About Colonels Of Truth
The Colonels of Truth are a 6 member high energy bluegrass band out of Seattle. This band wasn’t formed by child hood friends nor was it formed in some magical meeting one night at a bar. Like good whiskey it was distilled over years of playing with many musicians at various jams, house parties, and festivals. These are the guys that at 2 am are the ones that think the jam is just getting going. These are the guys that drive 2 hours one way to regularly go to a jam. They took their time slowly gathering like minded individuals under one banner to create the Colonels of Truth. When these guys get on stage you can tell not only are they talented musicians, but they really enjoy making music together. While these musicians prefer playing bluegrass music, they have highly diverse musical backgrounds from classical, jazz, funk, reggae, Brazilian, and rock and they bring the best of all these styles under one roof, energy of a rock show, precision vocal and instrumental harmonies, off the cuff improvisation, funk and reggae jams. Colonels of Truth play traditional bluegrass standards, appalachian old-timey tunes, obscure newgrass tunes, and original tunes. All of the members are song writers and arrangers, some of them have even won awards in song writing contests, and they bring this creativity to their playing.
Ryan Healy (Guitar, Vocals):
Ryan holds the spot of guitar with the Colonels of Truth. Playing many styles of guitar, his influences range not only from Bluegrass and Irish music but he is also rooted in Jazz, Blues, Brazilian Bossa Nova, and other world genres. His biggest guitar influences include not only great flatpickers like Bryan Sutton, David Grier and Kenny Smith but also jazz and blues players like Charlie Byrd, Kenny Burrell, George Benson, Taj Mahal, Derek Trucks, and the Allman Brothers. Ryan’s trajectory toward bluegrass music was not entirely expected for him. He began playing guitar since the age of 14 when he receive his first guitar (a hand-me-down classical nylon string). He was able to join the high school jazz band. Shortly after high school he immediately moved to Brazil, where he lived for some time, and took lessons from virtuoso guitar player, Gilberto Oliveira and learned about Bossa Nova and authentic samba rhythms. When in college he played in a gigging jazz-fusion and blues band and performed in a blues trio with the now highly regarded New Orleans-based blues musician, Colin Lake. Ryan was eventually introduced to bluegrass in his early twenties and ever since then he has not been able to stop playing the music. Now fully immersed in this wonderful community, Ryan has been commended for his versatility, great tone, improvisation, and ability to collaborate.
Ryan also performs in the Healy & Haggerty Duo with Irish Fiddler, Brendon Haggerty from Portland Oregon. He has played at many wedding ceremonies, and accompanied many local musicians as well as performed with Gypsy Jazz band Trio Nuveau. Recently he has also taken private lessons with one of his guitar heroes Kenny Smith. Aside from music, Ryan enjoys his career as professional school counselor. In his spare time Ryan enjoys spending time with his amazing wife and family, hiking, watching live music, listening to jazz, running and rock climbing.
Mark Steudel (Fiddle, Vocals):
Mark started out playing the violin when he was 4. After suffering through years of Suzuki lessons he decided that we wanted to become Chuck Berry and asked to learn guitar. Somehow he got conned into taking classical guitar lessons, but through his teacher he was introduced to jazz. After that he got an electric guitar and learned how to play jazz. After years of playing in a funk band, he decided to do something with his violin that he moved from place to place.
His first introduction to bluegrass was through Pete Martin (Weiser Adult Fiddle Champion). After getting comfortable with a few fiddle tunes he braved the Seattle jam scene. It was during one of these jams he met Ryan Healy at the now gone Gypsy Cafe. Over the years they would meet up at various parties, festivals, and jams and play fiddle tunes. In 2013 Mark met Paul at the Sweet Lou’s jam, which he had happened to drag Ryan too. Paul invited Mark and Ryan to come over and play at “The Studio” and the rest is history.
Gray Pedersen (Bass):
Gray Pedersen is a Seattle native who started playing trombone and tuba at a young age and ended up with the string bass in high school. In the early 70’s he played with two renowned bluegrass bands in Portland, Oregon. While his teaching career limited his time for live music, he’s now back enjoying the music he loves. “It’s a thrill to get to play such with the excellent musicians in the Colonels of Truth,” he says, and notes, “By joining this band I have significantly raised its average age and simultaneously lowered its total IQ.” Like all of the Colonels, Gray looks for those bluegrass songs in which there is “that surprising and wonderful meeting with jazz or Klezmer or swing or the blues—or anything else we happen to like”
Heath Reinhard (Banjo)
Growing up on the mean streets of New York City, Heath didn’t have a lot of exposure to country and bluegrass music, but, at the age of 20, he heard the snap, crackle and pop of Earl Scruggs playing the banjo for the first time, and his life hasn’t been the same since. While fending off irate neighbors and jealous girlfriends, Heath and his banjo have been inseparable ever since and plan on being so for many years to come!
Marc McKennon (Dobro, Vocals):
Marc began with piano lessons at age eight. After moving to the guitar in high school, it was a chance encounter with the “Strength in Numbers” recording in Boulder, CO that led to the dobro. “The instant I heard Jerry [Douglas] on the opening cut, I knew I had to have it” says Marc. He has since played in several bluegrass and blues groups in Colorado, Indiana, and Washington and even spent a few days studying with Jerry Douglas at the Telluride Bluegrass Academy in the summer of 1994.
Marc is influenced by a great many musical traditions and styles – at any moment he might be listening to Spanish flamenco, Cuban son, Irish bagpiping standards, Indian rags for sarod, Tanzanian kalimba, or Mississippi delta blues from the 20s. In this capacity, Marc is not a traditional bluegrasser and the music he brings to the group reflects this fact. “Hopefully the guys won’t get too fed up with me trying to nudge the band in potentially crazy directions – it’s a kind of musical ADHD” he quips.
As with some of the other band members, Marc met Mark at the Sweet Lou’s jam and was asked to join in the merriment.