Big Howdy a progressive bluegrass band that nods to the past while barreling into the future.
Dede Wyland: vocals, guitar A native of Wisconsin, singer and guitarist Dede honed her bluegrass skills from 1975 through 1979 playing throughout the Midwest and Central states with the Milwaukee-based band ’Grass, Food & Lodging. She then moved to New York, where she became a founding member of Tony Trischka and Skyline, one of the leading progressive bluegrass groups of the 1980s. She toured internationally with Skyline through the ’80s. During those years her clear, powerful voice made her a perennial nominee in the annual awards poll of the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA). As one of the few women at the time who was performing in a high-profile touring bluegrass band, Dede was a role model and an artistic influence for a generation of female bluegrass musicians who would shape the music in the years to come. After leaving Skyline in 1987, Dede moved to Tucson, Arizona, and then to the Washington-Baltimore area in 1990, performing regionally and concentrating on her work as a vocal coach. Since 1999, Dede’s singing has won her a shelf full of “Wammie” awards from the Washington Area Music Association. Her first full-length solo recording, “Keep the Light On” (Patuxent Music 189) was released in 2009 followed by her 2018 release “Urge for Going” (Patuxent Music 303). Her career is the subject of its own chapter in Murphy Hicks Henry’s 2013 book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass (University of Illinois Press).
Randy Barrett: vocals, banjo, guitar Randy is a singer, songwriter, banjoist and fiddler who has been a mainstay of the DC bluegrass scene for more than three decades. The DC native has won six Washington-area Music Awards and his songs have been recorded by Jim Hurst, Dede Wyland and Chesapeake, among other artists. Randy has recorded two albums: Each & Every Day and Lights of Home. He also appears on the 
Patuxent Banjo Project, which features top players from the greater Washington, DC area. Randy is a board director of the Bluegrass Country Foundation, which operates Bluegrass Country Radio. He is also proprietor of Greenway Violins in Falls Church, VA.


Ira Gitlin: vocals, bass Ira Gitlin, a native of New York City, is widely known and respected in Washington-Baltimore bluegrass, folk, and roots-music circles as a versatile multi-instrumentalist, teacher and writer. A former National Bluegrass Banjo Champion and multiple Wammie award winner, Ira has backed up such nationally known performers as Bill Harrell, the Johnson Mountain Boys, Laurie Lewis, Peter Rowan, and Peter “P.D.Q. Bach” Schickele and has played on dozens of recording projects. He can be seen performing frequently with the Blue Moon Cowgirls, Karen Collins & the Backroads Band, the Oklahoma Twisters and other DC-area artists. 
 Ira has written about bluegrass music in the pages of Bluegrass Unlimited, Banjo NewsLetter and Bluegrass Now, and he has contributed liner notes to several commercial recordings. He has lectured on the history of bluegrass for the Smithsonian Associates, and in 2005 he delivered a paper at the world’s first academic symposium on bluegrass. In 1993, Ira was a one-day winner on the television game show Jeopardy.
Tom McLaughlin: vocals, mandolin, guitar Tom grew up in western New York state far from civilization. When he was ten he saved up $15 and ordered a guitar from the Sears catalog and then wore out his older sister's folk and rock & roll records learning to play it. During his college years, while honing his Clapton impersonation, he became aware of bluegrass and gradually picked up banjo, fiddle and mandolin. After several postgraduate years of working with increasingly loud country-rock bands he got tired of hauling amps and of trying to play a fiddle in tune while wearing earplugs and joined a bluegrass band as mandolin player. He is a contest winner on guitar, mandolin and fiddle, and a Winfield finalist on guitar and mandolin. Tom is a former member of the Fiasco Brothers, Special Delivery, the Neon Valley Boys, Rock Creek, Roadside Attraction and the Providence Mandolin Orchestra. He currently performs with Big Howdy, the Oklahoma Twisters (western swing) and Corner Pocket (swing).
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Photography by Kendall Barrett