The mandolin’s popularity was in decline in the 1920s when the Gibson Mandolin and Guitar Company introduced the F-5 Master Model, and Gibson hoped the F-5 would revive interest in the mandolin. It didn’t, at least for the time being. The mandolin was still declining in popularity when Bill Monroe bought a 1923 Gibson F-5 from a Miami barber in the early 1940s. Monroe took his new prize possession to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Evan had been taking Classical violin lessons for several years when he discovered Country fiddle music, especially the Orange Blossom Special. Friends at school asked him to join their Bluegrass band, Smokewood. During a rehearsal in 1973, Smokewood’s banjo player, Jonathan Bluemel, handed Evan a mandolin for the very first time. It was love at first sound.
Evan continued his Classical violin studies alongside his pursuit of excellence with the mandolin in a Bluegrass context, and then discovered the Italian mandolin tradition while in college. These factors and others have contributed to Evan’s multi-faceted personal style, but his love for Bluegrass music has never diminished. Between 1992 and 2005 Evan performed over 10,000 shows with a Bluegrass-and-comedy show at Disneyland. He continues to play Bluegrass with his brother John in Billy and the Hillbillies and also The Fiddlin’ Marshalls. Recently Evan has teamed up with Brian Oberlin for a Bluegrass/Swing/Classical duo; their first duo CD, Twin Mandolin Slingers, was released in 2015.