How It Came to Be
"A Jam Session Started It All"
2005 is when the idea of The Country Gentlemen Tribute Band was first born, when Bill Yates, 20+ year member of the Country Gentlemen, Darren Beachley and David Propst met at Cabin Fever Picking Party in Hampton, VA and sang some old and new Country Gentlemen songs. Later, after further deliberation, they decided to go through in creating a project in tribute to the Country Gentlemen. After a search produced the addition of 4 more members, Including the Lead Vocals of Mike Phipps in August of 2005 the Bill Yates and Friends: A Tribute to the Country Gentlemen project was initially started and later was completed and released in December 2006 on the MasterShield Records label located out of Bridgewater, VA. It became an instant hit with fans, friends and fellow musicians alike, so much so that the band started touring. Bill Yates toured with and fronted the band for 9 years until he did tragically pass away the night of Monday, January 26, 2015, from complications due to cancer. He leaves behind a historic legacy of music, having the honor of previously performing with many bluegrass greats down through the years, such as Red Allen, Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, but most importantly the Country Gentlemen.
The current lineup that will be continuing to perform on stage will include: Mike Phipps on guitar and vocals, David Propst on mandolin and vocals, Lynwood Lunsford on banjo and vocals, Kyle Windbeck on upright bass and Darren Beachley on dobro and vocals. This ensemble vows to continue to put its heart and soul into each performance, trying to help satisfy that musical hunger for the multitude of Country Gentlemen fans that still fill this country; especially the ones that truly do miss Charlie Waller & Bill Yates. We will continue to move forward and perform in tribute as closely as possible the tunes from yester-year thought to be long lost for the ages, as they attempt to re-create each tune, vocally and musically as best they can as it was previously originally presented and performed.
Guitar, Lead Vocal
Mike began playing mandolin and singing while in high school. Later, he teamed up with dobro player, Fred Travers (currently with the Seldom Scene), as they performed out in several bands around the Washington, DC area, including the popular Southern Maryland based band, The Dixie Ramblers. Mike later performed with Southern Maryland favorite, Jay Armsworthy & Eastern Tradition, playing mandolin and singing lead/baritone. His love of Classic Country Music and the influence of Bluegrass artists, such as Charlie Waller and John Duffey, contributed highly to his current musical style. Mike's powerful baritone voice is the focus of the band and it lead to Mike being invited to be a part of the “Tribute to the Country Gentlemen” recording project along with former Gents member, Bill Yates. The success of this recording later led to touring and performing shows with the Bill Yates & the Country Gentlemen Tribute Band at multiple festivals and concert venues around the country. Mike currently resides in Owings , MD.
David first got interested in bluegrass music while listening to old 78 rpm records with his dad that was playing off of his granddad’s old wind-up Victrola. They sat & listened to the likes of The Original Cater Family, The Monroe Brothers, The Blue Sky Boys, The Delmore Brothers and Ernest V. (Pop) Stoneman. He attributes his mandolin style from the influences of such greats as, Doyle Lawson, Jimmy Gaudreau, Sam Bush, Buck White, Dempsey Young and Bill Monroe. David is best known for his driving mandolin chops and expert leads, skillfully melding contemporary and traditional influences as to create a style uniquely his own. His own Bluegrass heritage and church singing background has helped him refine his vocal abilities, which range from a strong tenor, to an exciting lead, to a smooth baritone. With more than thirty (30) years of professional bluegrass experience, David has previously performed with such bands as The Puckett Brothers, Leon Morris & the Associates, Excalibur, Special Blend, Second Time Around, Paul Adkins & the Borderline Band, The Fox Family, The Travelers, Fastest Grass Alive, Line Drive, John O’Dell & Windy Ridge, Darren Beachley & the Maryland Line, The Shenandoah Blue Band. David currently resides with his wife in Glen Rock, PA.
Lynwood was born and raised near Roxboro, NC. Coming from a musical family, he was exposed to music early on in his life. Living fairly close to the Camp Springs Bluegrass Park, the popularity of Bluegrass and that festival was the doorway by which Lynwood was exposed to Bluegrass music. It became a fad to start a Bluegrass band and that is exactly what Lynwood’s' dad and two of his cousins did, a group called The Country Cousins. This event was certainly influential in Lynwood’s decision to eventually pursue the music as a career, but the spark that sat him ablaze for the music, was hearing the song "Matterhorn" by the Country Gentlemen! Lynwood began learning the banjo at the age of 14 and just one short year later, was thrust into the banjo job with his dad's band, The Country Cousins. During his six year stint with that group is when Lynwood decided to make a career of performing Bluegrass. By the late '80s, Lynwood had become an accomplished banjoist and became a part of an early version of the James King Band. In 1990, Lynwood was hired by Jimmy Martin, staying with Jimmy for 2 years. In 1991, Lynwood left Martin to join the Lost & Found, spending 5 solid years with the group and subsequently recording 3 projects with them. After taking a year off when his twin sons were born, Lynwood found himself back on the road with the Sand Mountain Boys. While a member of the Alabama based group, Lynwood wrote, and the band recorded, the song "Molly Rose". The song rose to #9 on the Bluegrass Unlimited airplay charts in 1999 and has since been recorded by several other groups, including Jeff Parker. Lynwood fronted his own band, The Misty Valley Boys after the Sand Mountain Boys disbanded, keeping the group going for more than 6 years. When Big Country Bluegrass came looking for a banjo picker, Lynwood joined them and stayed with the group for 9 years and 5 recording projects. In 2017, Lynwood decided to leave the road and assume a semi-retired status and aside from a few fill-in gigs, has mostly stayed close to home. As a youngster, Lynwood always dreamed of being a member of The Country Gentlemen.....sometimes laying on the bed looking at their old album covers, imagining himself in the photographs! In 1991, Lynwood actually filled-in with the group for a show in Kentucky and was offered the banjo job by Charlie Waller. He decided to turn it down because he had just recently joined the Lost & Found and didn't want to put them in a bad spot by leaving. Fast forward to the present and a group of awesome musicians dedicated to preserving the classic sound of The Country Gentlemen. A job Lynwood considers his "dream" job! Lynwood is thrilled at the opportunity to recreate the music that brought him to Bluegrass in the first place! Call it fate, coming full circle or divine intervention.....whatever the case, to him it feels just like coming home!
Resophonic Guitar, Vocals
One of the more seasoned voices and instrumentalist in the world of Americana and bluegrass music, Darren Beachley approaches music like the wide-eyed twenty-something he was so long ago when he began his career. The Maryland native has strung together an impressive and successful thirty-plus-year career in the industry. From the days of playing alongside his mother and father on stage in the DMV area to getting his big break as the Dobro player in Bill Harrells band The Virginians, Darren polished his skillset every step of the way. When he became the lead singer and guitarist for Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver he built his name up to become one of the most recognizable in the world as they performed across the globe at some of the most acclaimed venues such as the Hollywood Bowl and The Grand Ole Opry. He would form Darren Beachley & Legends of the Potomac and achieve new heights with his innovative performances and heartfelt lyrics. His unique and powerful vocals and instrumental stylings have carried him across stages and into the hearts of fans and friends. The next step in his career is another chance to cement his legacy while doing the thing he has enjoyed since the days of his childhood.
Acoustic Bass, Vocals
Kyle hails from Northern Virginia. As a youngster, he followed his dad around in the local bluegrass scene. Starting on the guitar at an early age, adding mandolin, banjo and bass. He won numerous first and second place awards for band, guitar and banjo. After graduating from the Music Conservatory at Shenandoah University with a degree in music and sound, he played mandolin and ran sound with Caleb Bailey & Paines Run. Late in 2021 he joined his favorite band, Sideline, playing bass. Kyle has long admired the Country Gentlemen and is happy to be joining The Country Gentlemen Tribute Band.