In 1986 a group of musicians from the Galax, VA area formed a new band. The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters took their name, in part from the original Bogtrotters of the 1930’s also because band leader Dennis Hall lives on Ballards Branch. Dennis’ home is very close to the home of Uncle Eck Dunford who played fiddle in the original band. The other members of the original Bogtrotters were Uncle Wade Ward, his brother, Davy Crockett Ward, and nephew Fields Ward, and Doctor Davis. They won the very first fiddlers Convention in Galax setting a precedence for all that follow in their footsteps. The New Ballard’s Branch Bogtrotters continue to play in the traditional Appalachian string-band style often playing for square dances around the region. Rounding out the Bogtrotters lineup are: Eddie Bond on Fiddle,Dennis Hall on Guitar, Josh Ellis on Clawhammer Banjo, Bonnie Bond on Bass and Caroline Noel Beverley on Mandolin. Old time music is alive and well, and continues to attract fans of all ages. The New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters remain a driving force in carrying the traditional music of the Virginia/Carolina Blue Ridge into the new millennium. It is our hope to be an inspiration for future generations of mountain musicians!
The origin of Five Mile Mountain Road came from the meeting of fiddler Billy Hurt, Jr. and guitarist Brennen Ernst while working in The Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show. Billy and Brennen immediately discovered a common love for old music, particularly old-time fiddle music, ragtime, and early jazz. Upon meeting banjoist Seth Boyd in 2015, the nucleus of Five Mile Mountain Road was formed.
Fiddlin’ Billy Hurt sets the pace with the fiddle. A journeyman old-time and blue grass fiddler from Franklin County, Virginia, Hurt is widely known as one of the finest fiddle players in the business. Brennen Ernst, a native of Lucketts, Loudoun County, Virginia, is a multi-talented instrumentalist and provides powerful lead and rhythm guitar and rousing piano playing to help shape the unique Five Mile Mountain Road sound. Franklin County native Seth Boyd comes from a well-known musical family and drives the music with his expertise on multiple styles of old-time banjo. Caleb “Duke” Erickson from Rockford, Illinois, also plays rhythm guitar, along with Travis-style and flat-picking lead guitar. J. C. Radford, also a Franklin County native, is an accomplished bass player and writer of the band’s theme song “Five Mile Mountain Road”. All the members of the band contribute vocals and also write original material that help make up the band’s repertoire.