Banjo picker Jonah Riddle and his younger brother Grayson both started playing Dobro, encouraged by their granddad, Butch Ball, who had a banjo: “I ended up liking that better,” he told Michael Brantley for Bluegrass Unlimited. “I just liked the different sound, and we watched those old Flatt & Scruggs shows, and then I took lessons for a couple of years.”
Meanwhile, Grayson switched to guitar and says he’s mostly self-taught by “listening to players like Tony Rice and Jimmy Martin.” They’re the heart of the Burnsville, NC-based Jonah Riddle and Carolina Express.
The Riddles’ bluegrass roots run deep: their father, Benjie, who’s been playing bass with the boys, was introduced to bluegrass by his grandfather, who took him to a Bill Monroe concert at Grandfather Mountain. Grandmother Beverly made the boys’ sequined jackets, and their mother, Bethany, handles their booking.
Brantley, Michael K. “Jonah Riddle & Carolina Express.” Bluegrass Unlimited. Feb. 2019: 24-25. Buy it.