Ed Schaeffer & Rattlesnake Hill
Jack Sanbower Banjo and Vocals

Among the many thousands of bluegrass performers across the USA very few actually have their roots in the Blue Ridge Mountains where rural American string band music was born.   Jack Sanbower is the real McCoy, having been born and raised in the shadow of South Mountain, right in the heart of the Appalachian range.   It has been rumored that Jack lived so far back in the hills at Smithsburg Maryland that the Grand Old Opry didn't reach in there 'til Wednesday night!   But reach him it did, and we are all the richer because of it.

Born September 14, 1960, Jack was raised in a musical family and he mastered the guitar and the bass at a young age.   From this foundation he moved on to the five-string banjo, studying the music of Don Reno, Ben Eldridge, Eddie Adcock, Bill Emerson and other prominent five-string pickers of the day.   Within a few years, Jack had developed his own style of banjo picking and it was not long before folks in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area began to sit up and take notice of this young firebrand.

Jack's apprenticeship as a professional musician came as a member of local bands such as The CB Pickers, CC & Company, Chestnut Ridge and The Bluegrass Image-the latter featuring Jack on 3 of their albums and a 45rpm.   It was also at this time that Jack made his very first solo project, called Just Monkey'in Around.

In between his musical work with these groups Jack took an interesting assortment of day jobs to support his young family, including work as a deck hand and oil field roughneck in Texas, as a wide load long-haul pilot car driver, a taxi driver and as a late-night radio disc jockey spinning country and bluegrass songs.   These experiences not only kept food on the table but undoubtedly shaped Jack's musical outlook, providing him with a genuine education in the trials, frustrations and joys of the common American working man-experiences that have contributed significantly to his fertile treasury of original bluegrass compositions.

In 1990, Jack gathered up these collective experiences and formed his own group, The No Leeway Band.   One of the tightest and freshest sounding bands in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. area, No Leeway was soon performing at major venues and festivals from Maine to Florida.   Over the next 15 years, the band produced 10 albums for the Buck Hollow label.   At this point Jack was not only rehearsing and arranging the band, but also serving as its business agent and bus driver.   As if this did not keep him busy enough, Jack managed to earn a college degree in computer design and website development and used those talents to good effect marketing and promoting the band.   Still he found time to compose and record dozens of original songs-some of them hitting the national charts.   By this time The No Leeway Band had shared the stage with virtually every major artist in bluegrass, and Jack himself was often invited to play on specially featured dual banjo sets, including stage appearances with Buck Trent, The Lost & Found and Dan Paisley.

In 2001, Jack partnered with Baltimore singer-guitarist-songwriter George Garris to record Same Ole Fools.   The album garnered national attention and is still featured on bluegrass radio shows world-wide.

Jack joined Rattlesnake Hill in March of 2006 and continues to dazzle audiences with his lightning fast and tasteful 5-string playing, as well as serving as the band's on-stage cheerleader-infusing an incredible amount of energy and excitement to all of our shows.   Behind the scenes, Jack serves the critical role as arranger for most of the band's material.

Critics have had a lot to say about this genuine bluegrass original over the years:

Maryland's Five String King
-- Country Plus

Jack Sanbower is a real master of the five-string banjo.   Sanbower's personalized banjo style stands out as daring and clever, yet sturdy and sound.   He's a picker as good as they make 'em.
-- Joe Ross, Bluegrass Now

[an] imaginative banjo player, and his picking is bold and adventurous and often exciting . . . Stellar Renoesque. -- Bluegrass Unlimited

Of the younger generation of bluegrass entertainers... Jack Sanbower is one of the great ones of this generation.   Definitely an under-rated banjo player, look for great things from this gentleman. -- Lee Michael Demsey, WAMU-FM Radio, Washington DC

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