Cross Ties-Musical Band from Blacksburg, USA
CalcuttaTube presents Cross Ties, a musical band from the Blacksburg, VA, USA. The band has completed its musical journey of almost two decades. The band members have their own specialties and expertise in different instruments that create a unique blending of the verses, instruments and melodies. We got an opportunity to talk to Timmy Mills, one of the guitarists at he Blackburg Street Fair, 2009. The others musicians of the band are Criag Willoughby (Mandolin, Voice), Craig Counts (Guitar), Tom Snediker (Guitar), Gerry Skendarian (Bass), Pete Hastings (Harmonica). Marc McCleod, the special guest singer, joined in for the number ‘MoonLight’.
Calcutta Tube: How old is the band ‘Cross Ties’?
Timmy Mills: It has been 17-18 years now. I have been here for 15 years or so.
Calcutta Tube: You got so much versatility in your tunes. How do you bring it?
Timmy Mills: The other guys came from rockbands, jazz, blues. I am more in the bluegrass. We all like different kinds of music. So we bring in different things.
Calcutta Tube: When do you all practise? And how? Since, putting everything together is the toughest job.
Timmy Mills: I am pretty much ashamed to say that we have not practised, rather rehearsed in years.
Calcutta Tube: Where is the band from?
Timmy Mills: It is from the Blacksburg (Virginia) area.
Calcutta Tube: Who writes the songs and puts the numbers?
Timmy Mills: Most of the songs are traditional. We do not write very often. Craig has written a few, though. But, most of our songs we get from other sources.
Calcutta Tube: What about the tunes?
Timmy Mills: We kind of go with whatever have been established. We listen to the cds. Sometimes we bring in some improvisations, like we did in the last number. We brought in some fiddle tune. I have not heard anyone else do that. The song goes back hundreds of years.
Calcutta Tube: Do you all have your own cds?
Timmy Mills: We are working on one right now.
Calcutta Tube: How important is it to have schooling in music, if you are trying to play bluegrass?
Timmy Mills: It is more from the heart and soul.
Calcutta Tube: Did you all go to school?
Timmy Mills: Some of the guys have taken classes in music, but I have not.
Calcutta Tube: So, its more you pick it up by ears?
Timmy Mills: Yes. More more from the heart, ears, and hands.
Calcutta Tube: Do you have read notations?
Timmy Mills: No. And you play it so fast that you cannot read it anyway.
Calcutta Tube: What is the name of your lead singer? He is wonderful?
Timmy Mills: It is Craig Willoughby. He is originally from Kansas. He is living here for 25 years.He moved here from North Carolina. He is one of the original members.
Calcutta Tube: Are you doing any other show around?
Timmy Mills: Not really. We do more private shows. We also do some shows for Virginia Tech. We sing here every year. This is one of the very few public shows we do. We used to play in some of the bars. But then we let that go. There was not much to that. This is more fun.