Chaparral Exclusive: Balsam Range takes the world of bluegrass by storm

From left to right: Buddy Melton, Tim Surrett, Darren Nicholson, Caleb Smith, and Marc Pruett (Photo Courtesy of Laughing Penguin Publicity)

By Crystal Harrell


After earning the title of 2014’s IBMA “Entertainer of the Year” and performing at this year’s Stagecoach Festival, Balsam Range has done more than just make a name for themselves in the music industry. The group has cemented their identity as a bluegrass group true to form, but able to seamlessly blend some innovative genre twists within their old-fashioned acoustic values.

The quintet consisting of Buddy Melton (fiddle and lead tenor), Darren Nicholson (mandolin and vocals), Tim Surrett (stand-up bass/dobro and vocals), Caleb Smith (guitar and vocals), and Marc Pruett (banjo) performed on Stagecoach’s Mustang Stage Friday evening to an energetic crowd.

“This is our first time coming down here to play in California, and we were one of the only bluegrass groups at the festival this year. It allows us to bridge the gap between genres, in a way; I think our sound really has a mass appeal since we also include a bit of rock ‘n’ roll, swing music, and jazz tunes in our sets,” explained Nicholson.

With five albums under their belt, Balsam Range has become a growing force to be reckoned with, especially after the recent release of their cover of Dan Seals’ “Everything that Glitters” to country radio. “We have been totally shocked and humbled by all we have been able to do and the amount of support from fans we have collected over time. It’s been us five guys for over eight years, and I couldn’t be more thankful. It’s really a testament to professionalism that allows us to play so many high-energy shows,” stated Nicholson.

Balsam Range has many musical influences, ranging from the vocal stylings of The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, and a variety of gospel tracks, but bluegrass music has been near and dear to their heart since the formation of the band. “Bluegrass holds a special place not only because of where we’re from in North Carolina, but also in the way the genre has been passed from generation to generation. It’s a sound that’s full of a rooted heritage, and it is constantly evolving,” said Nicholson. “Being able to introduce bluegrass to new audiences is great; hopefully, we’ll travel to different areas in the future to do that.”

As far as the future is concerned, the members of Balsam Range are looking to enjoy their time doing what they love most: making music for their fans. “We’re not really looking for fame or fortune. It’s nice to think about, but our main concern is to keep performing. We don’t just have fans—they’re also our friends. Anyone who listens to our songs and goes out to support us is a friend of ours,” revealed Nicholson. “We just want to take it one day at a time, while staying true to who we are and where we come from.”

With numerous awards and top-charting songs to their name, Balsam Range is a success story crafted from their own talent and heartfelt determination. For more information and tour dates, visit Balsam Range’s official website and Facebook page. Their music is also available through iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play.

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