Bluegrass music is a unique art form that is as much about feel and instinct as it is technique. Blending proficiency and passion into a musically intoxicating package, The Roys make their debut with Lonesome Whistle (Rural Rhythm Records), a spirited set that showcases the siblings stellar vocals, taut musicianship and enviable songwriting skills.
"My first real love is bluegrass music," says Lee. "When I was nine-years-old, I played in my first band and it was a bluegrass band. Ricky Skaggs has always been my hero, and even back in the early days of the Skaggs and Rice records; thats really where I cut my teeth. As a matter of fact, we were listening to some old stuff we had done and it was amazing to hear Keith Whitley in my voice back then when I was a kid because I was really into those guys."
With their reverence for legends such as Bill Monroe as well as contemporary torch bearers like Ricky Skaggs, The Roys have crafted a debut set that combines the best of bluegrass musics traditions with the promise of its future. In recording the album, Lee and his sister Elaine, enlisted Skaggs famed band, Kentucky Thunder, and added Steve Brewster on Drums/Percussion and the amazing Randy Kohrs, and even recorded in Skaggs Place Studios. "Being with Rickys band was inspiring because those guys are awesome," Elaine enthuses. "It really makes you want to do better because all of them are amazing musicians as well as amazing people. They love the music and they really put their hearts and souls into it. Thats why we really loved working with those guys."
"They are literally the masters of their craft," adds Lee. "Randy Kohrs is playing dobro and Justin Moses is playing the banjo. Those guys live and breathe their instrument. Its like an extension of their body."
Lee and Elaine are equally effusive in their praise when talking about bassist Mark Fain, guitarist Cody Kilby and fiddler Andy Leftwich, who co-produced the project with The Roys. Were they at all nervous stepping in to Skaggs studio to record their bluegrass debut? "Absolutely," Elaine confesses. "The first day we walked in there and I started seeing all the pictures of Bill Monroe and Ricky Skaggs and seeing Rickys Grammys and all his awards everywhere, I was thinking Oh my gosh! He is really the King of Bluegrass right now and were in his studio! It was very, very intimidating, but once we got in there and met with the guys and they were excited to be there, we put all that to bed. We thought Were here to sing and make music. Its in Gods hands. Its not even in our hands, so were just going to let it happen. Once we let it go, the magic happened."
Recording Lonesome Whistle was the culmination of a dream that began for The Roys during childhood. Elaine and Lee were born in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and the family later relocated to a small town called Coal Branch in New Brunswick, Canada. Music was always present in their household. "Traditional country music and bluegrass is what we grew up on. Thats all we listened to," says Elaine. "My grandma played the fiddle. She would play Acadian tunes and my aunts and uncles would sing and play multiple instruments as well. It was very traditional roots music. We fell in love with that and our harmonies seemed to fit that style of music. Thats really what we truly love."
"At five or six-years-old, I became addicted to music and I just couldnt get enough of the fiddle," says Lee. "For me, the fiddle growing up was really THE instrument because it was what my grandma played."