Billy Bryant

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The late banjoist Billy Bryant was best known as a member of The Dixie Travelers, a group put together in the late '60s by bandleader Mac Martin that was solidly on the mainstream, hardcore bluegrass…
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The late banjoist Billy Bryant was best known as a member of The Dixie Travelers, a group put together in the late '60s by bandleader Mac Martin that was solidly on the mainstream, hardcore bluegrass side of the line. Certain instrumental touches within this group gave it a somewhat special sound, namely the lyrical fiddling of Mike Carson and Bryant' banjo work, chiming in a way that sonically explains the old Chuck Berry lyric about "playin' a guitar just like ringin' a bell."

Like many Appalachian pickers, Bryant dabbled on other stringed instruments, also performing and recording on lead guitar. Other members of the Dixie Travelers include the bassist Frank Batista and mandolinist and tenor vocalist Bob Artis. The group cut a series of sides for labels such as Rural Rhythm and County between 1968 and 1972, the best of which has been collected on a White Oak CD entitled a Dark and Starless Night.

Bryant's last recording was with the dobroist Ron Mesing in the late '70s. Bryant should not be confused with the noise jazz drummer of the same name.