The Bluegrass Pals

Years at Winfield: 

The Bluegrass Pals are a group of four Colorado musicians who play a style of bluegrass music which has made them crowd favorites wherever they perform. The band is especially appreciated by those who like the traditional bluegrass sound. Whether a classic bluegrass song, country ballad, gospel tune or an original number, their music reflects their desire to keep the sound close to its roots. Members of the group have entertained on stages as far flung as Canada, the Lincoln Center in NYC and Telluride, CO. The Bluegrass Pals are dedicated to providing a high quality show for the entire family.

The group was founded in 1978 by Jim Runnels, the group's banjo player, tenor and lead vocalist. Originally from the rolling hills of Iowa, Jim has a variety of musical experience. He has done extensive touring and recording as a member of the PA - based band, Whetstone Run, and his most recent work with Charles Sawtelle and the Whippets. Jim now makes his home in Fort Collins, CO. "OK, you Ford and Chevy owners, Jim says, "I own two classic Fords and I hope someday to trade them in for one good Chevy." As the saying goes, I wouldn't touch that line with a ten foot pole.

Dan Mitchell plays guitar but is also accomplished on several other bluegrass instruments. Born in Ohio and now living in Pierce, CO, Dan is a sought after musician in the region. He has been a member of Charles Sawtelle and the Whippets, Cowtown Boogie and the cowboy/western trio, In Cahoots. Dan sings lead, bass, baritone and occasionally picks up his fiddle during a Bluegrass Pals' show. And you know what? Dan has never won a music contest he didn't enter. Quite an accomplishment!

Fred Zip plays the mandolin and sings lead, baritone and bass for the group. Originally from Fairfax, VA, Fred has played and traveled with several bands based in Montana and Colorado since he moved West. These include Charles Sawtelle and the Whippets, The Big Sky Boys and Poor Monroe. Fred is a former aircraft mechanic who now lives in Fort Collins, CO. He has found that playing bluegrass music part-time is more financially rewarding than being an aircraft mechanic!

Last but not least is Barry Hehn who provides the solid downbeat on the string bass for the group. He also sings baritone on the quartet numbers. Having spent much of his early childhood in North Dakota, he still manages to have a great sense of humor. Barry seems to often share his humor while performing with the Pals. He has played in several area bands including Against the Grain and In Cahoots. And here's a hoot, he now lives a stone's throw from Pump #2 at the U-Pump-It and Center for Performing Arts in LaPorte, CO.

With backgrounds like these no wonder they are crowd favorites wherever they perform.