Balsam Range is one of today’s leading edge Bluegrass bands, accruing numerous number one songs since their inception in 2007. The band has been nominated for several International Bluegrass Music Association awards, winning the 2011 IBMA Song of the Year Award for “Trains I Missed.” These five instrumentalists and vocalists are each accomplished and awarded personally, uniting together to create an infectious blend of Bluegrass, Country, Gospel and Folk that has captured the ears and hearts of many fans across America.
Balsam Range consists of Buddy Melton, Marc Pruett, Caleb Smith, Darren Nicholson and Tim Surrett. While each member has an impressive list of credentials in Bluegrass music, Tim Surrett is most recognizable by Southern Gospel fans, having travelled with The Kingsmen Quartet for many years. Surrett takes a few moments to chat with SGM Radio about the band, his family and his faith.
Balsam Range records a mix of secular and Gospel songs on their albums, a tradition that continues with their latest album, Papertown, a recording that was number two in PopMatters Best of Bluegrass 2012 and also in CMT Edge 10 Favorite Americana Albums of 2012. These accolades bring even more attention to a band with a very busy schedule. “There is a lot going on these days,” says Surrett. “We are heading into the busy season for Bluegrass. Our latest album Papertown is the current number one album in Bluegrass, with three of the singles going number one so far. One of those is “Row By Row,” which was a number one Gospel song for us. We are playing extensively, and spreading out a bit more than we intended. That is a good thing, though!”
“Balsam Range has been together for six years now,” says Surrett. “Hard to believe! We came together as a result of two of the guys doing solo records. I ended up playing bass on both projects, and we had so much fun that we decided to get together and just jam a little. Immediately we knew something was going on! The second time we got together, one of the guys said that he had gotten a call about doing a show, and did we want to do it? We did the program, and it just took off from there.” A favorite vocalist and instrumentalist in Southern Gospel, Surrett’s fans don’t seem to have any problem with his transition to secular Bluegrass. “I have never gotten any flack about playing in a secular group. We do a lot of Gospel programs and churches and I have continued doing solo church programs when able to do so.”
Surrett enjoys playing with the guys of Balsam Range and the camaraderie of the group is evident onstage. The group is as much known for the sweet, country tenor of Buddy Melton as it is for the engaging MC work and humor of Surrett. Surrett says, “I do my best to make that as interesting or funny as possible. I had some great teachers in Jim Hamill and Squire Parsons. Hamill was so honest with the audience, he was just hysterical at times. Squire taught me that just because you are both southern and rural, you don’t have to come off like Larry The Cable Guy.” Surrett laughs, “I secretly like him!”
As a member of Balsam Range, Surrett has an opportunity to touch the hearts of listeners who might never have heard the words of a Gospel song, such as he might have performed with The Kingsmen. “I feel with certainty that God has put me where I am to be a witness to people who would never go to a church or Gospel program,” says Surrett, a strong Christian who works at maintaining and growing in faith. “I try to read the Bible as much as possible, sometimes on my phone or Kindle, however possible. My pastor, Jackie Collins, is a great Bible teacher. I love to learn something every time I go to church!” Surrett says, “My goal is just to be a better [Christian], which means showing Christ, not talking Christ.”
It is important to also maintain a strong family unit even with the heavy demands of a tour schedule. Surrett says, “We pray. I am gone more than I care to be, so every day home has to count! I have a great wife and an awesome son who is about to turn five. Until now I never really cared about how much I was gone. Not the case any more!”
Surrett also has strong support from Christian friends. “People send me verses via text messages every day, and I love how they are always spot-on with whatever is happening for me that day. I’m not even surprised any more!”
Tim Surrett and Balsam Range have successfully created a niche for themselves in the world of Bluegrass and Americana music, performing music that engages all ages and attracts the ear of fans of all genres. As they appear at venues across the nation, Surrett has one wish for the audience of Balsam Range. “I would hope that wherever people heard me play, that they knew that I meant every word.”
For more information on Balsam Range visit http://balsamrange.com/
For more information on Tim Surrett click on https://www.facebook.com/tim.surrett.9
SGMRadio enjoyed visiting with Tim Surrett, vocalist and instrumentalist with Balsam Range, as we continue our feature entitled “In Depth With”. We will try to allow you to get to know your favorite artists just a little better by asking questions you may have always wanted to ask. If you have a favorite artist please email us and tell us what you would like to know about them! Email here: firstname.lastname@example.org