Sugar Run at Spruce, WV
Sugar Run , founded in 2010, consists of the husband and wife team of Mike (clawhammer and three-finger banjo, guitar, mandolin, dobro and vocals) and Bonnie Johnson (bass-fiddle and vocals), Stanley Asbury (flat-pickin’ style guitar and vocals), Rachel Johnson (Bluegrass and Old-time fiddle).
Sugar Run’s music ranges from traditional high-energy Bluegrass, foot-stompin’ Old-Time, poignant ballads of heartbreak and loss, old-style Country and Honky-tonk music, gospel, as well as original compositions. We also feature specific musical formats and selections for special occasions, such as: Civil War reenactments, dances, or remembrance festivals; local tradition events; railroading and logging events; dances; etc.
Sugar Run’s home range is situated in the Allegheny Mountain region of West Virginia and Virginia. Our regular performance venues include the Virginia and West Virginia. We do play in other areas as the opportunities arise, and we are willing to travel.
Our first CD, “Sugar Run – Pounding Out a Tune” is now available for sale at their performances.
304-799-4289 and 540-392-4745
Sugar Run on stage at The Bottling Works, Romney, WV
Check out our new CD: Pounding Out A Tune …featuring the following tracks:
“Cold Mountain Rain”
Bonnie plays the upright acoustical bass fiddle. Bonnie sings lead on many songs, several of which she wrote herself, “Cold Mountain Rain”, which appears on our CD “Pounding Out a Tune” on Catawba Records. Bonnie started playing the bass in November of 2006 and has been hard at it ever since. Bonnie is originally from New Hampshire, but relocated to Virginia in the early 90’s. Bonnie’s musical influences include bass players Jim Martin of “Gandydancer”, Mike Smith of the “Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys”, and Meredith McIntosh. Vocal influences include Patty Loveless, Wilma Lee Cooper, Kathy Kallick, and Dolly Parton. Bonnie’s love-affair with old-time music began when she heard Mike, on one of their first dates, play a modal version of “June Apple” on his banjo. Her love of Bluegrass and older country music were sure to follow.
Mike plays the five-string banjo as his main instrument. He also plays the guitar, dobro, and mandolin, and sings lead and/or harmony, depending on the song. Mike began playing the banjo in 1957, when he was 12 years old, on a used, “no-name” banjo from a pawn shop.
Mike’s banjo style is primarily claw-hammer but also includes 3-finger style picking. He plays an older and less common style of clawhammer, sometimes called “slack finger”, similar to the early clawhammer style of Ralph Stanley. Mike favors the bright, ringing, more flamboyant clawhammer styles of past and present performers such as Grandpa Jones, Stringbean, Larry Sigmon, and Leroy Troy. His 3-finger style favors that of the late Ralph Stanley… following the melody and not much in the way of “fancy frills”. In 1960, Mike learned to play guitar in the Carter family style, and a short time later learned to play Merle Travis style finger picking. He plays both styles, depending on the song, on the acoustic guitar. He often plays both styles in the same song. In 2012, Mike began learning to play the dobro and has attended several workshops with the renowned dobroist, Chris Stockwell.
Stanley plays the guitar as his main instrument. He does bluegrass style flat-pickin’, and sings lead on many songs. Stanley has played the guitar and has sung bluegrass most of his life. He has played with numerous hard-driving bluegrass groups. Stanley is a retired coal miner from the coal fields of McDowell County, West Virginia. His unique style of singing and guitar flat-picking is an essential part of our musical repertoire.
Rachel is the newest addition to Sugar Run. She plays fiddle and lives near Lewisburg, WV. Her fiddle playing encompasses a broad range of fiddle styles. She is equally at ease playing an old-time fiddle tune at break-neck speed, or at a slower speed suitable for square dancing or flat-footing. She can accompany and play fiddle breaks on a hard-driving Bluegrass song in a manner and style that would make the late Paul Warren blush, and she can play a country honky-tonk fiddle that would make you think you stepped through a time-warp back into a 1950’s honky-tonk, listening to a Ray Price song on the juke box.
Band photo near Greenville, WV