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Playing Since: 1976
Experience Level: Expert/Professional
[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]
Occupation: Banjo player for Dr Ralph Stanley
5 string banjo
Stanley Bros, Reno & Smiley, Ralph Stanley, Raymond Fairchild, Richard Underwood, Eddie Adcock.
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Visible to: Public
Last Visit 7/5/2013
Banjo Stylist Mitchell Van Dyke, joined the Clinch Mountain Boys at the beginning of the year 2011. Mitchell was born July 10, 1970 in Grundy, Virginia where he still resides with his wife Becky and their son Alex. Mitchell grew up in the mountains listening to the sound of bluegrass music. His father Ray played the banjo and his grandmother Rosa played the clawhammer style banjo. At age six Mitchell began to show interest in bluegrass music and started playing the banjo. He would set on his dad's lap and play the three finger style, while his dad did the cording. Mitchell's dad loved the Stanley Brothers music and he began taking him to festivals and area events. In 1980 Mitchell met Ralph Stanley for the first time at the “House and Barn Mountain Festival” in Wardell, VA. After listening to him play, Ralph said, “All he needs is a little time and practice. He's doing fine”. Those words coming from Ralph encouraged him to continue to practice and play music so that one day he could achieve his goal to play like his hero Ralph Stanley. Mitchell's father gave him his first Stanleytone banjo when he was twelve years old. With his dad's, help he learned to play the banjo by listening to Ralph's albums and playing along. Mitchell never had any formal music lessons and he does not read music. He is self-taught and plays only by ear. The Stanley style is what he has always wanted to play. Mitchell has performed in many contests and has won several awards. He has heard numerous comments from people at different shows about how much his playing resembles Ralph Stanley. Mitchell has performed, with several groups and musicians including Raymond Fairchild and James King. He has played in bands with two former Clinch Mountain Boys, Kennith Davis and Junior Blankenship. On two separate occasions, Mitchell filled in for Ralph when he was unable to play due to medical reasons. Mitchell's dream became a reality when he was contacted to play on a tribute album to Ralph and was then invited to join Dr. Ralph Stanley's band, the Clinch Mountain Boys as their new banjo player. Mitchell is also working on a new banjo album on his own Sonray label entitled “My Turn” which features Ralph and the Clinch Mountain Boys. The recording was produced by Ralph's grandson Nathan Stanley. Ralph does a great job singing the gospel song “Paul and Silas” and starts the boys out on the instrumental tune “Train 45”. Two of the songs included on this album were written by Mitchell. This album is scheduled to be released in late March or April, 2011. The title of this album is perfect for Mitchell because as the old saying goes, “he has paid his dues” and now it is his turn to play with the true legend of bluegrass music, Dr. Ralph Stanley.
'Huber Banjo Bridge' 43 min
'Double Gourd Fretless' 6 hrs