About Our Band
(Photo Credit: Doug Berry)
Cindy S. West
Cindy S. West, leader and female vocalist for the group, born in Danville, Virginia, October 11. At the age of 5 we relocated to Roanoke, Virginia. My grandfather lived with us and always loved to tune in to the WDBJ television station to hear the “Top of the Morning” program with Don Reno and Red Smiley. This was my first exposure to bluegrass music and I always enjoyed watching the program with him. My love of music comes from my grandfather’s side of the family. Most of my relatives on his side play an instrument of some kind and sing. Mama said I’ve been singing since the age of two. My favorite song was “Wake Up Little Susie.”
We moved to South Hill, Virginia when I was 9 years old. That is where I met some talented musicians and began to pursue my love for music. I always loved to sing in the school choir and could often be found at recess singing under a tree for my friends. In the early 70’s I formed the group, Cindy and the Critters after being asked to entertain at the opening of the new Mecklenburg Academy. Shortly after that, we changed the band name to Appalachian Express and added several new members.
Over the years, we entered numerous contest and I was blessed to win Virginia State Female Vocalist 5 times for the Virginia Folk Music Association (VFMA). I was also honored to be crowned Queen of Country Music for the VFMA by Elizabeth Taylor.
I am married to one of the original members of the band, Earl West, bass player and bass singer. We have been married for 31 years. We have three daughters (by Earl’s first marriage) and five grandchildren. I am currently employed with Dr. Wayne Morris, D.D.S. and his son Dr. Kendall Morris, D.D.S. in South Hill, Virginia. I’ve been a dental assistant for 25 years and still love my job.
I also love to read, crochet, quilt, and knit. I have always enjoyed keeping my hands busy and sharing my handmade items with those I love. Earl and I attend Concord Baptist Church in our hometown, Chase City, Virginia and enjoy the fellowship with our church family.
I am very thankful and blessed to have met many wonderful people through bluegrass music. Many have touched my heart in a very positive way. I look forward to meeting and making new friendships in the future. As I always say, “Keep a song in your heart.”
Earl West was born in Mecklenburg County, Virginia and resides there still. He spent 10 years singing with the Virginia Harmony Quartet, a local gospel group. He became involved in bluegrass music years ago when a friend looking for a bass player gave him a call. He went to help out and it became a full time position in the group. Earl is one of the original members, the oldest, nicknamed, Fossil by the other members.
Earl plays a 1976 Englehart Upright Bass which he purchased from Statler Music Company out of Reidsville, N.C. and presently plays a 2011 Emenence Upright Electric Bass purchased from Gollihur Music out of Sewell, New Jersey. His Electric Gallien-Krueger Bass Amp was purchased from Sam-Ash Music Company in Raleigh, N.C.
Earl is one of the bus drivers for the group, the mechanic, and the groups main person to perform bus restorations. We are thankful he is multi-talented in a lot of ways. He is currently retired from public work, but enjoys working at home in his shop where he restores and builds street rods and vintage automobiles.
Earl is married to Cindy, female vocalist and leader of the group. They have 3 lovely daughters (by Earl’s first marriage) and five beautiful grandchildren. All of whom make us very proud.
Some of Earl’s favorite bluegrass musicians and influences include Larry Sparks, Travis Lewis, Barry Bales, and the group Hot Rize. Earl enjoys watching movies, family times together, restoring vehicles, and eating good home cooked meals. His love of music comes from his mother’s side of the family.
He attends Concord Baptist Church in Chase City, Virginia and enjoys the fellowship with his church family. He is also a Vietnam Veteran. (1966-1967)
Bobby Thompson was born in Richmond, Virginia on January 20th. and grew up on a tobacco farm near Victoria, Virginia where he still resides with his wife, Brenda. They have one daughter, Jessica and a son, Brian and two grandchildren. He is one of the lead singers and MC for the group. He became involved in bluegrass at an early age while listening to his older brother and some friends. He remembers his older brother playing guitar on Sunday afternoons and how excited he would be when they ask him to sing a song while they played.
Bobby always loved to listen to Little Jody Rainwater over WSVS in Crewe, Virginia. He was on that station for many years and always played a mixture of bluegrass and country western music. When Bobby was 12 years old, his dad bought an old Harmony guitar and it wasn’t long before he was joining in with his brother and friends. It was during this time that the family purchased their first television set. He loved to tune into all of the musical shows out of Nashville every Saturday night.
After hearing Sonny and Bobby Osborne sing “Rocky Top” he was hooked on bluegrass from that day on. He thought that was just about the best music he’d ever heard. Bobby said, “There is nothing that compares to the feeling I get playing bluegrass and it seems that the more I play, the more I love it, especially being able to meet so many new friends and fans at festivals, parties and shows.”
Bobby plays a 1974 Martin D-35 guitar and is known by the band as the “Peacemaker" of the group. He’s easy going and tries to keep everyone happy. He joined the group in 1976 and is a real asset to the band.
Some of his influences in music are the Osborne Brothers, The Country Gentlemen, Flatt and Scruggs and Charlie Monroe. Bobby loves spending time with his family, music and raising cattle. He retired from the Norfolk-Southern Railroad after 36 years of service. He drives for Abbott bus lines on week-ends when available and attends the Church of the Nazarene in Victoria, Virginia.
Clyde Bailey plays banjo for the group and sings most of the parts as needed. Raised in Keysville Va., his dad’s side of the family is where he received his musical influences and musical abilities. He learned to play guitar from his dad and while playing in a family band, he moved to banjo. He was asked to play banjo with Appalachian Express around 1978.
During the time AE was off the road, he free-lanced playing with other groups including The Country Gentlemen, Bill Harrell, Jeanette Williams, Kenny Epps, Chief Powhatan, Kenny and Warren Blair, George Thomas and Friends and Northridge to mention a few. He and Vernon Hughes teamed up with Michelle Nixon and started a very successful local group called Local Exchange where they played together for about seven years.
The banjo pickers that have been the biggest influence on Clyde are Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe and Sonny Osborne. Clyde’s favorite song isn’t a Bluegrass tune at all. It is Louis Armstrong’s version of “What a Wonderful World”. He currently picks a 1963 Gibson RB250 Flathead, a 1947 Martin D18 or a custom Arnold guitar and a custom made F5 Style Mandolin. His hobbies are collecting instruments and farming.
Clyde currently resides in Amelia Va. with his wife Sue and son Christopher. Clyde is a member of Sandy Creek Baptist Church in Deatonville Va. and gives his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ all of the thanks and credit for the ability to perform and play music.
Tim Peade, born and raised in Halifax County, Virginia plays mandolin, sings lead, tenor and baritone. He comes from a long line of family musicians. Introduced to the guitar by his dad, Lacy Peade, original member of a family band called Stony Ridge. Tim was five years old when he and his brother Ken would pick on the living room floor. Tim and Ken would eventually carry on the family band name.
As a teenager Tim learned to play the mandolin and used his talents to play various festivals, concerts and private events with Stony Ridge who produced two albums, "Coal Miner's Woman" and "Blaze of Glory." Later joining Lower Forty Grass, he travelled thirty-eight states performing for the military.
Tim's love for gospel music led him to spend eighteen years with the Falling River Bluegrass Gospel Quartet who produced two recordings. Due to work schedule issues the group disbanded. Tim continued to use his talents helping local artist with concerts and charity events.
Currently Tim has found a home with Appalachian Express. Picking with such a talented band, he feels blessed he is able to contribute to some of the best down home bluegrass and gospel music around.
For booking, please contact Cindy S. West (434) 372-4596 or Clyde Bailey (434) 390-7070
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