Blue Roots (Profiles in Bluegrass Music): The BixMix Boys, Edmonton AB

by Krlmagi

The BixMix Boys play dynamic, energetic bluegrass that draws from many eras and influences to create a rich sound.

The founding members of the BixMix Boys, Darcy Whiteside and Jim Storey, first met at the Northern Bluegrass Circle Music Society in Edmonton. Whiteside joined a band called Maple Creek in which Storry was the bass player and played with them for a few years. The BixMix Boys began to take shape when the fiddler and guitarist from Maple Creek moved to America.

Whiteside says, “I met our guitarist, Logan Sarchfield, at the bluegrass club and I was really impressed by his playing so I asked him to join the band which he did. Eventually we had our mandolin player Terry Nasdasdi join us. He’d played in a band with Jim Storey too.”

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk
Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

All of the band members are described as bluegrass fanatics by Whiteside. He says, “We were all exposed to bluegrass at various ages and become infatuated by the music. All of us listen to it a lot and play it a lot!”

All of the musicians in the BixMix Boys come from different parts of the bluegrass spectrum. Whiteside plays a more traditional style of bluegrass banjo and describes Jim Storey as a traditionalist bass player. He says that Logan Sarchfield and Terry Nasdasdi are more towards the progressive end of the spectrum. He says, “We’ll work up a Steep Canyon Rangers song and then I’ll go into playing a more traditional Scruggs-y role and our mandolin player and our guitar player will play their styles as well.”

Similarly all of the musicians have had a diverse range of musicians who have influenced how they play. Whiteside had a progressive banjo teacher named Jake Peters. He describes him as a recluse but adds that Peters has a strong following amongst a small circle of musicians. He also cites J.D. Crowe, Herb Peterson and Earl Scruggs as influences. He adds, “I would way rather play backup banjo than a solo, so I listen to a lot of backup banjo, even Earl Scruggs playing backup banjo.”

Logan Sarchfield is a phenomenal rhythm guitar player according to Whiteside who admires his focus on rhythm guitar over soloing. Sarchfield has been influenced by the rhythm guitar playing of Dan Tyminski, Tony Rice and Eric Uglam. Whiteside continues, “It has this pushing rhythm that’s really interesting. It makes a very dynamic and exciting sound. It has massive drive and Logan finds a pocket which allows you, as a player,  to be able to play around a lot and play with syncopation.”

Jim Storey’s bass playing has been influenced both by 1970’s bluegrass revival bands like the Country Gentlemen and the Seldom Scene as well as 1950’s bluegrass. Whiteside says, “When he started learning how to play bass he listened to Bob Wills. He sat there with an upright bass and just played walking bass runs over and over again. “

He adds, “The guitar player that we used to have with our old band wouldn’t do a lot of G runs. Jim would do these guitar fills with the bass which is interesting with our guitar player now because they can play off of each other a lot more.”

As for Terry Nasdasdi, Whiteside explains, “He listened to a lot of Ronnie McCoury and David Grisman. He’s also influenced by Big Bill Broonzy and Huddy Ledbetter, some of those early guitar players, which really comes out in his mandolin playing.”

The band’s fiddle player, Tony Michael, has been playing around the Edmonton area for many years and is a legend in that music scene according to Whiteside. He continues, “He ran into our guitar player at a music shop, had heard about our band and asked if he could join us. We were happy to have him and he has more talent than I can shake a stick at. He’s an incredible fit into the band and it’s always great to have a fiddle player.”

Writing songs is a matter of sitting down and working through them for the band. Whiteside and the band have started to focus on arrangements that emphasize the push and pull in the music.  He says, “We’ll sit together as a band every Sunday and practice for two hours. We’ll work up a song over those two hours and then we’ll just play until it’s something that we enjoy playing and hopefully people will enjoy listening to it!”

The musical world can be fickle and bluegrass is going through a dry spell in Whiteside’s view. After the popularity of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” in the year 2000, some festivals and venues have closed up but as he explains, “We’ve sat and talked and we don’t want to sell ourselves short so we’re not going to travel somewhere  to play for $200 at this point in our lives. If the only thing we do is get together every Sunday and play for two hours, we’re happy with doing that.”

The band has recorded one album with the help of Eric Uglam and Whiteside says that they’ve talked about going back into the studio but have concluded that the market’s a little tough for them to sell well. They also recorded a radio show and podcast called The Big Rock Beer Hour for about a year and now Whiteside has a radio show on the Edmonton community radio station CJSR.

Finding inspiration is easy for people as fanatical about the music as the BixMix Boys band members. The close knit bluegrass community has been a big part of that inspiration. Whiteside points out, “It’s such a small community that you can actually talk with your heroes still. I am nowhere near the level of those guys but they treat you like you’re at that level. They’re more than willing to sit with you and share some of their secrets with you or just sit and have a beer with you.”

This band profile is based on an interview conducted with Darcy Whiteside and recorded on March 28th, 2016.

To learn more about the BixMix Boys, visit their website.

Updated: 05/02/2016, Krlmagi
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Mira on 04/06/2016

Hm, it looks like the film was Belgian, not Scandinavian.

Mira on 04/06/2016

Thank you for this. I really became fascinated with bluegrass after seeing a Scandinavian film, The Broken Circle Breakdown. Very sad, but the music was all the more powerful because of that.

I like the music in the video you included. Good luck to the boys!

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