An artist whose career has only expanded in recent years, Tray Wellington’s innovative musicianship and ever-growing list of accomplishments has quickly propelled him to the forefront of the bluegrass/roots scene.
“Hooked” from the first time he heard a banjo, the Raleigh, NC-based musician is in constant motion, much like the inspiration behind his latest single, “Moon In Motion 1,” which dropped September 1st via Mountain Home Music Company.
The enchanting new instrumental single is a thoughtful showcase of his band’s talents as they work in harmony together. With Katelynn Bohn (bass), Josiah Nelson (mandolin, fiddle), and Nick Weitzenfeld (guitar), the song begins with a slow melody that accelerates into a cascading layer of stringed textures. Guitar and banjo arpeggios are built upon a sustained bowed bass and fiddle chord, blending sharp and soft sounds to create a cinematic score-like composition.
“I often equate music and nature as one in one, as music is a constant movement that is always progressing forward through time,” says Wellington. “With this idea in mind, I thought one thing that always moves around us like music is the moon. I thought what a better way to progress in my music than channeling this idea of continuous movement.”
Veering from the cornerstones of bluegrass and newgrass instrumentals, the track sits instead in the realm of melded composition and spontaneous improvisation that characterizes a kind of roots sound pioneered by artists like Punch Brothers and Hawktail. Moods can shift abruptly, while combining and morphing layers in a meticulously composed sequence.
The melding of separate but related entities indeed appears as a theme in “Moon in Motion 1,” displaying the depth of thought and philosophy behind it. For Wellington and his band, it appears their careers mirror the moon’s orbit around the Earth- constantly in motion.
In 2022, Wellington released his first full-length album, Black Banjo, adding a defining notch in his belt of creative achievements. This past May, he put out a killer bluegrass/roots-inspired cover of Kid Cudi’s massive hit, “Pursuit Of Happiness.”
Beginning with a project called Cane Mill Road, Wellington’s musical journey took off alongside two friends. The bluegrass trio recorded three albums with Americana and modern country music legend Jim Lauderdale, landing them a spot in festivals across the country, and securing Wellington a win as 2019 IBMA Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year.
After enjoying the success of his first band, he decided it was time to set out on his debut solo career. Landing a position as an assistant at Bela Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp and teaching workshops at Merlefest and Grey Fox, things were only looking up for this exciting new endeavor.
Wellington and his band have a handful of shows this month which includes Pickin’ in the Pines in Flagstaff, AZ, and the IBMA World of Bluegrass in his home of Raleigh.