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Retired Marine, Tom Burtt is another one of those "Yankees" that have been adopted by Rocky Branch. Tom's a whiz with the harmonica, and you'll usually find him in the Coopers' room wearing his apron that has a pocket for every harmonica key he may need.
Matthew Taylor is the 15-year-old son of Scott and Deborah Taylor, has is one of Rocky Branch's most promising young musicians. He's competed -- and won -- numerous competitions in mandolin and guitar, and was recently selected to participate in a major music seminar in Savannah, Ga. He's a serious student, having studied under flat pick champion Steve Kaufman and local bluegrass star Roscoe Morgan.
Tony Brewer is a familiar face at Rocky Branch, often jamming with many of the younger musicians. While he says rock 'n' roll was his first music of choice, he's also adept at country and bluegrass. During the Christmas season, you can find him outside Wal-Mart working the Salvation Army kettle while playing the banjo.
Perry Cooper is comfortable playing either the mandolin or the fiddle. He can usually be found playing bluegrass gospel in the Gospel Room or old-time and reels, jigs and hoedowns in the Fiddle Room. If you really like old-time music, you'll want to see him jamming with Joshua Felker on mandolins.
Steve Davis is one of nicest folks you'll ever meet at Rocky Branch. He's an upright bass player with Crossroads Gospel Bluegrass, which performs at church services throughout East Tennessee.
To say Rebecca Furniss is multi-talented is akin to saying an octopus is multi-legged. She plays fiddle, mandolin, banjo, upright bass, piano, pennywhistle and we're almost sure that there's something we're missing. Rebecca hails from Madisonville, TN but spends Saturday nights in Townsend where she is a member of the Riverstone Bluegrass Band at the Riverstone Restaurant.
Joshua Felker probably knows more old-time music than anyone at Rocky Branch -- or if he doesn't, he will soon. That's because he spent a lot of time with the extensive record collection owned by his grandfather, a disc jockey. He's at home in the Gospel Room, the Fiddle Room, in the gym or just jamming with just about anyone.
Junior Jeffers is one of the regular guitarists in the Coopers' room where he plays mostly mountain music. But there's more to Junior than you might realize -- we heard him cut loose on a few '50s era rock 'n' roll songs and oh what a neat vocalist he is!
Casey is another familiar face among the 20-somethings who pick at Rocky Branch. He's a knowledgable musician who can pick -- and sing -- with the best of them. Our favorite? Ask him to do "Old Slewfoot."
Dillan is one of the young pickers who always lights up the room when he picks his banjo. He loves bluegrass -- and it shows -- in both his picking and his singing. He's a member of Check Engine, a trio with Frank Bronson and Thomas Cook. He's recently begun learning the banjo.
You won't find Gordon Heaton's name anywhere on the sheet music or credits for "Waltz Across Texas," but there are plenty of locals who say he was the one who wrote the song that made Ernest Tubb famous. He will often sing that song when prodded by Ben Cooper, and he's also an accomplished dobro player.
J. EARL BALDWIN
His name is Earl --- and early country -- is his musical preference. But Earl can pick and sing bluegrass with anyone. He can knock those Waylon and Merle songs out of the park, and often does whenever he and his buddy Jack Wilburn are playing with their band, Ten Gauge.
Jack Wilburn is one of those locals who can pretty much play any instrument put before him -- and play it well. Whether it's blues harmonica, Gibson-powered country or rockabilly boogie (in the style of The Killer), Jack is one of those young men who always draws a crowd. He and Earl Baldwin make up Ten Gauge, a local country band.
Emma Taylor first showed up at Rocky Branch more than a year ago carrying a pink Martin guitar and a song in her heart. This talented 9-year-old isn't afraid to get up before an audience and sing such standards as "My Grandfather's Clock." She is part of the Chilhowee Mountain Band with her 16-year-old brother, Matthew, Mom Deborah and Dad Scott.