The “A” List Players

The “A” List Players

 The Fascinating Story Behind the Band and the “Rough Edges” Live CD Recording

In 1994, Eddie Collins and his group, The High Stakes Rollers, began playing the fourth Sunday of each month at Artz Rib House, a legendary venue for live music in Austin, Texas. The original members of that group were Eddie on banjo and guitar, Wes Green on mandolin and Clayton Elliott on upright bass. The band specialized in bluegrass with a Texas twist.

Meanwhile, Eddie was serving as the president of the Central Texas Bluegrass Association, writing articles for numerous national music magazines and beginning to give music instruction workshops throughout the U.S. He got to know many top players through these connections and would invite them to be a “special guest” on the fourth Sunday at Artz gig if they were in the area. The list of special guests, which includes many Austin notables as well, has grown to more than 60 over the years.

Like many Austin musicians, Eddie, Wes and Clayton became involved in several other bands and eventually Eddie continued the fourth Sunday tradition as “Eddie Collins and Friends.” Some nights would have special themes, such as “Tomorrow’s Stars,” which included Ruby Jane Smith just as she turned 13 and Sarah Jarosz when she was 14. “Songwriter’s Night” included life-long friend Paul Sanchez and Danny Santos, to name a couple.

One particular combination of guests clicked especially well: Mike Montgomery on fiddle, Tom Ellis (Ellis Mandolins) on Bass and Billy Bright on mandolin. After nearly two years of playing together, the group became The “A” List Players. The tradition of inviting special guests continued and on one such night, January 24th, 2010, Jeff Robertson (Robertson Guitars) was invited to be the lead vocalist/guitarist.

Mike and Billy met Jeff for the first time that night. Tom had jammed with him. Eddie had played one gig with Jeff and from that drew up a list of possible tunes and keys and emailed them to everyone. Without any rehearsal, the band performed around a single Studio Projects microphone, blending their instruments and vocals as they went. By all accounts of those who were there, it was a magical night of music.

Luckily, two of Eddie’s students, Danny and Maureen Cole, happened to be in attendance in the front row and recorded the entire show on a hand-held Olympus Digital recorder. From this, Eddie created separate “tracks” without any touch up or overdubbing. The end result, “Rough Edges,” provides the listener with a “live” experience as though he or she is sitting in that front row seat — complete with jokes, intended or not, spontaneous applause for worthy solos, a waitress trying to get an order right over a blazing bluegrass piece — it all comes through! We hope you enjoy the show and join the legions who are saying, “Now, that’s bluegrass!”

The “A” List Players: “Rough Edges” CD Song List

Click on a highlighted tune to hear the song in its entirety.

1. Big Spike Hammer

2. Freeborn Man

3. Sitting Alone In The Moonlight

4. Bluegrass Stomp

5. Doin’ My Time

6. I’ll Fly Away

7. Banjo Jokes

8. One Way Track

9. Get In Line Brother

10. Bring A Friend

11. Man Of Constant Sorrow

12. Dark Hollow

13. Little Maggie