Bio

CONTINENTAL DRIVE BLUEGRASS BAND 

Continental Drive is a bluegrass band based in Johnson City, Tennessee. The band members are scholarship students in the Bluegrass, Country and Old-time Music Program at East Tennessee State University. Surrounded by the Appalachian, Roan and Blue Ridge Mountains, this program attracts fine musicians from all over the USA. Continental Drive’s members hail from every corner of the country and form a tight knit and energetic group that lives up to the best traditions of bluegrass music. 

BAND MEMBERS 

Matthew Songmaker is a musician who calls the small northern California town of Red Bluff his home. He has opened for country legends Clint Black, Trick Pony, Mark Chestnutt and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Among his achievements are winning the hot fiddle and waltz categories at the Western Open. He performed at the California Bluegrass Association Festival with his band the December Bicyclists in 2017. Besides the fiddle, he is excellent at playing the guitar, mandolin, banjo, stand-up bass and other instruments. He also sings and has written a lot of his own material. In addition to bluegrass, he plays a variety of Americana music, including country, traditional rock, blues and gospel. Songmaker began performing at the age of 8 and has played venues all over Northern California, Oregon and Nevada as well as Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. He has recorded five CDs.  http://matthewsongmakermusic.com/

Holger Olesen is a vocalist and dobro player from Birchdale, in far northern Minnesota. He has been playing music with his family band from the time he was four years old. In addition to the dobro he plays the piano and saxophone. He was awarded the Houston Caldwell ResoSummit Scholarship by Rob Ickes and attended resonator guitar boot camp for 7 years. He has recorded three CD’s and did a PBS TV show with his family band, Sloughgrass. Recently he recorded two additional CD’s and two PBS TV specials with the award-winning Minnesota bluegrass band Porcupine Creek. Holger has played on numerous radio stations including KAXE and KBEK. He performed at Minnesota MBOTMA festivals, and numerous other festivals and events throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Northwestern Ontario. Porcupine Creek, with Holger on dobro and vocals, won the 2015 Minnesota Bluegrass band competition and placed second in the 2016 Americana band competition at the Minnesota State fair. Holger also plays a variety of Americana music including bluegrass, country, gospel and traditional rock. https://holgerolesen.com/  

Jake Riggins is an upright bass player and vocalist from Columbia, Tennessee. Jake got his start in music at age 9 when he began playing guitar to classic rock and country songs. By age 14 he was playing in the worship band at church. In 2015, Jake started attending Bethel University where he met his mentor, Stephen Mougin, and began playing bass in the school's Bluegrass program. He quickly fell in love with bluegrass music and became an accomplished bass player. Jake has shared the stage with greats Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Becky Buller, Steve Thomas, and Jessie Baker. He has performed on numerous stages and radio stations such as the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville Palace, WSM Radio, Merlefest, Dailey & Vincent Landfest, and Big Lick Bluegrass Festival. Jake currently makes his home in Johnson City, Tennessee and is a Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music major at ETSU. In addition to seeing him play with Continental Drive, you can see him on tour with the The Malpass Brothers and Joe Hott & The Short Mountain Boys. https://www.facebook.com/JakeRigginsBass/

Banjo player and vocalist Jacob Wright hails from Blacksburg, Virginia. Jacob plays the banjo in the East Tennessee State University’s Bluegrass Pride band and currently tours showcasing bluegrass music on behalf of the university. He loves to freely volunteer his time and talents to help others. He has played for numerous private fundraising campaigns which include families in need, medical fundraisers, Montgomery Museum, along with several Ruritan clubs and churches.  Jacob has been involved in a monthly nursing home ministry and a monthly meeting at Radford Rehab since his early teens. He has frequently played at the New River Juvenile Detention Center. In addition, Jacob is currently working as an assistant stage manager on the “Song of The Mountains" TV series. Jacob studied Celtic music, which greatly influenced the bluegrass genre, when he went abroad to Scotland during the summer of 2017.

 

Continental Drive Bluegrass band 2018

Continental Drive Bluegrass band 2018

Matthew Songmaker

Matthew Songmaker

Holger Olesen

Holger Olesen

Jake Riggins

Jake Riggins

Jacob Wright

Jacob Wright