Chris Boutwell - Lead Vocals, Mandolin, and Guitar
Chris has been singing and playing bluegrass music since the 1960s, and was a member
of the band "High Country" from 1970 to 1976, when Chris earned a living as a professional bluegrass musician.
High Country has been known as the premier bluegrass band on the
west coast of the U.S. from the early 1970s onward. During his tenure as High Country's lead vocalist, Chris
recorded two albums with the band on Warner Brothers Records. After moving
to South Carolina around 35 years ago, he has been a fixture on the bluegrass scene in the
Palmetto State. Chris has played in numerous bands over the years, including High Country,
Amick Junction, High Lonesome, Anna and Shellie Davis and the
Unnamed Bluegrass Band, and the Claude Lucas Band. You're sure to enjoy Chris' smooth vocals.
He is a walking encyclopedia of bluegrass knowledge, and you will be challenged to find another
vocalist who knows the lyrics to as many songs as Chris does. Chris was selected as the 2014 Recipient of South
Carolina's Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award for his contributions to preserving traditional
bluegrass music. Chris is a founding member of Palmetto Blue.
Shellie Davis - Bass and Vocals
Shellie Davis is no stranger to the bluegrass music scene. She has been playing the bass and singing in bluegrass bands
since she was 8 years old.
Shellie played in the band Anna and Shellie Davis and
the Unnamed Bluegrass Band, and made her first studio recordings when she was 10 years old. Shellie keeps a rock-solid
beat, and can sing sweet harmonies and has her share of songs on which she sings lead vocals. Although Shellie is
rooted in the time-proven bluegrass traditions, she also keeps us on
our toes by bringing current songs to the band. She also encourages us to experiment with non-traditional material such
as bluegrass takes of Beatles songs or working up a Mumford and Sons song. When she's not playing the bass and singing
with Palmetto Blue, Shellie spends her time as a student at Clemson University, where she's majoring in Pre-Med and was a
founding member of the Clemson Bluegrass Ensemble. She excelled in high school academics
and extracurricular activities, and was the Student Body President and among the top students in her class. Even though
she's a full time college student these days, she still finds plenty of time to be an integral part of our band.
Shellie is a founding member of Palmetto Blue, and we are proud to have her as a member of our band!
Steve Willis - Banjo
Steve Willis has been playing banjo since the mid 1970s. At age 15 he bought a $98 banjo from K-Mart, and was
and was soon hanging out with Little Roy Lewis on Tuesday night tapings of their Lewis Family show on TV station
WJBF in Augusta, Georgia, learning banjo licks from Little Roy. It wasn't long before he had saved enough to get
a better banjo. He was soon playing with Ed Hurt and the Cross Country Express, which included award winning fiddler
George Pritchard. During his teenage years he played banjo for radio commercials and won several first place titles in
banjo contests. He got to play banjo for Mac Wiseman on a show, and was joined on stage by banjo legend Don Reno
for a few numbers. In his early 20s, raising a family took priority, and Steve put his banjo down
for nearly 30 years. We are glad that he has picked it back up again! His solid style is deeply rooted in the
Scruggs tradition. Steve is a founding member of Palmetto Blue.
Ella Thomas - Fiddle and Vocals
Ella began playing the violin at the age of four when she enrolled in the University of South Carolinaís
Suzuki program and with a private teacher in 2007. She continues to thrive as a classical student in this program
and the local Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. In 2013, however, her musical approach began to
broaden when she attempted to learn an arrangement that employed fiddling technique, but she encountered some
difficulties in mastering such a diverse style of playing. Fortuitously, an article in
The State newspaper featured an award-winning fiddler named Ashley Carder, who frequented Billís Pickiní Parlor.
At the next available opportunity, Ella visited the Pickiní Parlor and met a regular, Van Price, who taught her a
few bars of a popular fiddle tune. Since then, Ella was able to meet Ashley Carder and has benefited greatly from
his expertise and insight. She also takes weekly fiddle lessons with Kristen Harris, another state-champion and
old-time musician, and continues to add folk and traditional melodies to her repertoire. In 2017, Ella won first place
in the South Carolina Junior Fiddle Championship. After guesting with Palmetto Blue for several years, Ella joined us as
a permanent band member in 2017. In 2018 she won third place
in the Youth Old Time Fiddle category at the prestigious Galax Fiddlers Convention in Galax, Virginia. In 2019 she place first in the
Youth Old Time Fiddle category and second in the Youth Folk Song category at the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention in Mount Airy, North Carolina.
Ella also is part of her family band, The Thomas Family, with her parents and her two brothers.
Ed Dalton - Guitar and Vocals
Ed Dalton has been playing the guitar since his childhood
growing up in the Winston-Salem, NC area, where his dad would take him to bluegrass jam sessions.
Ed grew up surrounded by bluegrass and old time music, where his dad played in bands with the likes of
Joe Greene. Ed's grandfather was also a fiddler. Ed contributes some fine flatpicking guitar and
vocals to the group, and has won several guitar contests over the years. Since moving to South Carolina, he has been a fixture on the bluegrass scene
and has played in several regional bands. Ed has been with us since January 2016, and we are proud to have Ed as a member of the
Palmetto Blue team!
Ashley Carder - Fiddle
Ashley has been playing bluegrass and old-time music for over 35 years
and has played in various SC bluegrass bands including
Bill Wells and the Blue Ridge Mountain Grass, High Lonesome,
Anna & Shellie Davis & the Unnamed Bluegrass Band, Old Growth String Band, and The Blue Iguanas.
Ashley's style of fiddling is rooted in the old time and early bluegrass traditions. Ashley is a 2012 recipient of
South Carolina's Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which was also awarded to his fiddling mentors,
Homer "Pappy" Sherrill in 1988 and Vernon Riddle in 1999. Ashley has been called upon to do presentations on traditional
fiddling for college folklore classes, music clubs, public schools, youth groups, and college campuses in South Carolina and North Carolina.
Ashley is a founding member of Palmetto Blue.
Marty Carrigg - Dobro
Marty Carrigg joins us on dobro when he can, adding a sweet touch behind Shellie's vocals, and
some nice dobro breaks throughout our shows. He has been involved in bluegrass music since his teens
back in the late 1970s. Marty was a member of Southern Land and Cattle Company in the late 1970s and early
1980s, and recorded an album with them. Since then he has been a member of High Prairie Cowboy and currently
plays dobro and banjo for Flatland Express. Marty helped out with some dobro on our latest CD. He can also pick a banjo with
great skill and has been there to fill in as our banjo player during emergency situations.
We all love Marty's tasteful dobro playing and are glad to have him as a member of our Palmetto Blue team!
Darryl Hudson - Vocals and Guitar
Darryl Hudson grew up in Warrenville, South Carolina listening to country music and watching The Lewis Family on Sunday afternon on WJBF
in Augusta, GA. He got his first guitar at the age of 9 and played country and southern rock music into his teen years. Just out of high
school he landed a job as a disc jockey at country music radio station WVAP in Langley, SC and found a pile of old bluegrass albums in
the back room that seldom got played. One listen to a Flatt & Scruggs album and he was hooked on bluegrass! Darryl bought an upright
bass and started playing bluegrass music in 1983 and played guitar and bass in various groups around the Aiken-Augusta area. Now living
in Aiken, South Carolina and playing guitar, Darryl sings lead and baritone vocals. He is also a long time and founding member of
Savannah River Bluegrass. Darryl joined us in 2018 and we are happy to have him as the newest member of the Palmetto Blue team!