Bluegrass and old time acoustic music goes back for generations in Jimmy’s family. He grew up listening to his grandfather, his dad, and his uncles playing music every weekend. At the age of 10, he picked up the banjo and has been addicted to it every since. After a few months of lessons to learn the basics, he learned the rest on his own by listening to his favorite banjo players such as Earl Scruggs and JD Crowe. He was in his first band at the age of 11, and they recorded a radio show every week that aired on a local radio station close to him. Since then he has been involved in numerous bands and was able to travel to different locations in the US and Canada and play the music that he loves. Although he started playing professionally at the early age of 11, he was offered the opportunity to play music full time in 2002. He did that with a few different bands and was able to play huge festivals such as Bean Blossom, Gettysburg and others and received compliments on his playing by his banjo heroes such as JD Crowe. But the highlight was in January of 2005 when he was asked to fill in for then IIIrd Tyme Out banjo player Steve Dilling while he recovered from hand surgery. He gladly accepted and in March of 2005, he played the Grand Ole Opry with them at The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. After 9 years of being a full time musician and instructor, he needed a break from traveling and wanted to spend more time with his daughter and quit missing the special moments in her life because he was away playing shows. He formed Connection 27 in June of 2014 along with Tim, Jeff, and John. He is extremely happy to be a founder and a part of this band. “We all have a similar view on bluegrass and a certain band sound and style that we are looking to create, and we all get along so well. These guys are my brothers and we have a definite ‘Connection’, something I haven’t been a part of in a long time.” Jimmy is also a banjo instructor at Fiddlers Anonymous in Red Bank, TN and is proud to be endorsed by GHS Strings and Nechville Banjos.
Doug's musical experience began when he was in elementary school and he was already playing the guitar. He was influenced by his mothers family in North Carolina. Her father played old time banjo and several of her brothers played mandolin and guitar. He began playing mandolin and fiddle in his teens and was influenced early on by Georgia state fiddle champion Jack Weeks. His first loves of bluegrass bands were Flatt and Scruggs, and Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. Other fiddle influences include Kenny Baker, Paul Warren, Vassar Clements, Benny Martin, Byron Berline but he also listened to Benny Thomason, Grappelli, and Johnny Gimble. Then he heard Sam Bush and Mark O'Conner and he was even more fascinated. He played locally with a band named Maple on the Hill for a few years while completing medical school and has been a well respected anesthesiologist for the past 30 years. "And now I find myself the newest and elder member of this great band Connection 27. They are some of the finest guys I've ever been around, and crazy good singers and musicians. We have a common musical taste and sense of time. Take a look at the videos and come out and see us sometime, I think you'll agree! We are only getting better!"
After leaving the Navy in 1994, Jeff developed a love for old country and bluegrass music. He was already a piano player and dabbled with other instruments while growing up in East Tennessee. He soon traded the piano for a mandolin and took lessons for about 6 months. He would watch and learn from a lot of great mandolin players and soon started playing his mandolin and singing in church and get into jam sessions with friends and other bands. He was also determined to develop his high lead and harmony singing while working on his mandolin playing. He joined his first bluegrass gospel group in the late 1990's and has never looked back. Since then he has been a part of several bluegrass bands in the eastern part of the United States and played venues such as Dollywood. It was during this time that he was able to gain valuable experience and further develop his vocal sound and playing style on the mandolin. "I am thrilled to be a founding member of Connection 27 and be able to be a part of such a great group of musicians and singers. But these guys are more than that, they are also great human beings and friends." Jeff is a proud endorser of Hinde mandolins.
Tim Smith comes from a long line of musicians and singers. His Grandfather and Grandmother traveled and sang in a gospel group and traveled often from church to church singing. It moved from them to their children where many of his Uncles and Aunts became members of groups and traveled singing gospel music. His Mother learned to play piano and sing at a early age and she started teaching him and his sisters to play instruments and sing at a very young age. He traveled and sang gospel music in his early career and even had the opportunity to sing at the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky in 1999. But in 2004, he found bluegrass and has been hooked on it ever since. He started focusing on bluegrass guitar and bluegrass vocals and hasn't looked back. Since then he has had the honor to play with many of his bluegrass heroes, playing the Dollywood stage, and playing many more shows at various locations and bands. He also helped form Connection 27 in June of 2014. He loves playing his Martin HD-35 and being a member of Connection 27. "It's such a honor to call these guys my friends and to have the privilege to play music and sing with them. There is so much more than just a group of guys here, there's a common desire with all of us to improve and make our band sound the very best that it can, both individually and as a whole."
John has been involved with music for a long time. It all started at church with his family. His parents always encouraged him in music, even forming a family band. Traveling many roads to various churches and venues is where he learned many valuable life lessons. He has also been a part of numerous bands through the years and was with the Marksmen Quartet for a while. Although his primary instrument is the bass, he also likes to play guitar and mandolin. He plays a big part of the Nine Mile Bluegrass Festivals in Pikeville, TN that are held every year. In fact, it was at one of those festivals (there are 4 every year) that Connection 27 was formed. "This band is enjoyable yet entertaining, not only to see in person but also to be a part of. I have the privilege of doing both. Thank you for your support of our endeavors and we will see you down the road somewhere." His vocal knowledge and sense of timing are a crucial part of this band, the foundation on which everything else is built.