Lazybirds is a classic American roots band from the mountains of North Carolina. Specializing in good time music that is just about impossible not to move to, there is also a depth to the band that faithful fans have treasured over the years. According to the legendary Doc Watson, “Lazybirds play a good variety of blues, jazz, and that good old ragtime sound, and you will hear the flavor of that in anything they play.” The ‘Birds cover a lot of musical ground, from early American stringband music to Dylan classics, as well as classic sounding originals, but deep roots are what hold all of these sounds together.
Lately the band has been incorporating more original music into the mix. Five of these have found their way onto “American Roots,” the latest Lazybirds recording, but you’ll have to check the credits to know which songs are Lazybirds originals and which are old classics, as the band has been steeping in the American roots melting pot for so long that it flavors anything they do. The band began nearly twenty years ago, when Jay Brown and James T Browne, who had played acoustic blues and folk together in high-school, moved up to Boone NC where they immediately met Mitchell Johnston. Eventually Mitchell became the hard driving bass man who perfectly complimented James’ jazz drumming and Jay’s finger style blues-swing guitar and jazzy harmonica. Shortly afterward they met Andy, who’s rhythmic style opened up more doors for the band. A few years later they were joined by German born fiddler and blues guitarist Alfred Michels who, evidence clearly suggests, is from 100 years ago.
Together they have played top festivals across the southeast, including Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm and Roots, LEAF, Birmingham City Stages, and Belle Chere. They have shared the stage with their friends The Old Crow Medicine Show and Doc Watson, as well as The Avett Brothers, Merle Sanders, and Vassar Clemmens. They’ve been a longstanding favorite in some of the best bars from Birmingham to Boone. Lazybirds is an American classic worth getting to know.
Jay Brown is a lifelong songster hailing from Birmingham, AL. Jay has spent most of the past 20 years in the Appalachian Mountains playing with Lazybirds and earning a music therapy degree, while also recording and touring to support his solo career. Music is a way of life for Jay, and it truly shows. Jay demonstrates his dexterity on the guitar, harmonica, piano, and banjo. In addition to his gift with instruments, he sings beautifully. He has yet to make a musical sound that lacks in purity and integrity.
James T. Browne
James is also from Birmingham, AL. A grade school friend and a musical companion of Jay Brown since 1987, they moved to the northwestern region of NC together in 1993. Here they met Mitchell Johnston and Andrew Christopher, who together founded Lazybirds in 1996. James is a stellar drummer, who sings while drumming. That aint easy! James currently lives in Alabama and travels extensively to tour with Lazybirds, returning home to take care of his farming and carpentry duties.
Mitchell grew up in Charlotte, NC and moved to the hills in 1991. A student of History at Appalachian State University and a music fan, Mitchell teamed up with Lazybirds upon its creation in 1996. He promptly chose music over schooling and began his musical career. He is an old school doghouse bass player, and helps drive the rhythm section for Lazybirds, while also contributing to the band’s vocals.
Alfred is a native of Germany and moved to North Carolina in the early 1980’s. Alfred is a self made man. A homesteader in the northwestern North Carolina Mountains, Alfred rarely has to leave his land … except while touring with Lazybirds. Alfred is one fine craftsman and works for himself as a luthier and farmer. Alfred made the fiddle that he plays regularly, and he also builds violas, cellos, and an occasional Double Bass. Musicians travel many miles to have Alfred repair their stringed instruments.
We call him Andy. A founding member of Lazybirds, Andy was born in Ohio and moved to Durham, NC with his family while still young. Andy found his way to the NC mountains in 1994. There he met Mitchell and the rest of the Birds. Andy contributed on tenor guitar, tenor banjo, banjo-mandolin, and vocals for over 12 years. In April 2009, Andy suffered a condition called Idiopathic Cardiomyopathy. He still suffers from this condition and is no longer physically able to contribute to the Lazybirds’ sound. Andy and his family remain near and dear to the Lazybirds hearts, and he finds his way into the music through each band member.