In the early 1990s, Tim Surrett and Mickey Gamble teamed up to form The Mountain Home Music Company, an imprint of Crossroads Entertainment and Marketing. “Tim plays bass and vocals for Balsam Range,” says Ty Gilpin, who handles the marketing for Mountain Home.
Tim is a North Carolina native, born and raised in Canton. Music has always been a big part of his life, and he views music as a ministry. The label he and Mickey founded is now considered one of the premier labels in bluegrass, with artists including Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, The Grascals, The Lonesome River Band, The Boxcars, Crowe, Lawson, and Williams, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, and Tim’s band, Balsam Range.
Ty explains that Crossroads goes back forty years or more. “We have a range of artists, from Southern Gospel to bluegrass and Americana.” The company was established in 1993 when the Horizon Music Group and Sonlite Records merged. The Crossroads Label Group operates the Mountain Home Music label, Skyland Records, Pisgah Ridge Records, Crossroads Records, and Mountain Home’s sibling imprint, Organic Records.
“Organic leans more toward the Americana world,” says Ty. “Jeremy Garrett did a bluegrass record on Organic, but he also did a genre-defying album. Our motto at Organic is ‘great music, no boundaries.’ But Mountain Home Music is specifically bluegrass, from traditional to progressive.”
Mountain Home Music benefits from Crossroad Distribution, Crossroads Radio Promotions, and Crossroads Recording Studios at the label headquarters and offices outside of Ashville, North Carolina, in Arden. “Artists come to use our state-of-the-art studios,” says Ty. “We update everything every two years, investing in high-end improvements in our studio equipment. Crossroads combines cutting-edge technology with creative innovation, which helps us to connect our artists’ music with their fans.”
The studio has three full-time engineers and three full-time producers, one of whom is John Wiseburger, who also does A &R for Mountain Home Music and is a musician. “We also have a third studio, which we call Studio C, in Burbank, California,” Ty says. “We have a guy there who does mixing as well as work with Dolby Atmos immersive audio, which is a whole new thing we are diving into.” According to the Dolby website, “Dolby Atmos has reinvented how entertainment is created and experienced, allowing creatives everywhere to place each sound exactly where they want it to go, for a more realistic and immersive audio experience.”
Over the years, Mountain Home Music Company and Organic Records have become home to a family of artists. “It seems like everybody knows everybody in the bluegrass world,” laughs Ty. The musical family at Mountain Home Music collectively creates music that forms part of the core of the operation.
“Bluegrass has really expanded over the past few years. While traditional bluegrass is still as popular as ever, the genre has a more adventurous side. And there are people from different generations, geographical areas, and with different musical styles who play bluegrass.”
Bluegrass at the Crossroads is a series of unique encounters between some of those artists. The collaborative efforts are a fresh take on bluegrass classics and new songs that reflect and engage with today’s world.
Featured artists now on Mountain Home Music are Fireside Collective, a progressive bluegrass group from the Asheville area: Phil Leadbetter, a seasoned resonator player with an impressive career history; and The Cleverlys, a genre-bending comedy/bluegrass band from the Ozark Mountains near Cane Spur, Arkansas. The New York Times said the group was as “if Earl Scruggs, Dolly Parton, and Spinal Tap spawned a litter of puppies.” They are all accomplished musicians, and putting their unique bluegrass spin on cover songs from any genre is the faux-family band’s schtick.
Recent releases include a new single by singer, songwriter, and mandolin player Darren Nicholson. “Leave It in the Hands of the Lord” recalls his experience following his departure from Balsam Ridge, the band he played with for 15 years. Carley Arrowood, a rising young bluegrass artist, recently released her debut album on Mountain Home Music, Goin’ Home Comin’ On.