The Heavenly Thrillbillies break tradition

The Heavenly Thrillbilies
The Heavenly Thrillbilies
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Tap your toes to live American mountain music – without leaving Wearside.

Sunderland bluegrass band The Heavenly Thrillbillies will be donning their dungarees and fine-tuning their banjos in Washington this weekend.

By day the four-piece are Gary Brewis, Phillip Wynd, Andy Fraser and David Reed.

However, by night, the men become Grandpappy Crazy Fingers on banjo; Jumpin’ Jack Brewis on double bass; Texas Travis on harmonica and lap steel guitar and the Reverand Kid Kentucky on guitar and kazoo.

As well as traditional bluegrass roots music, the band put a country twist on classic tracks from the likes of Donna Summer and The Bee Gees.

David, from Washington, says the band’s choice of music helps them to stand out from the crowd.

“Apart from a group in Newcastle, I don’t really know of anyone who does this kind of music in the area,” he said.

“We’ve been together about three years and it all came about by accident really.

“Phillip, the bass player used to be in a rock band. When his dad passed away he left him a banjo and he got a taste for playing it.

“I had a lot of Hank Williams CDs.

“We’ve know each other since we were kids and it all went from there really.”

* The Heavenly Thrillbillies play Blue Bell Inn in Usworth from 9pm on Saturday. Entry is free.

Katy Wheeler