Tray Wellington’s "Blue Collared Dog and His Green Eyed Friend" is rooted in his abundant creativity

Article Contributed by Mountain Home … | Published on Friday, April 26, 2024

Following the pointed, foreboding mood and expansive instrumentation of his take on John Hiatt’s “Lift Up Every Stone,” Mountain Home Music Company’s Tray Wellington returns to the newgrass instrumental side of the street with his latest single, “Blue Collared Dog and His Green Eyed Friend” — and if the title seems idiosyncratic, the explanation for it reveals something about the banjo player’s creative process:

“One late night while doing some paintings,” Wellington recalls, “we ended the night with two different ones. One featured a dog with a blue collar, and one featured a cat with bright green eyes. I thought about how, if I was still a kid, I would've created a whole story within these paintings of how these two were friends and journeyed the world together. Shortly after this thought, I picked up my banjo and just did some improv which ended up being the start of the tune. I just kept going and finished the tune in that improv session, remembered what I could and recorded it right away. I was amazed at how such a simple thought could help me create a piece of music I'm so proud of.”

Indeed, “Blue Collared Dog…” blends musical sophistication and simplicity into an infectiously accessible — and undeniably ‘grassy — package, as Wellington and supporting musicians Katelynn Bohn (bass), Josiah Nelson (mandolin, fiddle) and Drew Matulich (guitar) deliver the tune’s three distinct parts with solos and ensemble passages that flow smoothly through its sturdy, straightforward arrangement. From start to finish, it’s a striking reminder that, though young, Wellington’s artistic vision and ability to bring it to life are too deep and wide to be contained in a single approach — and that no matter how far it extends, his creativity remains rooted in the sounds and structures that inspired a teenaged Tray Wellington to pick up the banjo in the first place.

"Blue Collared Dog and His Green Eyed Friend" is streaming in Dolby Atmos spatial audio on Apple Music, Amazon Music and TIDAL. Listen to it HERE.

About Tray Wellington
Growing up in western North Carolina’s Ashe County, Trajan “Tray” Wellington heard a lot of music — and from the first time he heard the banjo as a young teen, he was, he says, “hooked.” Within a few years, he had joined with a few friends to form Cane Mill Road, an acclaimed band of youngsters whose wide-ranging brand of bluegrass quickly found favor with an equally wide-ranging audience. By the end of 2019, the quartet had released three well-received albums, recorded with bluegrass and Americana star Jim Lauderdale, and performed at festivals across the country, including Grey Fox, Merlefest and the IBMA’s Wide Open Bluegrass, culminating in a 2019 IBMA Momentum Band of the Year award — and, for Tray, individual recognition as an IBMA Momentum Instrumentalist of the Year.

With growing acclaim for his talent and a lengthening list of his own, individual accomplishments — including the release of his debut solo EP; leading workshops at Merlefest and Grey Fox; a coveted position as an assistant at banjo master Bela Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp; a cover story interview in Banjo Newsletter; and an invitation to Mike Marshall’s prestigious Acoustic Music Seminar — Wellington decided to blaze his own musical and professional trail, showcasing with his Tray Wellington Band at the IBMA’s virtual World of Bluegrass in the fall of 2020. He returned the following year to host the IBMA’s Momentum Awards ceremony and perform on the organization’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival Main Stage. A recent graduate of East Tennessee State University, Tray currently makes his home in Raleigh, NC, where he works with Pinecone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music, when he’s not on the road. Comprised of its namesake, bassist Katelynn Bohn, mandolinist/fiddler Josiah Nelson and guitarist Nick Weitzenfeld, the Tray Wellington Band has already appeared at prestigious festivals and venues across the country, including the Pagosa Folk’n’Bluegrass festival, Wintergrass and Winter Wondergrass, with performances at others, such as the Strawberry Festival, Pickin’ In The Pines and Red Wing Roots on the books.