Category: V

Val, Joe


  • From New England. Was born in Everett, Massachusetts.
  • Real name: Joseph Valiante. His last name was shortened to Val by fiddler Tex Logan.
  • An influential mandolin player and tenor singer in the New England area.
  • 1950’s, performed with the Radio Rangers and the Lilly Brothers.
  • 1960’s, worked with Bill Keith, Jim Rooney, Breakfast Special, and the Charles River Valley Boys, a group that became well-known after recording an album for Elektra called “Beatle Country”featuring bluegrass arrangements of songs by the Beatles.
  • 1969, formed The New England Bluegrass Boys and recorded five albums for Rounder.
  • He had a full-time day job as a typewriter repairman.
  • Died in 1985. Was posthumously presented with the IBMA’s Distinguished Achievement Award that same year.
  • 1986, a concert series (and later a bluegrass festival) was named in his honor.
  • 2018, was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.


Van Cleve, Jim


  • Born/raised in Sarasota, Florida. Grew up in Haywood County, North Carolina. Resides in Nashville.
  • Began playing fiddle at age 8.
  • As a teenager, played with Ric-o-chet, Lou Reid & Carolina, Rambler’s Choice, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.
  • 1998, joined Mountain Heart.
  • An A-list Nashville session musician. Played on Carrie Underwood’s hit single “Don’t Forget to Remember Me.”
  • 2006, recorded solo project No Apologies (Rural Rhythm). First cut, “Nature of the Beast” nominated for Grammy Award ( for Best Country Instrumental Performance).
  • 2012, contracted Dengue Fever while he was on a Carribean vacation. He was seriously ill for several weeks.
  • 2015, left Mountain Heart (after 17 years) to tour with Josh Turner and to start his own production company.
  • 2018, joined Appalachian Road Show.

Van Meter, Sally


  • From the San Francisco Bay area. Lives in Colorado.
  • One of the top Dobro™ players in bluegrass.
  • Original member of The Good Old Persons. She was also in the band Blue Rose.
  • 1991, released solo project All in Good Time (Sugar Hill).
  • 1993, formed her own band.
  • 1994, formed the Sally Van Meter/Tammy Fassaert Band (with vocalist Tammy Fassaert).
  • One of her recordings was used in the soundtrack of the hit TV series, Northern Exposure.
  • Has produced albums by the Yonder Mountain String Band and Open Road.

Verch, April


  • From Pembroke, Ontario, Canada.
  • Began step-dancing at age three; fiddling at age six.
  • As a high school student, recorded two albums.
  • Attended Boston’s Berklee School of Music.
  • Won the Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Championship and Canadian Open Fiddle Championship.
  • Worked with Canadian country music star Tommy Hunter.
  • Her live show invariably includes a step-dancing demonstration.
  • 2003, released From Where I Stand album (Rounder).
  • 2006, released Take Me Back album (Rounder) produced by Dirk Powell.
  • 2009, released Verchuosity album (Rounder).
  • 2013, released Bright Like Gold album (no label).
  • 2015, released Newpart album (no label).
  • 2017, released Anthology album (Slab Town).

Vern and Ray


  • From Stockton, California. Originally from Arkansas.
  • A duo featuring Vern Williams (mandolin) and Ray Park (guitar). Ray also played fiddle.
  • Met in Stockton in 1959, formed a band called the Carroll County Country Boys. Recorded several singles on the Starday label.
  • Herb Pederson (Dillards, Desert Rose Band, Laurel Canyon Ramblers) frequently played banjo with Vern and Ray.
  • Disbanded in 1974. Vern formed The Vern Williams Band with his son Delbert on guitar, Keith Little on banjo.
  • Ray went on to work with many other west coast bluegrass and country bands. He also recorded a solo fiddle album called “Fiddletown” in 1982.
  • Ray died in 2002.
  • Vern died in 2006.
  • 2014, Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick recorded a tribute album called “Laurie and Kathy Sing the Songs of Vern and Ray.”

Vestal, Scott


  • From Duncan, Oklahoma. Lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Started playing banjo at age 13.
  • At age 18, landed his first pro job with Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers (one year).
  • Age 19, moved to Texas and formed a band with brother Curtis and Russell Moore called Southern Connection.
  • 1985, joined Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.
  • 1990, formed a group called Livewire.
  • 1992, released a solo project “In Pursuit of Happiness” (no label).
  • 1994, with David Parmley, formed Continental Divide.
  • 1996, won IBMA award for Banjo Player of the Year (co-winner with Sammy Shelor).
  • 1998-2003, worked with the John Cowan Band.
  • Producer of series of annual instrumental albums (The “Bluegrass” series), which won the IBMA award for Recorded Event of the Year in 1996.
  • First to popularize the “stealth” banjo: a five-string banjo with a hidden fifth-string tuning peg.
  • 2000, released Millenia album (Pinecastle).
  • 2003, joined Rock County. Also worked with Longview and Shawn Camp.
  • 2004, joined Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time.
  • 2006, joined the Sam Bush Band.
  • 2006, he and his wife Alice recorded Going to the Dance album.
  • 2017, won the Steve Martin prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass (which comes with a $50,000 check).

Via, Mason


  • From Danbury, North Carolina.
  • Via is pronounced “Vie” (as in “die” or “sky”).
  • A multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter who is currently a member of Old Crow Medicine Show.
  • 2016, released solo project Up, Up, Up (no label). He has also recorded several projects with Tom Mindte and Ben Somervil (Patuxent).
  • His bands: Hot Trail Mix and the Mason Via Band.
  • 2020, joined Old Crow Medicine Show.
  • 2021, made the final top 40 competition on the ABC-TV program American Idol.
  • 2021, released solo project on Mountain Fever Records.

Village Singers, The


  • From Fredericktown, Missouri.
  • Originally called “The Gospel Tones.” Formed in 1972 by Harold and Kathy Goad.
  • 1985, changed name to the Village Singers.
  • Heavily influenced by the style of the Chuck Wagon Gang.
  • Harold (banjo and guitar) formerly performed regularly at Silver Dollar City in Branson. Wife Kathy plays mandolin. Their son Warren plays guitar and sings bass.
  • Bass player Shirley Vaughn, formerly with a group called Parker Mountain Bluegrass is from Springdale, Arkansas.
  • 1999, released There’s a Great Day Coming album (Pinecastle).
  • 2001, released All Aboard album (Pinecastle).
  • 2010, released He Put the Color in the Rose album (Pinecastle).
  • Harold Goad died, 2018

Vincent, Rhonda


  • From Kirksville, Missouri.
  • Grew up performing with her family band, The Sally Mountain Show. She appeared on their weekly TV show and recorded 11 albums before embarking on a solo career. She began singing professionally and playing mandolin at age five.
  • 1977, won the Missouri state fiddle championship.
  • 1985, began performing with Grand Ole Opry Star Jim Ed Brown on the Grand Ole Opry (as a background vocalist).
  • 1992, signed wth Giant Records for two country projects.
  • 1998, co-hosted the IBMA awards show with Ricky Skaggs.
  • 1998, formed Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. The original Rage was spelled “Raje” for the initials of the band members: Rhonda, Alan (Jones), Joey (Wieneman) and Earl (actually Irl Hees). It was later changed to Rage.
  • She owned a restaurant in Kirksville called “Bogie’s” (now closed.)
  • Nickname: “Mandolin Mama.” The New York Times called her “the Queen of Bluegrass.”
  • 2001, won the IBMA award for Entertainer of the Year.
  • 2002, was inducted into the George D. Hay Country Music Hall of Fame in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas.
  • 2009, began recording and performing with country artist Gene Watson.
  • 2014, won SPBGMA award for Entertainer of the Year.
  • 2015, won her 8th IBMA Award for Female Vocalist of the Year (she also won this award in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006).
  • 2017, released All the Rage–Live, Volume One album (Upper Management)
  • 2018, won a Grammy Award for her album All the Rage–Live, Volume One (Upper Management)
  • 2018, the Missouri state legislature voted to name a portion of Highway 63 in northeastern Missouri “The Bluegrass Queen Rhonda Vincent Highway.”
  • 2021, she was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry (Feb 6). The induction was conducted by Dierks Bentley.


Virginia Ramblers


  • From Albermarle County, Virginia.
  • Formed in 2004.
  • Members: Charles Frazier (guitar, lead vocals), Donnie Shifflet (bass) and Jeff Vogelsong (mandolin), Zack Deming (banjo). Vogelsong and Deming were later replaced by Troy Gooding (mandolin) and Tom Hogge (banjo).
  • Frazier, Shifflet and Vogelgesang performed together for 13 years with banjo player Alvin Breeden as The Virginia Cutups.
  • Zack Deming is a former member of King Wilkie.
  • 2005, appeared on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Virginia Squires, The


  • From Virginia.
  • Formed in 1983 by Rickie Simpkins (fiddle and mandolin), Ronnie Simpkins (bass), Mark Newton (guitar and lead vocals), and Sammy Shelor (banjo.)
  • The Simpkins brothers and Shelor had previously worked with The Heights of Grass. Lead singer Mark Newton had previously worked with The Knoxville Grass.
  • 1984, voted “Bluegrass Band of the Year” by the Country Music Association of Virginia.
  • 1985, released “Mountains and Memories” album (Rebel).
  • 1986, released “Hard Times and Heartaches” album (Rebel).
  • 1988, released “Variations” album (Rebel)
  • Broke up in 1989. They occasonally reunite when the members of the band are together at festivals.
  • Ronnie Simpkins went on to work with many bands including a long-running stint with the Seldom Scene. Rickie Simpkins worked with numerous bands including Tony Rice, Lonesome River Band, Continental Divide, the Isaacs and Emmylou Harris. Sammy Shelor joined the Lonesome River Band and has been its leader ever since. Mark Newton is a solo performer and promotes the annual Graves Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Virginia.


Volume Five


  • From Mississippi.
  • Formed in 2009.
  • Original members: Glen Harrell (fiddle & lead vocals), Patton Wages (banjo), Chris Williamson (bass), Jesse Daniel (mandolin), Adam Duke (guitar). Duke was later replaced by Colby Laney. All were previously sidemen in other bands (Marty Raybon, Randy Kohrs, Tony Rice Unit).
  • 2010, released first album Down In A Cell (Mountain Fever).
  • 2011, released Children of the Mountain album (Mountain Fever).
  • 2013, released Run album (Mountain Fever).
  • 2013, Laney (guitar) was replaced by Jeff Partin. Daniel (mandolin) was replaced by Harry Clark (formerly with the Roys).
  • 2014, released a gospel album The Day We Learn To Fly (Mountain Fever).
  • 2014, Laney (guitar) returned to the band.
  • 2015, released Voices album (Mountain Fever).
  • 2016, Jacob Burleson (mandolin) joined the band, replacing Harry Clark. Jacob is the son of Jason Burleson, banjo player with Blue Highway.
  • 2016, released Drifter album (Mountain Fever).
  • 2017, won IBMA Awards for Emerging Artist of the Year and Song of the Year (for “I Am a Drifter” from their Drifter album).
  • 2018, released Milestones album (Mountain Fever).
  • 2019, Laney (guitar) left the band. Burleson (mandolin) switched to guitar and Adam Steffey joined, playing mandolin.
  • 2019, released For Those Who Care to Listen album (Mountain Fever).
  • 2020, Aaron Ramsey joined the band, replacing Adam Steffey (mandolin). Kameron Kelley also joined, playing bass. New band lineup: Glen Harrell (fiddle, lead vocals), Patton Wages (banjo), Jacob Burleson (guitar), Aaron Ramsey (mandolin) and Kameron Keller (bass).
  • 2022, Jacob Eller joined the band, replacing Kameron Keller on bass.
  • 2022, released Karma album (Mountain Fever).

VW Boys, The


  • From Blountville, Tennessee.
  • Formed by Tim White and Dave Vaught in 1997. Larry McPeak of the McPeak Brothers joined them about a year later.
  • A bluegrass band that features magic and comedy “to provide a complete entertainment experience. They perform at amusement parks like Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN and have worked with Jerry Clower and Don Knotts.
  • 2005, released Snappy Lunch album (Fat Dog).
  • 2007, released Retroactive album (Fat Dog)
  • 2009, Larry McPeak was replaced by “Fat Albert” Blackburn. McPeak has had ongoing health problems.
  • 2010, released VW Boys Greatest Hits album (Fat Dog).
  • 2011, released Big Fat Earl album (Fat Dog).