The Bluegrass Reunion has superbly represented the traditional bluegrass sound and repertoire with performances throughout central and eastern North Carolina. When it comes to banjo playing, the "Three Ts"--taste, timing, and tone--are Batten's watchwords. His down-to-earth lead singing gets to the heart of the music as soon as he hits the first note. Batten has combined elements of the styles of Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Bill Emerson, Walter Hensley, and Billy Edwards to develope his own unique style.
Turnage has contributed his solid and tasteful rhythm guitar playing as well as his baritone harmonies and heartfelt lead vocals to the band since founding the group with Batten. Though he started on the banjo, he quickly realized that this was not his instrument of choice and switched to the guitar. His rhythm playing and tasteful choice of "runs" on the guitar highlight the timing for the unit and sets the foundation for keeping the band "gelled" together. In addition, his solid baritone singing rounds out the trios, while his lead singing lends a smoother, more heartfelt feeling to the numbers he is featured on.
Mike Aldridge is the Bluegrass Reunion's mandolin player, and he is considered one of the finest traditional mandolin stylists in the nation today. His sense of timing and love for the traditional sound of bluegrass music have fit well with the Bluegrass Reunion and the direction they have taken their music over the years.
Veteran fiddler Johnny Ridge was influenced by the pioneer bluegrass fiddlers of the 1940s and '50s. His fiddling style is heavily influenced by some of the pioneers of bluegrass music's beginnings, as well as many second generation fiddlers: Chubby Wise, Tater Tate, Benny Martin, Jim Shumate, and Bobby Hicks, just to name a few. However, his greatest influence came from his father, who started him out playing at the age of 10. Ridge has worked in many different groups down through the years, most notably his 16-year stint with the now-defunct Bass Mountain Boys. Before joining the Bluegrass Reunion, he and his father reunited as members of Pete Corum & Rising Sun. Ridge also sings bass in the band's quartets and occasionally adds a baritone or lead voice to the trios.
Phil Patterson's devotion to the acoustic bass has made him one of the most solid and tasteful bluegrass bass players to be found. Patterson's musical roots go back to the country rock sound - he played electric bass in several local bands. But when the bluegrass bug hit him, he went all out to learn the acoustic bass. Studying not only the techniques and musical importance of the instrument, but the history behind it, as well, his dedication to the music has transformed him into one of the most solid bass players around.
During its four decades as a band, Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion have been featured performers at the North Carolina Governor's Mansion and with the North Carolina Symphony, and have twice been invited to the International Bluegrass and Folk Festival in Ireland. The group has performed throughout the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York, and continues to maintain a full touring schedule with appearances at events such as PreddyFest, Lil' John's Mountain Music Festival, and the South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival.
Instrumental in the organization of the Eastern North Carolina Bluegrass Association, Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion demonstrate their continuing dedication to preserving and promoting bluegrass throughout the Piedmont. The group's repertoire includes songs made popular by Flatt and Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, and Bill Monroe, as well as classic country songs arranged in a bluegrass style, and original numbers.
Al Batten and the Bluegrass Reunion have six CDs to their credit: Bluegrass/Reunion Style; a two-CD set: New Black Suit and Don't Be Left on the Mountain; Instrumentals & Insanities; Live at the Kinston Winter Bluegrass Festival;and 36 Years and Counting.