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Gene and Gayla Mills

Gene and Gayla Mills (photo)

Gene and Gayla Mills play acoustic Americana—modern folk tinged with bluegrass and country, featuring Gene’s award-winning original songs. They offer “some of the best organic music you could hope to come across—killer stuff” (Chris Specter, Midwest Record).

In their second duo record released April 2015, Walk on Solid Ground, Gene and Gayla Mills once again appeal to the head and heart with original songs exploring the breadth and nuance of life. In Gene’s story songs, some characters overcome weakness, loss, or a broken heart, while others embrace the beauty and brevity of experience. Some songs continue the folk tradition of protesting threats from moneyed interests. Others poke fun at the opposite sex, embrace flirtation, or express the intensity of love. The duo’s eclectic mix of traditional folk, bluegrass, country, and Americana centers on the sounds of Gene’s acoustic guitar, Gayla’s upright bass, and their supple harmony singing, enhanced by guest musicians on dobro, mandolin, and drums.

Their 2011 CD, If Stones Could Talk reached #11 on the Folk DJ chart and #5 on the Roots Music Folk Chart for four months and was played internationally.

Gene’s songs tell rich stories, many based on real people from Virginia--miners, farmers, lovers, and soldiers. His first CD Waiting for Rain garnered nationwide airplay, and he has won over twenty country, folk, and instrumental songwriting awards. Gene is also an accomplished flatpicking guitarist. From melancholy to sweet, his songs are “for those who love fables of experience, tragedy, love and endeavor.” (Tim Carroll, Folkwords)

Gayla’s bass playing, solid, rhythmic, and melodic, is accompanied by tender harmonies. She is also the driving force behind the recording and promotion of Gene’s songs, which he first began writing and performing in the late 1970s.

Married over 28 years, Gene and Gayla have been playing as a duo since 2004. “The dynamic between the both of them is just beautiful. It’s a sweet thing to watch.” (Karen Atkinson, WHAN radio). They are often joined by Barry Lawson on mandolin, who also plays with the Honey Dewdrops.

“Take the cornerstones of acoustic Americana, add a touch of bluegrass, country and folk, mix together with dedication, superb musicianship and then add precise harmonies. If these songs don’t move you, then your soul is made of stone.” (Tim Carroll, folkwords.com)

Gene and Gayla have played at the Oak Grove Music Festival, the Crozet Music Festival, the Richmond Irish Festival, the Nashville Songwriter’s Festival, and the Fredericksburg Songwriters’ Showcase. They’ve also opened for the Honey Dewdrops and for Bill Evans and Megan Lynch. They've played at weddings and funerals, and everything in between.

Their influences include Townes Van Zandt, Claire Lynch, Crooked Still, Alison Kraus, Nickel Creek, Si Kahn, and Robin and Linda Williams.

On their latest CD, they are joined by Ivan Rosenberg (dobro), Barry Lawson (mandolin), and Cody Martin (drums). One song, Another Day, has already won two songwriting awards. A second song, No Dominion Over Me, has become a rallying cry for those fighting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

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