BIOS & HISTORY    Historical photos of the Lincoln Highway Band

After more than a decade together, the members of the Lincoln Highway Bluegrass Band still meet at least once a week after their “day jobs” to practice and introduce new tunes to the group. The band initially formed in the summer of 1998, when Mike Luttrell (mandolin), Mike Bergman (fiddle), Jonathan Hull (guitar), and Terry Augspurger (bass) started picking together in each other’s living rooms. Within a year Ken Lyons (banjo) fleshed out the band, and Lincoln Highway soon became a fixture in the Central Iowa bluegrass scene, playing both traditional and progressive bluegrass. In late 2009 they added Chris Thiessen as rhythm guitarist.

Terry Augspurger: Bass and lead and harmony vocals.
Bluegrass music was not Terry’s first love. As a sophomore in high school in 1966, he taught himself to play guitar and played folk-rock and rock and roll (the Byrds, Cream, and the Doors, to name a few) through the rest of high school and college, but found little time for music during medical school. His first exposure to bluegrass occurred during the fateful summer of 1998, but Terry has never looked back. Bluegrass Rules by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder was his first bluegrass CD, and his tastes quickly expanded to include the Nashville Bluegrass Band, the Del McCoury Band, and the Lonesome River Band. Whenever he can step away from his practice as a psychiatrist, Terry is now a habitual attender at Winfield and has a steady appetite for American roots music of all kinds.

MikeB Mike Bergman: Fiddle, guitar, and occasional mandolin.
Mike was principally a guitarist until 1974. At a Doc and Merle Watson concert, Doc had Kenny Baker (Monroe’s long-time fiddler) come out on stage and play a few tunes. “I had a fiddle in my hand within days,” Mike admits. He cites Kenny Baker, Bobby Hicks, Blaine Sprouse, and Jason Carter (who plays with Del McCoury) as principle influences for the fiddle, and favors the style of the Del McCoury Band. When he’s not playing with Lincoln Highway or being a psychologist, Mike is a dedicated cyclist, logging hundreds of miles a week around and across the state of Iowa.

Jonathan Hull: Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and vocals.
Bluegrass was the farthest musical style from Jonathan’s mind while he was a rock and roll guitarist in the 1970s. But once he dropped the electrics and went acoustic, he was primed for bluegrass. In 1998 a neighbor –Mike Bergman – invited him over to play and listen to recordings by “this guy named Bill Monroe. Actually, the more I listened the better it sounded,” and Jonathan soon found himself listening to recordings by the Stanley Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, and host of other bluegrass luminaries. His personal band favorite is “the early” Del McCoury. “I listen more for musical content than lyrics,” but that hasn’t stopped him from stepping forth and occasionally taking a lead vocal with the band. When he’s not playing bluegrass, Jonathan is a local fifth-generation retailer.

Mike Luttrell: Mandolin and lead and harmony vocals.
Although Mike knew about vocals (he sang tenor harmony at church), he was not at all certain about bluegrass. At 13 he sang with pre-recorded instrumentals, but the pennies for compensation squelched further similar musical endeavors.  In the mid-70s, the Will The Circle Be Unbroken album introduced Mike to a world of acoustic instruments and traditional music. “I took up mandolin at the suggestion of my sister (an accomplished autoharpist), who conspired with my wife to get me one for the Christmas of 1997.” At that time he worked with Mike Bergman, who knew the mandolin was tuned like a fiddle. As a result of Lincoln Highway, his musical taste has expanded. “I admire the harmonies of Daley & Vincent, the unpredictable vocals of Jimmy Martin, the cohesive sound of the Del McCoury band, and the musicality of Allison Krauss and Union Station.” Of the many mandolin players he admires, he believes Dan Tyminski has captured the essence of a bluegrass lick and Ronnie McCoury is a virtuoso.  A psychologist by day, Mike enjoys trading vocals and instrumental licks with other members of the band.

Ken Lyons: Banjo and harmony and lead vocals.
Ken was a child of the 60s and grew up with folk, folk-rock, and all stages of rock and roll. Although he was initially a fingerstyle guitarist, the movie Deliverance and the first Will the Circle Be Unbroken album opened Ken’s eyes to the possibilities of bluegrass. In the mid-90s he bought a banjo on a whim and split his time between learning Scruggs-style and claw hammer. “I have a resonance with both bluegrass and old time,” and the band plays several old time tunes (like “Cluck Old Hen”) as a result of Ken’s influence. His musical idols are Tom Adams and Jim Mills, and he’s partial to the Nashville Bluegrass Band, the Bluegrass Album Band, the Infamous Stringdusters, the Steeldrivers, and the Steep Canyon Rangers. A local physician, Ken sees bluegrass and his long involvement with Lincoln Highway as a great stress reliever and his personal therapy.

Chris Thiessen: Rhythm guitar and vocals.
The newest member of Lincoln Highway, Chris started playing folk guitar during the mid-60s, and later branched into blues and ragtime. He first encountered live bluegrass in 1975 soon after hearing Rounder 0044 (JD Crowe and the New South), and then joined the Sour Mash String Band in Gainesville, FL. In 2005 he moved from Richmond VA to Iowa, to become Mike Bergman’s next-door neighbor. He was soon attending the LHB practices for fun, and after several years was invited to join the band. A technical writer and editor by trade and an amateur bluegrass historian, since 1998 Chris has also been a contributing editor for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. His musical influences are Jim Nunally, David Grier, Tim May, Norman Blake, and Tony Rice, and he draws musical inspiration from everyone from Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers to the Seldom Scene to Blue Highway.

© 2002-2011 The Lincoln Highway Band