Randy Lucas Trio
with Dave Holder and Ella Thomas
About Randy, vocals, banjo, guitar
The stars were aligned, it seems, for Randy Lucas to become one of the best banjo players in South Carolina and to win the 1997 National Banjo Championship. He was born into a family in which his great-grandfather played fiddle, his grandfather played guitar, and his father played banjo and guitar. He was even named after a banjo tune by Earl Scruggs called “Randy Lynn Rag.”
Lucas has been playing his own banjo since the age of 5, and grew up blending traditional bluegrass with a variety of musical influences.
“It’s not just bluegrass,” he says. “When I came up through high school, I heard all the rock n’ roll, all The Beatles, television shows, movies, augmented chords, diminished chords—all that really plays into my music. I sometimes feel like I’m a rock n’ roll player playing banjo.”
That’s part of the approach he takes to his band, The Randy Lucas Trio.
“Some bands you listen to are purist,” he says. “They want to have that high, lonesome sound. But many of the bands today are like me. We’ve heard all kinds of stuff. So when we play, you can call it bluegrass, but some of it’s more high energy.”
About Dave, upright bass
Dave Holder plays upright bass with the group, and from time to time steps out on guitar every once in awhile! Dave is an in-demand musician of many different genres here in the Columbia, South Carolina area. He has probably been a part of, or filled in with, just about every local bluegrass band here in the Midlands, and that is a testimony to his wonderful musicianship and character! Dave lives in Columbia, SC.
About Ella, fiddle
Ella began playing the violin at the age of four when she enrolled in the University of South Carolina’s Suzuki program and with a private teacher in 2007. She continues to thrive as a classical student in this program and the local Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. In 2013, however, her musical approach began to broaden when she attempted to learn an arrangement that employed fiddling technique, but she encountered some difficulties in mastering such a diverse style of playing. Fortuitously, an article in The State newspaper featured an award-winning fiddler named Ashley Carder, who frequented Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor. At the next available opportunity, Ella visited the Pickin’ Parlor and met a regular, Van Price, who taught her a few bars of a popular fiddle tune. Since then, Ella was able to meet Ashley Carder and has benefited greatly from his expertise and insight. She also takes weekly fiddle lessons with Kristen Harris, another state-champion and old-time musician, and continues to add folk and traditional melodies to her repertoire. In 2017, Ella won first place in the South Carolina Junior Fiddle Championship. After guesting with Palmetto Blue for several years, Ella joined us as a permanent band member in 2017. In 2018 she won third place in the Youth Old Time Fiddle category at the prestigious Galax Fiddlers Convention in Galax, Virginia. In 2019 she placed first in the Youth Old Time Fiddle category and second in the Youth Folk Song category at the Mount Airy Fiddler's Convention in Mount Airy, North Carolina. Ella also is part of her family band, The Thomas Family, with her parents and her two brothers.