Bluegrass music lovers from throughout North and South Carolina clamor for the music of the talented musicians of Nitrograss. Those of you who frequent the Ugly Dog Pub here in Highlands on Wednesday night are very familiar with these guys.
The band consists of four super talented musicians. They have all played a variety of instruments and in several bands before forming Nitrograss in summer 2010. Charles Wood plays a mean banjo. As a matter of fact, Charles has won many awards over the years including Georgia, South Carolina, Merlefest, and Rockygrass banjo contests. Most notably he is the two-time champion of the prestigious Winfield National Banjo competition. With more than 25 years’ experience on the banjo, Charles can really make the banjo talk. He started his musical training on the piano. He was drawn to the banjo by renowned musicians Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs of the Grand Ole Opry. A banjo teacher in his hometown of Seneca, S.C., Charles has been seen on Late Night with David Letterman and heard on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.
Brothers Caleb and Micah Hanks are the vocalists of the band. Caleb plays the mandolin with “fire and sensitivity.” Growing up in a musical family with a father who taught music, Caleb knew that he would do something musically but he just wasn’t sure what. Originally he played drums in a local rock and roll band. As a youngster he said that he wanted to play a fiddle but now that he has caught “the mandolin bug,” that instrument holds his heart.
Older brother Micah, plays the acoustic guitar. At age five, he was given a full size guitar but it was too big for his small hands. It wasn’t until the fourth grade that he actually was able to handle the full-size guitar well. As the band’s lead singer, folks describe his style as “anticipatory and improvisational.”
On bass is Dakota “Smoky” Waddell. Dakota and Micah met while in school at UNC-Asheville. He has played a variety of instruments including trombone, tuba and a baritone saxophone but he seems to have found his calling with the bass. Writing songs is a passion for Dakota. The notes come easy but he struggles with the appropriate lyrics.
No matter where they are playing these super talented musicians really know how to rev up their fans. They often receive requests for a CD of their most requested tunes. Take heart fans, they are currently working on just that. They want to include some songs that they have written so it may be a few more months before the album is truly ready.
Joining Nitrograss during their performances at the Ugly Dog Pub every Wednesday is talented fiddler and song writer Rebecca White. She has performed both rock and acoustic throughout the years. You gotta hear these guys play. Be There!