The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band
Entertainment with a Capital “N”
Li’l Mikey Armistead: Although small in stature, he’s got more show bidness brains in his whole body than most folks have in their little finger. Mike helps run a goat farm, plays a Martin guitar or two, just not at the same time, and sings lead and HIGH tenor (and getting higher all the time). Mike is striving to fill the size 22 shoes of his late dad, Lonesome Lester Armistead, who helped create the Jug Band and its signature look and sound. Mike is also a firefighter for the city of Nashville working in the HAZMAT bidness. He’s been known to blow out the flames just by singing the chorus of “The Precious Jewel”, as long as his fellow firefighters have time to put on hearing protection. Li’l Mikey can sure huff and puff. Steeped in the tradition of his late dad and Bashful Brother Oswald he really brings the goods folks.
Ernie “Sir Cecil” Sykes: Ern is from Long Gisland NY but has kicked around Nashville for decades with his big bass fiddle and bag of good ol’ country songs. He’s known for both “weepers”, and jolly numbers from Roger Miller. His singing has brought audiences to tears, and that’s on the Roger Miller numbers. Ern likes to tell folks that he has been a true bluegrass pro; with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, with Don Reno, and with the Bluegrass Cardinals. If you hear vague muttering from the back of the stage during their show, you can be sure it’s Ernie making wiseacre asides (behinds?). Ern also shares the distinction (?) with Li’l Roy Lewis of being the only hand trumpet players in bluegrass or hillbilly music.
Handsome Dan Kelly: What can you say about this fiddling hunk from Pennsylvania, that doesn’t just increase his appeal to the ladies? Well, he’s a great fiddle teacher. He LOVES to jam with pickers at Jug Band personal appearances at bluegrass festivals. He’s won all kinds of fiddle contests in the US and Canada. He was a member of Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys, taking the place of his mentor and hero, Howdy Forrester. He’s played with all kinda top 40 country acts, which if listed here would only increase his appeal to the ladies. Dan does not sing, for fear that the ladies would rush the stage.
Mike Webb: Mike plays the Dobro ™ steel guitar (a guitar fretted in the Hawaiian manner, according to liner notes on an old Flatt & Scruggs LP) and the old clawhammer banjo. He’s apparently made of ham, and is always cutting up with some kind of moss-covered country music comedy routine. He learned his comedy and Dobro ™ craft at the knees of his hero and mentor, Bashful Brother Oswald of Roy Acuff’s Smokey Mountain Boys. Mike played Dobro ™ for Wilma Lee Cooper on the Grand Ol’ Opry. Although Os was ALWAYS smiling, surely he’s smiling down on his protégé every time he takes the stage with the Jug Band. Mike likes to lord it over the rest of the band members for being the most popular, as he actually won election to office in his home county in Tennessee. And as we all know, politics is just a popularity contest and therefore he might just be THE most popular man in country music.
Leroy Troy: The Sultan of Goodlettsville, the Most Popular Man in Country Music, the ol’ Tennessee Slicker hisownself, plays banjo, ukulele and a contrivance he calls “the washing machine”. Since the Knoxville World’s Fair in 1982 (who could forget that?) Leroy has been a professional hillbilly musician. He learned his trade working with the Bailes Brothers (long ago members of the Grand Ol’ Opry). He knows about every banjo “monkeyshine” that Uncle Dave Macon ever performed. He’s a good flat-foot dancer. He can really work over a crowd! Troy has logged the most tv time in the band; from Hee Haw, to Outsiders Inn (who could forget that?), to the Marty Stuart Show on RFD where he’s a featured guest nearly every week. Also, Troy now has a bona fide hillbilly commune in the hills and hollers of Goodlettsville.