Surry Line is all about living in the moment whether they are playing Old Time String Band music or plugged into their amplifiers rocking out some Johnny Cash numbers. Surry Line takes pride in doing their part to keep the traditional dance music that is found in the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia alive and well. Both front members were brought up on the music of these mountains and enjoy both preserving and sharing it.
Nick McMillian was born into a musical family that goes back eight generations in the Surry County North Carolina old time music scene. Nick grew up playing in his dad Chester McMillian's band, Back-Step. His dad played on many of Tommy Jarrrell's recordings in the 1960's and 70's and is a revered member of the old time music community. Nick is directly linked to the heritage of the old time music traditions of the region through both the McMillian family and his grandfather on his mother’s side, the late Dix Freeman. Nick has won numerous competitions such as Galax and Mount Airy Fiddler's Conventions, and keeps his fiddle playing as traditional as the music he heard growing up on his family farm or on radio station WPAQ 740 out of Mount Airy North Carolina.
Michael Motley was introduced to Old Time Music by his grandmother, Frances Dalton Motley of Virginia. Frances was a sharecropper’s daughter, so she worked hard and moved around a lot. When she wasn’t working in the tobacco fields, Frances sang and played guitar, banjo, mandolin and any other instrument she could get her hands on. She passed her sincere love of music down to her children, including Michael's father Kenneth Motley, and her grandchildren. Hearing his dad play the guitar and sing his own original songs as well as traditional country music has been a major influence on Michael's overall sound. When Michael was 10, Frances started taking him all around Patrick County VA and neighboring counties to square dances that included the rich sounds of Surry County music. At 16 Michael was invited to join the Old Dominion Cloggers who toured all over the country and performed at many bluegrass festivals. Michael requested his first banjo as a graduation present from high school, and then dedicated 9 months of his life to it before finding employment after high school. Over 20 years later his banjo is still ringing. Michael has written hundreds of songs which he has played at several venues in Nashville TN as well as being a featured songwriter locally. Michael has won and placed in numerous competitions for his clawhammer banjo playing and flatfoot dancing.
Since 2014 Surry Line has played at venues all over North Carolina, Nashville TN, Virginia, and made it on the lineup for MerleFest’s 30 year anniversary in 2017.
Together Nick McMillan, Michael Motley, and the friends that join them make up the Surry Line sound. At the end of the day, it's the community of neighbors and friends that have come together to celebrate the music and show support that have made it possible to keep going.
Thank you friends!
Surry Line is based in Pinnacle, NC and has quickly become a favorite in the Triad! With an ever-growing fan-base behind them, this group regularly performs both originals and covers. The guys are available for bookings, including festivals, weddings, corporate events, non-profit functions, and more!
(photo credit - Ginger Horse Studio, LLC aka:Our friend Gin)