Joseph Mcelroy first introduces the Bulsam Mountain Range and it’s wonders. Tim Surrett has a strong connection to the area, his band is even named after the area. He is a member of the award winning Balsam Range. Growing up in that area, nature was the greatest recreation they had. He has fond memories of his father loading up the car and taking the long way as they rode to the Smokies where they would trout fish. Tim’s father was a musician, enjoyed singing country, and introduced him to music at a young age. He was also a fan of his cousin’s band and wanted to join. Tim bought a bass and ended up playing with some of the people that his dad played with. He was able to listen to Raymond Fairchild pay at his school as a child. As an adult he was able to play with him at the historic Cherokee Festival.
Out of high school, at seventeen Tim began touring with a gospel quartet called the Happy Travelers. From there on he fell in love with gospel music and played it for a very long time. The music was popular everywhere. One time he even missed his prom to play in Detroit. The gospel audience embraced all styles, country gospel, bluegrass gospel and more. What was most important was the message and that the music was good. Tim tells us about his knowledge and love of the Cherokee Gospel.
Tim was able to sing for the Kingsmen with Eldridge fox and Ray Reese. His first time singsing at the Grand Ole Opry was with the Kingsmen. People in Canada would drive six to eight hours to hear these performances. He played in Ashford at a festival called Bell Shares where they had a large audience of farmers and hipsters.
In 1991 Tim and his friend Mickey Gamble formed a new recording company called The Mountain Home Music Company. There’s so much bluegrass and gospel in the area but he’s begging to see more artist. One of the artists that stands out to him is Bryan Sutton. Tim met him while he was still a high school student. Tim thinks bluegrass feels the most authentic to him. The synth era of the 80s drove him closer to bluegrass, he has a greater emotional connection to it. Tim spoke of his experience with Balsam Range. When they formed the band in Canton they hadn’t known each other for long. They had so much fun on the two records that they worked on that they decided to meet up and play together a few times. After getting together in 2007, Buddy Melton asked them if they wanted to join him for a show he was asked to play at. They were a hit and they decided to play together more.
When they named themselves Balsam Range they believed that they would only be a local group. At first they were going to call themselves the Great Balsam Range but though Great sounded too pretentious. All of the members are singers so there is not a single lead singer. They have a lot of variety in their arrangements. Their latest album is AEONIC. There is a new record in the works and their newest single is Rivers, Rains, Runaway Trains. Unfortunately Tim predicts that there will not be many live shows and things will be similar to the rest of 2020. Since last march he has only played three shows. Right now they are using this time to focus on their music. Every December they host their own festival, the Balsam Range Art and Music Festival. It is usually hosed in the Stuart Auditorium which is an indoor facility. Usually their guest will travel from across the country and internationally but in these times that won’t work out. Tim Surrett currently has a radio show on WPTL Radio called Papertown Roots Radio. It airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm EST and can be found on Facebook as well.