Update: October 31, 2012 - About Split Lip Rayfield
Kansas-based band Split Lip Rayfield is described as a post-punk progressive bluegrass outfit. The quartet was comprised of guitarist/dobroist Kirk Rundstrom, bassist Jeff Eaton, Wayne Gottstine on the mandolin and Eric Mardis on the banjo. Its early draw was Eaton's homemade one-string instrument fashioned from the gas tank of an antique car, strung with one piece of weed whacker line.
The trio of Rundstrom, Easton and Mardis recorded and released the album "Split Lip Rayfield" in 1998. The following year saw the release of "In the Mud," the first project all four members of the band performed on together. It contained the hits "3.2 Flu," "Devil," "Mardis' Hounds," and a cover of the George Jones/Melba Montgomery song "Easy Street."
With seven albums to its name, including highlights like "Never Make It Home" (2000), the popularity of Split Lip Rayfield grew year after year. The 2004 effort "Should've Seen It Coming" won critical praise, and the band opened for the likes of Del McCoury and Nashville Pussy. The success was curtailed, however, with Rundstrom's cancer diagnosis in early 2006. He continued to perform with the band for months as he underwent treatment, but succumbed to the disease in February 2007 a week after playing his last show.
Split Lip Rayfield helped to pioneer what is known as the "Stage Five" sound, named for the notorious "unofficial" Stage 5 at the annual Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. The sound is described as the use of traditional acoustic instruments played on songs closely related to rock, punk and heavy metal.
The band's last big appearance was the recent Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival in Ozark, Arkansas.