It was back in 1945 that a group of McCallie students got together and began singing and playing a brand of Bluegrass music that has gone on now for more than 65 years. The name "Dismembered Tennesseans" seemed good enough a name for a bunch of teenagers who had no long range plans, and they sang their way through school.
But somehow the music never stopped, and the band stayed together for the next 65 years, singing and laughing their way across the country - from Florida to Washington to Ohio and Colorado and points between. They played for every local civic group in existence, every charity, and most of the conventions in town looking for cheap entertainment. They have also played at the Annual Chattanooga Riverbend Festival and at Kennedy Center.
The 3 Sisters Festival Bluegrass on the River is held annually in Chattanooga, Tennessee and is a free concert presented by Chattanooga Presents which brings in big-name Bluegrass artists mixed with local talent.
The group has appeared on stage with many of the top bluegrass music stars and has performed in concert with the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra and the Chattanooga Boys Choir, and more recently the Chattanooga Ballet. They have appeared on a segment of ABC-TV's Peter Jennings Nightly News and were featured on the NBC Sunday Today Show. Their audiences have been composed of such celebrities as Chuck Yeager, Sam Nunn, Gerald Ford, Jack Kemp, and three Tennessee governors. Easily one of the most popular bands in hometown Chattanooga, they have made their mark singing bluegrass music for people who don't particularly like country music.
Fletcher Bright is the fiddle player and spokesman for The Dismembered Tennesseans. An accomplished musician, he has taught several Bluegrass fiddle for more than 18 years at several workshops across the country including Canada and England. In 2005, Fletcher received the Tennessee Governor's Award in the Arts (Folk Heritage Award). He recently graced the cover of Fiddler Magazine (fall 2007) and was interviewed for the feature story. He is a Realtor-shopping center developer, and pilots the plane that has transported the band on its performing tours across the Southeast. Fletcher often says, "I love to fiddle and love to teach. I will play with anyone who asks and am always good for another jam session."
Doc Cullis is the banjo-playing orthodontist (now retired) who can sing, but mercifully doesn't. It is often said about his performance, "That's the best you've ever played that tune; but that's a shame after 50+ years." Doc also teaches banjo. Doc has a long career with the band, being one of the original members. Doc's 5-string style is a delightful combination of Earl Scruggs and the more recent melodic style.
Laura Walker joined the band several years ago making a historic switch to coed status. She is a vocalist and plays the bass fiddle. Laura has her own individual project CD "Piney Rose" and another project in the works. Laura says, "to me, music is alive. It is a wonderful feeling when you sing to a crowd of people and know that you can make contact with each individual."
Bobby Martin plays guitar and is also performs vocals. He provides the band's ground transportation. Once quoted, "A lot of our material is just what we like to do. That's what sets us apart. We don't try to do top 40. We are a collective. We're all friends and that's what makes it fun."
Don Cassell plays the mandolin and performs vocals. Don says, "It's all a lot of fun. That's why we all do it. We are the newer history of the band and hope to see it grow and continue. To be able to relax, play music and have fun together goes along way."
Brian Blaylock is the newest member to the Dismembered Tennesseans. He plays mandolin and dobro. He is a multi-talented musician also playing banjo and guitar. Brian has played at the World's Fair in 1982, in Japan with the Country Gentleman in 1996, 28 states and 3 bluegrass cruises.
Fletcher Bright's son, George Bright, plays flat top guitar with the Fletcher Bright Fiddle Band, but he is also involved in production of Dismembered Tennesseans with The Three Guys Records.