The Five of a Kind Story

Strasburg, Virginia's Five of A Kind started in 1980 from a group of local friends who were jamming in a garage behind the home of Strasburg residents, Winston and Martha Brill. The group included Jimmy Drummond (guitar), Gene Stokes (mandolin), Doug Arthur (bass), Charlie Nicholson (banjo) and Richard Kleese (dobro). They started playing around the area and were invited to play at Winchester, Virginia's Apple Blossom Festival and Five of a Kind was born. After about a year, Doug Arthur left and was replaced by Vince Poling on bass.

In the mid 1980's they went into the studio and recorded their first cassette project "Five of a Kind". Their second project "Dealer's Choice" was released in 1988. Change came again as Poling left the group and was soon replaced by another local bassist, Norman Racey.

In the following years the band produced four more cassette projects which included "Traditions", "Memories", "Ridin' The Blue Ridge" and the all Gospel "Little White Church". (Note: All of these cassette projects are still available from the band at their appearances).

Their first CD project, "Best Hand" was released in the late 1990's and included their newest member, fiddler Bill Poffinberger, a veteran musician having played with Cliff Waldron, Del McCoury and Benny and Vallie Cain. The band now had six members but the name stayed the same. The late 1990's also saw more change with the departure of Richard Kleese. To replace Kleese the band signed on a young, guitar/mandolin picker named Joe Passolano and in 2002 the band released their second CD project "New Addition".

But change would come again and like the others, the pull of day jobs, travel and family took its toll and both Poffinberger and Nicholson left the band. The guys were a bit worried about the future when they found a Louisiana transplant named Terry Barbin, who played both banjo and Dobro. Barbin was a former and founding member of Louisiana's Louisiana Grass. The band was now back to five members. But soon marriage and a move took Passolano off to South Carolina. And then they were four.

In the Summer of 2006, the band was playing at a Firemen's Carnival where they met Bill Foster. Foster has recently moved to Strasburg, his wife's hometown, and was looking for other pickers. Foster played mandolin, guitar and sang lead and harmony vocals. They asked him to sit in and liked what they heard and he was asked to join the band.
And they were back to five.

In April 2007, the band went to Phoenix Studios in Browntown, VA and recorded their latest CD, "Royal Flush" which is now available from the band at their shows.

In November 2007, Founding member Gene Stokes decided to retire from the band after 27 years.

For most of the 2008 season the band played as a four-piece group despite the name. In late August of 2008 Fiddler Tom Knowles joined the band adding an additional lead vocals as well

Transitions
Five of A Kind in 2011 saw their 31st year as a band, and with that came the inevitable change that many bands endure. As the band entered the new year, mandolinist Bill Foster, and fiddler Tom Knowles both decided to leave to either seek new musical endeavors or have more free time.

On the other side, original member and dobroist Richard Kleese returned and mandolinist Ben Whitman was invited to join the group. This brought the band back to full strength with founding member Jimmy Drummond, along with Terry Barbin on banjo and long-time bassist Norman Racey.

Changes come again in 2015 as banjo/dobroist Terry Barbin decided to leave and was replaced by Richard "Bugs" Frank on banjo. And in 2016 mandolinist Ben Whitman moved out of the area. He was replaced by Tim Lansberry on mandolin, a veteran of a number of Shenandoah Valley bluegrass bands.

Consider Five of a Kind!
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