Tom Ohmsen (Mandolin/Mandola)
With over 28 years of experience in the audio engineering field, Tom got his start by doing live recordings of bands and solo artists at nightclubs, concerts and festivals for the 1973-74 WVWR-FM Public Radio program "Up And Coming". He has engineered, produced and/or played on over 250 album and CD projects, most them at Flat Five Press & Recording Co.'s studios, which he founded in 1982. Over the years he has worked on projects from such artists as Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Buster B. Jones, Zakiyah, The Agents Of Good Roots and The Dave Matthews Band (including the latter's Gold and Platinum-selling CD "Remember Two Things"). Tom is also the author of four critically-aclaimed guitar and mandolin instruction books, including "Music Theory For Modern Mandolin" and "Music Theory For Modern Guitar". As a musician he has recorded several albums as a member of various bands and under his own name. Tom is currently the chief engineer at Flat Five and is also president of the company.
John McBroom (Bass/Guitar/Vocals)
John's musical canvas has been a broad swath of musical styles and genres. Touring throughout the 90"s with jam band "Red Weather", John was the lead singer and rythym guitarist. "Red Weather" had 3 CD's to their credit before coming off the road.Until helping form "BLUE MULE" in early 2004, John switched to bass and played with several bands including "Carter, Noland, & McBroom". The group released 2 CD's. John also recorded "Patterns & Lines", a solo project with a uniquely Americana feel. John teaches music & math at Commuinity High School when he is not following one of his many musical adventures .
Tim Rhodes (Banjo)
Tim Rhodes (Banjo)
“I've been playing around with stringed instruments since about 1972 and got my first banjo in '74. My initial influence was my brother Terry's guitar playing. My cousin Michael got me interested in Irish music. He gave me an early 1900s penny whistle book that I proceeded to learn on the banjo. I love 6/8 Irish tunes. Another twist of influence came from my friend Robert, who is an accomplished organist. From him, I played around with classical and baroque music. Yes indeed, Bach on the banjo. " "In the late 80s, I joined Homebrew, a Bluegrass band with a strong jazz influence, led by Tom. During the Homebrew days, I met Eli and have since enjoyed playing Eli tunes. Eli's Christmas projects over the years pushed my efforts for writing tunes and working with other folk's great original music. Most recently "Blue Mule" has been a wonderful experience.From this, I met John, who is a wonderful musician/singer and one of the best bassits that I've had the opportunity to play with. "Blue Mule" is a mix of all our styles, interests, and influences. My playing has been blended from several styles and associations with great musicians. I thank the Lord for the gift of music. Not only the music I play, but every note that I hear.”
Eli Williams (Guitar/Bass/Vocals)
"It all got started I guess when my grandmother bought me a guitar from the Sears catalouge. She wanted me to learn how to play some Glen Campbell songs for her." Listening to Southern & Country Rock in the 70's, Eli's influence shifted when he heard "Manzanita" by Tony Rice. "Wow...the intro to 'Blue Railroad Train' blew my mind." After performing with local Bluegrass bands, Eli joined "Hombrew" in the early 90's. It was in "Hombrew" that Eli met Tom Ohmsen & Tim Rhodes. The years in the group introduced him to New Grass & Jazz, and also gave Eli an opportunity begin singing. After "Homebrew", Eli helped form the group "The Cattales" and "The Gnarly Mountain Boys" which furthered his playing and vocal skills. Most recently playing in a Christian Rock band also has broadened the musical influences. "When Tom called me in February 2004, I was excited to form something new with Him & Timmy again. And meeting John has been an added bonus to my life. Being a part of 'Blue Mule' has been the culmination of all the musical styles I have played over the years. I look forward to riding the 'Mule Train' for a long time to come. I give God full credit for the gift of music; I hope he is pleased with what I do with it. I am truly blessed." Eli's day job is in accounting.