Crucial Smith


  • From Nashville, Tennessee.
  • Formed in 1996 by Kyle Wood (mandolin), Tim May (guitar), Michael McLain (banjo), and Dave ‘Doc’ Holladay (bass). McLain was replaced by Chris Joslin (banjo).
  • Original name of the band was “Sam Hill,” but they discovered that the name was already in use.
  • The name Crucial Smith’s connection to bluegrass: Smith is Bill Monroe’s middle name.
  • 1997, recorded first album, produced by former New Grass Revival guitarist Pat Flynn.
  • Mandolinist Kyle Wood is a graphic artist and a former member of Eddie Rabbitt’s Hare Trigger Band. Also edits “Lost in Space,” a science fiction magazine. Since the breakup of Crucial Smith, he has recorded a solo project “The Kyle Wood Project.”
  • Bass player Dave Holladay was band leader with Geraldo Rivera. He is also an optometrist.
  • Guitarist Tim May also worked with Eddie Rabbit and The Jim Buchanan System.
  • Banjo player Chris Joslin formerly performed with the Rutherford County Square Dancers, Free Wheelin’, and The Neverly Brothers. He later became curator of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky.
  • 2001, added fiddle player Gretchen Priest, who is married to Tim May. They released a project together called Plaidgrass, a mix of bluegrass and celtic music.
  • 2003, disbanded after recording a third album that was never released.
  • 2010, guitarist Tim May teamed with fiddle player Fred Carpenter (formerly of the Tony Rice Unit) to form a duo called “Carpenter and May.”
  • 2016, Kyle Wood joined Ray Cardwell and Tennessee Moon.
  • 2021, Kyle Wood died at the age of 55.