluegrass Fever Band and the D.R. Wells Medicine Show. His musical influences include Ralph & Carter Stanley, Jimmy Martin, Red Smiley, Don Reno, and Lester Flatt. Robert and Sheila were married November 21st, 2015.
Sheila Phillips - Fiddle
Sheila grew up listening to her grandfather playing old-time fiddle tunes. Drawn to the music, she picked up the fiddle at the age of 13. Never getting any formal training (means she can’t read music and rarely knows what key she is playing in), she taught herself to play by buying LP record albums of fiddle players she enjoyed listening to and playing along with the songs on the records until she figured them out. Accompanied by her father on the guitar, one of the first fiddle contests Sheila entered and won was in Calico Ghost Town in Southern California -- (3rd Place got her a large ribbon, an apple pie and a $50 gift certificate to their local music store. The “tater bug” mandolin she purchased with that gift certificate still has a place on the shelf in her home.) She continued playing off-and-on as life and events would allow until her children were grown and had moved on. By this time, Sheila was living in Arizona. She joined a little bluegrass gospel band there and found what had been missing in her music. Arriving in North Carolina the winter of 2009, she eventually sought out other musicians that shared her love of bluegrass and gospel music and joined the Bluegrass Fever Band where she met her future husband, Robert Phillips.
Rick Walton - Bass
Rick Walton, a native of Louisiana and son of a Methodist preacher, has been playing the string bass for right at fifty years. He first learned to play bass at summer band camps at Louisiana Tech prior to his junior and senior years in high school. When he entered college in the Fall of 1964, he joined a folk group of which he was a member until graduation in 1968. Following graduation, he enlisted in the US Navy and spent his first year and eight months in San Diego, California. There he immersed himself in the folk music scene at a tiny coffeehouse in Mission Beach, acting as the “resident bassist.” During that period he began his association with country and bluegrass music. In 1970 he was transferred to a ship at Pearl Harbor. Between deployments to the Western Pacific, Rick played at coffeehouses on and off base, and eventually joined his first bluegrass band. Rick left the Navy and Hawaii in 1975, but returned to Hawaii after a brief residence in Atlanta. Then in 1979, he moved to Portland, Oregon with his new bride, Elizabeth. Over the next thirty-three years, Rick played bass with several bands in the Portland area while raising a family of three children. After retiring in 2012 from a career in technical writing, Rick and Elizabeth moved to North Carolina to be near their grandchildren. Rick has been playing at jam sessions in Raleigh, Carthage, and Sanford, and is now proud to be part of Cumberland County Line Bluegrass.
Gerald Bozarth - Banjo
Gerald grew up in Colorado. He started playing banjo while in high school, after hearing the Kingston Trio, watching The Dillards on the Andy Griffith Show, and Flatt and Scruggs on the Beverley Hillbillies. He became interested in all types of bluegrass music, ranging from other traditional bands such as Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers and Jimmy Martin, to more contemporary bands like the Country Gentlemen, Seldom Scene and the Newgrass Revival.
In 1979 Gerald played banjo with The Stone Mountain Bluegrass Company, out of Casper Wyoming. The band leader, Mitchell Land, was an ex-guitarist for Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. The Stone Mountain Bluegrass Company played a variety of traditional and contemporary bluegrass music.
In 1980 Gerald relocated back to his home state, Colorado. He, along with mandolinist, Charlie Provenza (one time winner of the Windfield National Mandolin contest, and five time winner of the Telluride Mandolin contest), formed Goldrush. Goldrush played a more progressive style of bluegrass including original material and material from bands outside of bluegrass (Newgrass Revival, Allman Brothers, Marshall Tucker, Eric Clapton, ect). They released two records and played around the Denver Boulder Colorado area.
In 1985 Gerald joined the Boulder Co based, Lefthand String Band. The band was lead by mandolinist/vocalist, Drew Emmitt, and included guitarist/vocalist, Vince Herman. The Lefthand String Band played a variety of traditional and progressive styles of bluegrass, along with original songs.
In 1990 Gerald left the music scene to focus on a career outside of music. He returned to playing the banjo in 2005, after relocating to central North Carolina. Since that time he has played with many local bluegrass bands, including Shadowhawk and David Hedrick and Clear Run, both out of Raleigh, Bill Jordan and Southern Bluegrass from Fayetteville, and the Bulletproof Tigers from Ashboro. On several occasions he has played with Carolina Tradition, The Black River Express, Bob Dotson and Flatt Blue, and The Cutting Grass Band.
Throughout his musical career, Gerald has had the opportunity to play with many other talented and known musicians, including John Duffey, Don and David Parmley, Larry Stephenson, John Hickman, Byron Berline, Tim O’Brien, Charles Sawtell, Peter Wernick, Nick Forester, Billy Ray Latham, Joe Newberry, John McEuen, Russell Johnson, Joe Craven, and Synthian.
Garland Johnston Jr. - Guitar
Garland Johnston, Jr. – At age 6, Garland saw a picture of his father "Garland, Sr" playing guitar and singing at a local radio station. He announced that he too wanted to play and sing on the radio. His big brother, Randy - who plays the acoustic and bass guitar, took time to teach Garland how to play the Hank Williams song "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry". With his guidance, Garland learned to play the guitar. Sunday afternoons at the Johnston house was filled with picking and singing by the entire family. Some of his earliest memories revolve around riding down the road with his mother, Brown, leading the children (Delores, Sue, Randy, Garland, Jr.) in singing good old gospel tunes. By age 9 he was playing and singing at his church. He was raised in Eastern NC listening and playing a mixture of Gospel, Country and Bluegrass. He wrote his first song at the tender age of 14 - and it's been downhill ever since. His influences include Tony Rice, The Louvin Brothers, Flatt & Scruggs, Hank Williams and John Denver. He played guitar and sang lead with the 'Bluegrass Hall of Fame' inductee Dewey Murphy. While playing with Dewey, he accomplished his lifelong goal of performing live on the radio. He moved back to the Raleigh area in 2015. He and his wife Carolyn Ann, affectionately known as "Cat" now call Fuquay-Varina, NC home.
David Hamlet - Dobro
David “Hambone” Hamlet grew up in the Piedmont region of North Carolina and now lives in Angier, NC. Raised on old country and bluegrass music, he started playing music at the age of 8 and by the age of 13 had picked up the Dobro. Hambone is well known and a fixture at Jams and Festivals throughout this region. Chances are if you ever jammed in the Camp Grounds of Bass Mountain (Lil John’s) Bluegrass Festival then you know Hambone. Hambone has been a member of several great local bands: “Jim Eakes & the Bluegrass Boys”, “Late Departure”, “White Pine Hollow”, “Heritage”, “Carolina Tradition Bluegrass” and the “Black River Express”. We sure are happy say he is now part of Cumberland County Line! In addition to being a fine musician Hambone is a superb Leatherman and is the proprietor of “Hambones Custom Leather” located in Angier, N.C. From custom music instrument straps to saddle work and even leather furniture, if it’s leather, Hambone has you covered. Stop by his Facebook page @HambonesCustomLeather.