Adam Steffey, Ron Stewart, Gary Hultman, Keith Garrett and Harold Nixon make up the group “The Boxcars.” With collective stints with Alison Krauss & Union Station (Adam Steffey), J.D. Crowe & The New South (Ron Stewart, Harold Nixon), Blue Moon Rising (Keith Garrett and Harold Nixon), and most recently The Dan Tyminski Band (Steffey and Stewart), this quintet starts out with an impressive rap sheet. Award winning instrumentalist Ron Stewart will deliver rock solid banjo work, but will also lay down the banjo for the fiddle on some tunes. It’s always a rarity to have multiple strong vocalists in the same group, and The Boxcars benefit from strong vocal performances from Keith Garrett, Ron Stewart, and Steffey’s signature baritone. They are on Crossroads/Mountain Home.
An East Tennessee native, he found a place in the Tennessee-Virginia border area’s thriving bluegrass scene in short order, serving early stints with the Lonesome River Band (Tyminski was his replacement there) and then helping to found the near legendary group, Dusty Miller, along with Barry Bales and guitarist Tim Stafford. The three jumped to the big time together when Alison Krauss recruited them into Union Station, and for nearly seven years, Steffey lived the life of a high profile musician, as the band earned Grammy awards and IBMA trophies, toured extensively, made national TV appearances and recorded albums that reached far beyond the core bluegrass audience. Yet by 1998, the restless side of Steffey’s spirit made itself felt when he left the group and, after helping to lay plans for what would become Mountain Heart, joined bluegrass gospel favorites The Isaacs—a setting in which he played a different, though no less important role.
Ron Stewart is well on the road to becoming a legend in contemporary bluegrass music. He is already one of the most sought after multi-instrumental session players in the genre’s history, and is in high demand as an engineer and producer. Stewart grew up in rural southern Indiana, an hour and a half from the famous Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom bluegrass festival, surrounded by a family that played bluegrass and oldtime country music and a community rich with musicians. In his thirty-three years of playing banjo, fiddle, guitar, bass, and mandolin, Ron has gone from fronting his family band for over ten years to working with a who’s who of bluegrass, including Lynn Morris, Curly Seckler, a guest appearance at age nine on a live album with Lester Flatt, and, most recently, a six-year stint as fiddler for JD Crowe and The New South, followed by a stint as a member of the Dan Tyminski Band. Notably, Ron engineered much of and played fiddle on The New South’s 2006 release, “Lefty’s Old Guitar,” which is nominated for a Grammy.
Keith Garrett grew up in the community of Citico in East Tennessee. His earliest and possibly most important musical influence was his dad, William Garrett, who taught Keith to play the guitar at the age of thirteen. Almost immediately he was drawn to the music of such greats as Tony Rice, Keith Whitley, the Bluegrass Album Band, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and Ricky Skaggs, and he soon began playing with various local and regional bands. In 2000 Keith became a founding member of Blue Moon Rising, an East Tennessee based bluegrass band that received national acclaim and was nominated for “Emerging Artist of the Year” in 2006 by the International Bluegrass Music Association. As a member of Blue Moon Rising, Keith continued to hone his talents and earned himself a place alongside some of the best singers and songwriters in bluegrass.
Gary Hultman grew up on the Canadian border in the small town of Birchdale, Minnesota. When introduced to bluegrass music by way of a traveling music teacher, Hultman’s family formed a band that he played with from the age of 10 until he left home to attend East Tennessee State University. As a member of their Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies program, Hultman has had the opportunity to share the stage with many of his musical heroes such as Adam Steffey, Tim Stafford, Doyle Lawson, and Ricky Skaggs. Gary also traveled to Japan with ETSU’s Bluegrass Pride Band for a short tour during the summer of 2014. Another opportunity where Hultman has also been able to further his musical education is through attending Rob Ickes’ ResoSummit in Nashville where staff members Michael Witcher, Sally VanMeter, and Rob Ickes have been especially influential to him.
Harold Nixon has been a working musician since he was 15 years old, and has had an intense interest in recording almost from the beginning. With a keen ear and a rock solid sense of rhythm and timing, he has gained the respect of the very best in the business, eventually leading to a six year stint with JD Crowe and the New South, touring in the band and appearing on the 2008 Grammy Nominated record “Lefty’s Old Guitar.” Some recent work with Blue Moon Rising has kept him in the spotlight the past couple of years.