A Nostalgic Glance Back to the The Expedition Show Circa 2010 -2013
For several years this was the official website for the Bluegrass band,The Expedition Show, with Blake Williams, Blake Williams, Wayne Southards , Kimberly Williams and Alex Hibbitts.
Content is from the site's 2010 -2013 archived pages, as well as from other outside sources.
ABOUT THE BAND
The unique and entertaining musical journey of The Expedition Show blends tight vocal harmonies, white-hot picking, and side-splitting humor into a fast paced, non-stop, crowd-pleasing show! One of the fantastic surprises of this veteran
group of musicians is the original songs and fresh sounds combined with old-school traditional spirit. Critically acclaimed master musicians and singers trained by the forefathers of bluegrass and the legends of the Grand Ole Opry have forged into a
very special musical experience!
Blake Williams, Wayne Southards , Kimberly Williams and Alex Hibbitts offer unlimited options with their performances. With the traditional, high-lonesome vocals of the International Acoustic Music Association's 2009 "Male Vocalist of the Year", Wayne Southards, and the contemporary, songbird-style of Kimberly Williams, this band touts two of the finest lead vocalists in professional music today. Grammy-winning banjo player, Blake Williams is a master comedian and can work an audience into the palm of his hand with his wit and delivery. Toss in the mandolin prowess and energy of Alex Hibbitts, and you have an unprecedented entertaining band!
Nominated in 2005 and 2007 for the International Bluegrass Music Association's "Emerging Artist of the Year", The Expedition Show is as personable as they are talented, believing the audience comes first. It really is quite simple...
The Expedition Show is the real deal!
Expedition Show - Stormy Horizons
Review Available on Amazon Music
Banjo picker and founding member Blake Williams shared this quick overview of the album: We ve always put great thought into providing a true listening experience with each project we ve released through song selection and arrangements. Wayne, Alex and I all contributed original songs to this project but we ve also reached back and recorded songs by Hank Williams, Sr. and Earl Scruggs. And the title cut was a song we d heard Jim & Jesse do for years that was co-written by Ira Louvin. This is our 7th CD as a band and as with all of them, Tim Crouch adds some amazing fiddle and we were also honored to have our dear friend Phil Leadbetter play dobro of 3 tracks. The Wayne Blake mentioned is the band s guitarist, Wayne Southards, and Alex is their mando man, Alex Hibbitts. Rounding out The Show is Kimberly Williams on bass. --Bluegrass Today
The Expedition Show
THE EXPEDITION SHOW
Mountain Fever Records
October 2nd, 2011
Not only are the members of the Expedition Show veterans individually, the ensemble is nearing its tenth birthday under one name or another. On The Expedition Show, its first release since 2008’s Brand New Set Of Blues, the quartet demonstrates solid professionalism, considerable skills, and smart arrangements. The Expedition Show often exploits a certain tension between classic and contemporary bluegrass to wonderful effect. Similarly, they prove a hundred percent as comfortable with the progressive drive of Northern Light’s “Northern Rail” as the traditional gospel of “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.”
During the early years of this century, the quartet released four CDs in as many years, hosted the first three years of the Franklin, Ky., music festival, toured Japan, and developed a schedule with a hundred dates per year. Best known to bluegrass folks for his long tenures on banjo with Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe, Blake Williams, aka the “Sparta Flash,” has also played bass for Mike Snider, Patty Loveless, and others. Guitarist and singer Wayne Southards made his mark with Memphis’s Tennessee Gentlemen before settling in Music City in 1990. Kimberly Williams plays bass and handles much of lead vocals with confidence. Alex Hibbits handles mandolin as well as tenor, bass, and baritone vocals, plus recording and mixing the album. The ETSU graduate, who joined in the fall of 2009, is also a veteran of Alecia Nugent, the Midnight Ramblers, and several others. Tim Crouch, a fine Kenny Baker-inspired fiddler from Arkansas who has appeared on most of the Expedition Show’s albums, again guests on this one, as he has with everyone from Dolly Parton to Cedar Hill. Crouch’s style perfectly fits the band’s exploration of the classic and the contemporary.
Blake contributes five songs and tunes, written solo. Wayne wrote “My Love For You Is True” and co-wrote the opening cut, “Backroads And Little Towns,” with Blake. Otherwise, the Expedition Show picks from such varied sources as the Louvin Brothers, Northern Lights, the Carter Family, and Jason Wilbur from John Prine’s band. The Expedition Show is built to thrive on this kind of diversity because the band is happy to sound like itself rather than following trends. Wayne and Kimberly give the two excellent and quite different lead singers that empower the Expedition Show’s facility for both old buegrass and modern bluegrass. That facet is even reflected in the cover photo and in the lyrics of the first track.
The band closes with one of Blake’s comedy compilations. This features some killer material, but the sound quality is below that of the music tracks. That diminishes the close of a quite good album with strong singing, playing, and songs. (Mountain Fever Records, 1177 Alum Ridge Rd, Willis, VA 24380, www.mountainfever.com.)
Random Notes: The night we saw them perform, Somona was out of sorts, having just comforted a friend who had just realized she was conned out of $65,000, and there was nothing she could do about it. The victim was a woman in her 70's who had hired con man George Binakis to renovate her luxury condo. The con required George to gain complete trust and sympathy - he told a tale of a serious heart condition requiring a pacemaker and constant monitoring. So complete the con that when George Binakis disappeared with her money, her first thought was concern for him. Did he die? Was he suffering? The cops say it's a civil dispute, so George might get away with this. While I was enjoying the show Somona was being bummed by her friends misfortune, but it would probably have been worse were it not for the music. This is not a review, it's a thank you.
Backroads And Little Towns
Posted on February 7, 2011 By John Lawless | https://bluegrasstoday.com/
The first single from The Expedition Show, the self-titled debut album from… you guessed it… The Expedition Show, has been sent to radio. The full CD is set for a February 28 release on Mountain Fever Records.
The group features Blake Williams on banjo, Wayne Southards on guitar, Alex Hibbitts on mandolin and Kimberly Williams on bass. Blake, Kimberly and Wayne worked together with Bobby Clark as Williams & Clark Expedition from 2002 until Bobby left in 2009, at which time they reconstituted as The Expedition Show.
Blake has a long history in bluegrass, having worked for both Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt in his youth. He explained a bit about what he learned from the masters, and how he incorporates those lessons into the new group.
“When we started this band, we wanted to be different from anyone else out there. With Wayne and Kimberly both singing lead and harmony, we immediately offer a variety for the listeners and we also write a lot of our own songs. And another thing we wanted to do was to put on an entertaining show. When I worked with Lester Flatt back in the 70’s, he made a point to call his performances a ‘show.’ Every time he stepped on stage, he set out to entertain and not just perform but give that audience a ‘show,’ and I learned very early on that if you can entertain a crowd, not just play to them, then you’ve done what you’re supposed to do when you’re on stage.
I’ve always thought if people were laughing, they’re forgetting their troubles. If you aren’t smiling or laughing throughout our show, then we’re not doing our job as entertainers.”
Mark Hodges at Mountain Fever is happy to have The Expedition Show come aboard, and described the difficulty he faced in choosing a track to push forward in advance of the release.
“We had a real dilemma when choosing the first single for this record. The whole project is really great and offers so much variety with traditional and contemporary styles, original songs and standards, up-tempos and ballads, even a gospel quartet number. But we finally selected Backroads And Little Townsbecause it truly represents what The Expedition Show is all about, down-home personalities, great picking and singing and wonderful, original writing.”
Mountain Fever Records Releases New Music From
The Expedition Show
"Stormy Horizons" Hits Radio Today!
Willis, VA (February 19, 2013)—Mountain Fever Records is proud to announce the release of new music from The Expedition Show. "Stormy Horizons", the first single from the band's soon-to-be-released CD of the same title, hits radio today.
Consisting of Blake Williams on banjo and vocals; Wayne Southards on guitar and vocals; Kimberly Williams on bass and vocals; and Alex Hibbitts on mandolin and vocals; The Expedition Show has been a fan and festival favorite since their beginning in early 2002 as Williams & Clark Expedition. During the band's nearly 12 year tenure, the entertaining group has been nominated twice by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) for Emerging Artist of the Year (2005 and 2007), Wayne Southards has won the International Acoustic Music Association's Male Vocalist of the Year award (2009) and Blake Williams has been nominated three times for Entertainer of the Year by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (2007-2009). The band has performed all over the world including a tour with country music artist Darryl Worley to Japan as well as an extensive headlining tour in Canada. In addition, the band was invited to perform for the historic Ryman Auditorium's "Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman" concert series. In between all the touring, the quartet also released six projects before signing with Mountain Fever Records in 2011.
Their first CD released on Mountain Fever Records, The Expedition Show (Feb. '11), stayed on SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction's Most Played Albums chart for 13 months (May '11-Mar. '12) reaching the #1 spot in October 2011. It also reached #3 on the Roots Music Report Top 50 CDs (Sept. '11) and #7 on BMP's Top 10 CDs (April '11). The project produced three chart-topping songs; "I Can't Keep You In Love With Me" which reached #1 on SiriusXM Bluegrass Junction's Most Played Songs chart (Oct. '11); "Backroads And Little Towns" which remained in the top 10 on the same chart for five months (Dec. '11 - May '12); and "Storms Of Life" which stayed in the Top 10 on the Powergrass Radio Bluegrass Gospel chart for three months reaching #4 in May '11.
"'Stormy Horizons' was brought to the band by Wayne [Southards]," explains Expedition band member Blake Williams. "The song was written by Ira Louvin and Iris Franks and recorded by Jim & Jesse & The Virginia Boys many years ago, and is so beautifully written with some of the most captivating lyrics I've ever heard. We made a few changes to Jim & Jesse's version to make it fit our style a little more such as using 4/4 bass on the choruses and instrumental breaks as opposed to walking bass throughout the whole song. Wayne and Kimberly duet on the versus and Alex adds baritone to the choruses. And of course, we brought in Tim Crouch, who has played on all our records, to do some triple fiddles. The response from fans and DJs to our duets has been a strong point for us in the past and we're really happy with the way this song turned out."
"The Expedition Show proves that the best is yet to come for them and for us," states Mark Hodges of Mountain Fever Records. "The duets Wayne and Kimberly have done in the past were really good but they hit it out of the park with 'Stormy Horizons'. After the success of their last record, I've been chompin' at the bit for more and this entire album really delivers." "Stormy Horizons"
The title track of the upcoming Expedition Show album, Stormy Horizons, is released today to bluegrass radio. It’s their revised arrangement of a Jim & Jesse classic from 1960, with a decided Louvin Brothers vibe.
The 12-track project will include new songs from band members Blake Williams, Wayne Southards, and Alex Hibbitts, along with a number of bluegrass classics.
Williams, a former Blue Grass Boy, is on banjo, along with his charming and talented wife, Kimberly, on bass, Southards on guitar, and Hibbitts on mandolin.
Blake shared a few comments about the single.
“Wayne suggested we record Stormy Horizons for this CD, which was written by Ira Louvin and Iris Franks and recorded by Jim & Jesse & The Virginia Boys many years ago. The song itself is so beautifully written, with some of the most captivating lyrics I’ve ever heard.
We made a few changes to Jim & Jesse’s version to make it fit our style a little more, such as using 4/4 bass on the choruses and instrumental breaks as opposed to walking bass throughout the whole song. Wayne and Kimberly duet on the versus and Alex adds baritone to the choruses.
And of course, we brought in Tim Crouch, who has played on all our records, to do some triple fiddles.
The response from fans and DJs to our duets has been a strong point for us in the past, and we’re really happy with the way this song turned out.”
Review: The Expedition Show – Stormy Horizons
FEBRUARY 14, 2014 BY STEVE SCHREIBER | https://hvbluegrass.org/
New expeditions of discovery and exploration are frequently marred by bad weather, uncertainty, disease and a breakdown of the human condition. Not so with the latest exciting release from The Expedition Show! May of 2013 brought the listening community Stormy Horizons and the only fever in evidence is a welcome one in the form of Mountain Fever Records, the recording studio and label for the release. With nothing to prove and everything to share, Blake Williams on banjo, Kimberly Williams on vocals and bass, Wayne Southards on vocals and guitar and Alex Hibbitts on vocals and mandolin, supported by Tim Crouch on fiddle and Phil Leadbetter on dobro bring us 12 exquisitely performed and recorded tracks solidly rooted in Bluegrass with a touch of swing, occasional gospel and the Blues.
Stormy Horizons experienced strong popularity and airplay on the SiriusXM radio network shortly after it’s release last May. Eight original tracks and four well-chosen standards make up the program. Blake Williams’ expert banjo work is in clear evidence throughout and with 30-plus years as a professional performing bluegrass musician, (10 of which were with Bill Monroe), it’s no surprise that he contributed six of the CD’s original tracks. Stormy Horizons is recorded and mastered in standout fidelity. Each instrument can be heard in pristine, warm clarity, with the overall mix bright, three dimensional and balanced throughout. Even in the car with excess background noise from driving, sparkling highs and rounded, woody bass jump from the speakers. The vocals are easy to hear, understand and sing along with. A well programmed selection of tracks delivers a really entertaining set, with each tune standing on its own and surprising us with something unique, joyful or compelling.
Stormy Horizons opens with “Cheating Game of the Blues” which is an original penned by Mandolinist Alex Hibbitts. Right from the start we are launched into a great Bluegrass listening experience with unique fiddle fills, interesting instrumental breaks and vocal stories with tales to tell. Blake’s first of six originals, “Rambler Like Me.” occupies the Track #2 slot. Kim’s lead vocal contemplates life on the road, backed up by strong harmony in a tasteful arrangement featuring nice interplay between cross-picked guitar and fiddle. We are treated to some shining breaks from banjo, guitar, fiddle, and mandolin. Track #3 brings us a gospel themed tune in ¾ time. “Paradise City of God” is a solid take with vocals-forward singing and a sparking mandolin solo. Next, we cinch up our seatbelts and pull our hats down a bit for “Dryland Farmer” as the band takes us on an instrumental excursion through a minor key atmosphere of snaky, winding solos. Tim Crouch’s fiddle work is excellent on this tune. He provides a great supporting back drop to the other instrumental breaks, and his own solo contains a flurry of notes that can only be a dust storm or even tornado! With the storm over, another Blake Williams original called “World’s Greatest Picture” treats us to an intimate, perfectly recorded ballad with Kim singing solo backed only by guitar, (played by Blake.) Track #6 gets things active again with the bluegrass standard “Gotta Travel On,” reminding us what we love about this music – stories of life set to a crisp, driving rhythm section and hot instrumental breaks. Up next, the title track of the CD “Stormy Horizons” is a Jim and Jesse tune (written with Ira Louvin) that experienced immediate popular airplay when it was released as a single in February of last year. It’s easy to hear the words, and as is evident throughout the release, the harmonizing vocals fit like a glove. Blake Williams appropriately takes the lead on banjo for Track #8 with Earl Scruggs’ “Foggy Mountain Special.” The Expedition Show band swings this 12 Bar Blues number with a really killer mandolin solo and a break from Phil Leadbetter on dobro. Like all the tunes in the program, it’s well placed in the set creating an element of surprise and fun. Is it jazz or is it bluegrass? YES!
Getting a bit more serious Track #9 “Take the High Road” is the second faith-themed tune on the release with nice guitar accompaniment from Wayne. “Low Down Cryin’ Shame” in the Track #10 spot is unique – a haunting, brooding tune in ¾ time lamenting the woes of cheating and lying in a failed relationship, with lost love and false hope holding the singer’s heart prisoner. Phil Leadbetter’s dobro, and Alex Hibbitts’ hard-driving mandolin double stops provide short but fitting bluesy commentary to the sad story. Track #11 written by Wayne, “He’s the One For Me,” says “Don’t worry! It’s not all bad!” and takes us on a funny, partying, happy romp to a wedding day. It is definitely the polar opposite of Track #10 in both song theme and music. The band swings us to a satisfying end of Stormy Horizons with the Hank Williams tune “The Blues Come Around” in which we hear some call and response in the arrangement and solid walking bass from Kim.
A masterful release both in performance and audio fidelity, Stormy Horizons is enjoyable, accessible to many and a great example of not just bluegrass but acoustic music in general.
An accomplished musician on several instruments, BLAKE WILLIAMS has been a professional bluegrass musician for over 34 years. He first toured with Bobby Smith & The Boys From Shiloh fresh out of high school and soon moved into the role of banjo player for Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass until Lester’s death in 1979. Blake went on to work with the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, for 10 years, making him Monroe’s longest tenured banjo player. In 1991, Blake was given the opportunity to play bass with comedian, Hee Haw star and Grand Ole Opry member, Mike Snider where he stayed until 2001. During his career, Blake has toured 48 states and 7 countries, played Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Lincoln Center. He recorded 2 albums with Lester Flatt and 6 albums with Bill Monroe for which one of them, “Southern Flavor”, won the first Grammy for “Bluegrass Album of The Year”. You can hear Blake’s bass work on 5 albums with Mike Snider and 2 live videos as well. He has also performed on projects by Patty Loveless and Vince Gill. Blake has recorded three solo projects and performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry for over 23 years. In addition to his musicianship, Blake is an excellent master of ceremonies and one of the best country comedians in the business. He has also enjoyed songwriting success having his songs covered by Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass, Rhonda Vincent and Williams & Clark Expedition. He is a 3-time nominee for “Entertainer Of The Year” by SPBGMA (Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America) and graced the cover of Banjo Newsletter in May, 2008. In May 2009, Sparta, TN unveiled new city limits signs declaring Sparta as "Bluegrass USA" and the home of Blake Williams.
A native of Texas, KIMBERLY moved to Nashville in 1992 after beginning her love for music with her family’s band where she sang and played mandolin. Kimberly has performed demos as a vocalist for top songwriters and publishers in Nashville including Gerald Smith, Vern Gosdin, Hank Cochran, Tom Collins Publishing, Co-Heart Music, and Muy Bueno Music and had a guest appearance on a Mike Snider gospel album. Kimberly put her skills in concert and event production to work when she secured a job as producer for Gaylord Entertainment’s Opryland Productions and Grand Ole Opry Group. During her 7-year tenure with Gaylord, Kimberly produced shows and special events for Opryland theme park, including the popular “Sundays In The Park” event series that included a monthly bluegrass jam, gospel and songwriting events. She managed the Roy Acuff Theatre and booked entertainment for 7 lounges in the Opryland Hotel and Resort. In addition, Kimberly produced convention concerts for some of the biggest acts in music including Lee Ann Rimes, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Ricky Skaggs, Alison Krauss, Chicago, Reba McEntire, Huey Lewis and the News and Stevie Wonder. She has enjoyed 2 guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and in 2005, opened her own company, East Public Relations, with a focus on affordable tour support and publicity for bluegrass artists.
Won the International Acoustic Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year award (2009). Bluegrass Guitarist and vocalist.
Alex Hibbitts grew up in Grundy, VA, learning mandolin, guitar, and bass from the area’s numerous musicians. At 17, he joined Randy Kohrs and the Lites on mandolin, and since then, has performed with Alecia Nugent, New River Line, and The Midnight Ramblers – a group with which he toured the United Kingdom in 2009 and Germany in 2010. Along the way, he graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting and a minor in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music. He has spent the past four years as the mandolin player for The Expedition Show, including recording the band’s two most recent releases on Mountain Fever Records. Hibbitts now makes his home in Sevierville, TN, where he operates the Depression Lies Recording Studio.