Musician Bios

John England :: guitar & vocals
Gene "Pappy" Merritts :: fiddle & vocals
Tommy Hannum :: steel guitar & vocals
David Spicher :: bass & vocals
Walter Hartman :: drums
Neil Stretcher :: piano & vocals

John England (guitar & vocals) has played and sung with Loretta Lynn, the Pointer Sisters, Andy Griggs, Carrie Newcomer, Pianosaurus, and the Kadillacs, among others. He's performed in venues ranging from the Waldorf-Astoria to CBGB's (New York), Billy Bob's (Ft. Worth, TX) to the Royal Albert Hall (London, England).

Gene "Pappy" Merritts (fiddle & vocals) is a legend in Nashville, having played with country music greats like Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, Patsy Cline and Benny Martin. He's performed in person for Presidents Nixon and Ford, and for troops in Korea during the war. His many TV and radio appearances include the famous "WWVA Jamboree" from Wheeling, WV, and for an unbelievable 24 years, he was featured in Opryland's "Country Music USA" show.

Tommy Hannum (steel & vocals) The chief producer at Queen Mary Studios, Tommy’s gigged with Emmylou Harris, Ricky Van Shelton, Vince Gill, Jeannie Sealy, Vern Gosdin, and Clay Walker. He’s featured on records by stars like Tammy Wynette, David Allan Coe, Steve Earle, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Whew!

David Spicher (bass & vocals) The son of fiddle king Buddy Spicher, David’s performed with Nickel Creek, Crystal Gayle, Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea, the Jerry Douglas Band, the Nashville Symphony, and the Nashville Swing Band.

Walter Hartman (drums) Born in East Tennessee and a graduate of Boston's Berklee School of Music, Walter moved to Nashville, and quickly became one of the most sought-after drummers in town. Jack Greene, Jeannie Sealy, the Coasters, the Drifters, Lee Greenwood, Dr. Hook and Unknown Hinson are just a few of the names on his resume.

Neil Stretcher (piano & vocals) A featured act in Vegas showrooms and small jazz clubs, Neil’s also been a sideman with acts as different as Milton Berle and Lefty Frizzell. During his 14 year run on the Grand Ole Opry, he played with stars like Hank Thompson, Pee Wee King, Chet Atkins, Gene Watson, Steve Wariner, and Johnny Russell.


About Western Swing

Western Swing is a hybrid of musical styles first popularized in the American Southwest during the late 1930's. It allows for plenty of improvisation by soloists as well as some pretty fancy ensemble playing.

The biggest name in Western Swing music is Bob Wills. With his twin fiddle sound, his famous "a-ha!" holler, and great band, the Texas Playboys, Bob was as popular in Texas, Oklahoma, and California from 1940-1960 as a musician could be. With the help of great musicians like Eldin Shamblin, Leon McAuliffe, Tiny Moore, Tommy Duncan, and Johnny Gimble, Bob's band set the standard for Western Swing music with its driving rhythm, great picking and singing, and all around entertainment.

Other great names from Western Swing's heyday include Pee Wee King, Hank Thompson, Merle Travis, Spade Cooley, and Tex Williams. Contemporary stars who keep the Western Swing flame burning include Asleep at the Wheel, George Strait, Merle Haggard, and Willie Nelson.