Fifth Wheel Bluegrass Band is an award-winning ensemble with a unique, "Almost Bluegrass" sound. The band features it's original vocal and instrumental music using the traditional fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass, with influences from 60's and 70's rock, folk, and folk-rock. Fifth Wheel also plays hard-core Bluegrass music and has been heavily influenced by Bill Monroe and Del McCoury. All five band members sing which gives the band's vocal arrangements many possibilities. They have a great sense of fun and have performed at everything from company picnics, county fairs, private parties, weddings, and coffee houses. In 2001, the band placed 2nd at the Topanga Banjo Fiddle Contest, the premiere California bluegrass event. Fifth Wheel released it's first CD Almost Bluegrass in June 2007. Eleven of the thirteen tracks are original vocal and instrumental works. Almost Bluegrass was recorded live to maintain the authentic flavor of a genuine Fifth Wheel gig. "It's us on a good night!" The band members are Rene Miller, fiddle, Jim Morrison, mandolin, Tom Harmon, guitar, Terry Reagan, banjo and Kris "Olive" Howe, bass. If you enjoy listening to original bluegrass music as much as this group loves writing and performing it, you are guaranteed to have a great musical experience! Meet the Band! Rene' Miller plays the fiddle, sings harmony and lead, and has written a couple of tunes. She is a native Southern Californian where she still resides. She started playing classical violin in grade school but had a love for old fiddle tunes. In fact, she is still playing the fiddle her parents bought for her back in high school. Music was important part of her growing up. After a 12 year break from playing music after college it came back into her life after a chance meeting with a friend that was learning Bluegrass banjo. Bluegrass has been a tremendous joy in her life ever since. Her strongest influences have been Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs and Del McCoury. The festivals and friendliness of other musicians have had a great influence on Rene' and she says that they have greatly affected her life for the better. Jim Morrison plays mandolin and guitar, sings harmony and lead and does most of the band's vocal arrangements. He has also written music for the band. Jim was born in Los Angeles and raised in Culver City. Jim started playing accordion at age 6, played all the reed instruments during elementary and high school. Guitar playing started at age 13 and mandolin at the tender young age of 48! Jim presently resides in West Covina, California. Some of Jim's early influences are The Dillards, Smothers Brothers, Kingston Trio, Beatles and Rolling Stones. During high school Jim played with a folk group called the "Young Fellers" that toured in a show called Hootenanny that played all over the Southwest. Jim was inactive in music for 20 years before becoming a part of Fifth Wheel and thinks that it is "fantastic" the music is in his life again. Kristine "Olive" Howe, another true California native, plays upright bass, sings lead and writes music. In her early years she played classical piano and learned guitar when she became interested in folk singing. Some of musical influences are Janice Joplin, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and, more recently, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerard, Ginny Hawker and Lynn Morris. In the early seventies she sang folk songs with another female vocalist at parties and places around town. Kris credits Southwest Bluegrass Association member Tom Lister, whom she met at her second Bluegrass festival, for getting her hooked on the upright bass. She was drawn to the sound of the bass and Tom kindly introduced her to the instrument. That was in 1999 and she has been having a ball ever since. Terry Reagan was born in North Carolina and grew up in Burbank. He is the banjo player in the band. He also sings lead and harmony. As a kid he wanted to play the guitar but his parents got hooked by a door-to-door accordion salesman. Terry later learned how to play the guitar and has added banjo and mandolin to his musical abilities. He was influenced early on by Elvis Presley, Johnny Horton, Johnny Cash, chet Atkins and The Ventures, Beach Boys and BB King to name a few. Terry enjoys playing Swing, Blues, Pop and Jazz in addition to Bluegrass. Terry expresses a sentiment that speaks for the whole band saying "I love the joy and happiness music brings and I enjoy all the great friends I've met through Bluegrass. Tom Harmon, a fourth generation Los Angelean, plays guitar, sings lead and harmony and occasionally plays fiddle on twin fiddle songs. He started playing guitar at 8 years old. His father owned a gas station and a customer was returning from Las Vegas with no money for gas, but had a Stella guitar. The customer got a tank of gas and Tom got the Stella guitar! Tom learned to play guitar by listening and playing along with influences such as The Kingston Trio, Limelighters, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Lightning Hopkins and The Dillards. In college (USC) he played with a jug band. Tom loves to flatpick the guitar and play Bluegrass fiddle tunes and listen to Django Reinhardt.
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