Artists We Also Like
Borderhop Five, The Crawlin' Kingsnakes, Curley Maple, The Mosier Brothers, Curley Maple, Kaitlin Jones & the County Fair, The Dappled Grays, Andy Carlson, The Del McCoury Band, Blue Highway, Hot Rize, Prince.
Band Interests
Making music!
Band Members
Andy Martin ~ Lead Vocals/Banjo/Fiddle
Bryan Varin ~ Lead Vocals/Mandolin, Guitar
John "Johnny Fabulous" Evans ~ Guitar
Rich Mullinax ~ Upright Bass
Athens, GA
16 Tons reuniting for a benefit @ Georgia Theatre, 12/17/11 w/ Kaitlin Jones in a benefit for the family of fallen ACC Police Officer Buddy Christian, only $5! Ya'll Come! Details here:

JOHN "JOHNNY FABULOUS" EVANS: Guitar - John was born and raised in the North Georgia Mountain town of Ellijay, where he learned flatpicking g...uitar & mandolin by mistake. The youngest of 23 children, John was lavished with a lot of attention, mostly by his older sisters. The family was so poor they couldn’t afford Cabbage Patch dolls, so his older sisters used to dress John up like a doll and force him to host tea parties with teddy bears, Barbies and a partially dressed, quadriplegic G.I. Joe. He managed to escape the worst of these episodes by hiding under the canvas of a fishing boat where he found an old Martin D-18. The rest is bluegrass history. John lives in Seattle with his wife, Monica and his twin boys, Monique & Unique. He also has a home in Salt Lake City that he shares with his wife, Sandy and her children from a future marriage. He spends most of his free time sneaking into strangers’ carports hiding under boat covers. He likes quiet walks on the beach and has learned not to let the bass player write his bio for him. John also plays guitar for his primary band, BorderHop Five, along with Bryan Varin & 16 Tons frequent guest Hal Misseri:

ANDY MARTIN: Banjo, Fiddle, Lead Vocals - Andy has been picking banjo for 25 years. Hailing from Tifton, GA, his family moved from Kentucky to South Georgia just before he was born ... so Andy is proud to announce that he was born and raised in Georgia, the most beautiful state in the country - but he was conceived in the Bluegrass State!! Andy has long been a fan of the straight-ahead sounds of the more traditional sides of Bluegrass Music (Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers, and Flatt & Scruggs). Some of his favorite "newer" bands include Blue Highway, Hot Rize, and The Del McCoury Band. Sounds that moan, cry, or "drive like a steam locomotive" are what Andy enjoys. He lists his favorite banjo players as Earl Scruggs (of course), J.D. Crowe, Peter Wernick, Jim Mills, Bela Fleck, and Bill Keith. Vocal influences are Carter and Ralph Stanley, Jimmy Martin (by the way..."Why isn't that man in the Country Music Hall of Fame?"), and the incomparable Lester Flatt. During daylight hours Andy is a mental health therapist. He mentions the late great John Hartford as a musician he respects for his originality, talent, and pure ability to entertain by just being himself. Andy's hobbies include tinkering with banjos, playing golf, cooking, and arguing with himself about questions that have no answer. Andy currently plays banjo & fiddle in the Albany, GA band The Crawlin' Kingsnakes:

BRYAN VARIN: Mandolin Guitar, & Lead Vocals – Bryan first developed a love for bluegrass music while listening to his parents pick during their weekly Wednesday night jam sessions while growing up in Huntsville, Alabama. It was during this time that he began playing guitar and was able to join in the sessions with his parents and their friends. Although he has continued to play guitar throughout the years, it wasn't until moving to Athens, GA and meeting Andy Martin that he rekindled his love for playing bluegrass. With Andy's guidance and teaching, he developed his rhythm guitar skills, has even discovered his singing abilities, and most recently has taken up the mandolin with a vengeance. Bryan played his first "real" gig as a member of "Andy Martin and Friends" on New Year's Eve ’03 / ’04, which led to the formation of "16 Tons". Currently, he is a chef at the University of Georgia and plays upright bass for his band BorderHop Five along with John "Johnny Fabulous" Evans & 16 Tons frequent guest Hal Misseri:

RICH MULLINAX: Upright Bass, Harmony Vocals – Rich was born & raised in Virginia in a house full of music with the whole family heavily involved in music programs at church & school. He played drums in a marching band at age 9 and began strumming guitar at 14, just enough to accompany his own singing. As a kid he heard bluegrass bands in the D.C. area such as The Seldom Scene & the Country Gentlemen, but he became a fanatic in his early 20s when he started listening to Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, John Hartford, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas & Tony Rice. A passionate bluegrass fan for years, it was not until the summer of 2003, having never played in a band, that Rich actually began playing bluegrass. While listening in on jam sessions in and around Athens, he noticed that the jams often lacked a bass. He purchased a used upright bass from Dan Horowitz of Five Eight, took a few lessons from local bluegrass veterans, started showing up at the jams and jumped in. Rich joined his 1st band, 16 Tons, at age 36. (It's NEVER too late to start!) In addition to 16 Tons, Rich has played upright bass for The Blackmon Brothers, Short Road Home, Brian Connell & The Dickens & others. Rich is also an independent promoter of bluegrass and other traditional music in Athens GA, having presented concerts at venues such as The Melting Point, The Georgia Theatre, The 40 Watt, Tasty Wold (R.I.P.) and The Red Light Cafe. He has promoted shows for artists such as The Del McCoury Band, Tony Rice, Mountain Heart, Asleep at the Wheel, Crooked Still, Béla Fleck and the Flecktones & several shows by The Avett Brothers, including their most recent sell-out at The Classic Center in Athens, GA.


DAVID BLACKMON - 16 Tons draws from a deep well of Athens fiddling talent, often relying on the music veteran David Blackmon. David is a well-known fiddler & mandolin player whose roots are firmly planted in traditional and bluegrass music. David has toured & recorded with legends from Jerry Reed and Glenn Campbell to Col. Bruce Hampton and Widespread Panic.

KAITLIN JONES - Whether performing one of her haunting originals or a Hank Williams treasure, lyricist and vocal talent Kaitlin Jones performs with a simple elegance that is becoming increasingly hard to find.

BRIAN CONNELL - The band often enhances their sound by recruiting special guest Brian Connell to play harmonica, an instrument that was more common in early bluegrass bands. Connell is an Athens songwriter and performer whose penetrating lyrics can be heard on his latest release, “The Sordid”.

HAL MISSERI - An Athenian bluegrass fixture, Hal often lends 16 Tons his mandolin chops & lead vocals which are both high AND lonesome! Hal's band, BorderHop Five, also features 16 Tons alumni Johnny "Johnny Fabulous" Evans and Bryan Varin.
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Current Location
Athens, Georgia USA
General Manager
Rich Mullinax ~
Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys, Flatt & Scruggs, The Stanley Brothers, John Hartford, Vassar Clements, The Bluegrass Album Band, Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Charlie Daniels, Hot Rize, John Prine.
Press contact
Rich Mullinax ~
Booking agent
Rich Mullinax ~
From 2003 - 2008, 16 Tons played hard-driving bluegrass & mountain music in public venues, festivals & private events in Athens, GA, statewide and in neighboring states. When our band leader relocated to across the state, the band discontinued public appearances but as of Dec 2011, we still play the occasional private event in Georgia, Western, NC & the Upstate of SC.

16 Tons is led by Andy Marti...n on banjo & vocals, a veteran of the Georgia bluegrass scene. The band also features John “Johnny Fabulous” Evans on guitar, Bryan Varin on mandolin & vocals and Rich Mullinax on upright bass.

16 Tons began the way most bluegrass bands do; out of a weekly pickin’ session. On New Year’s Eve ‘03, banjo ace Andy Martin was asked to perform as “Andy Martin & Friends” at Tasty World, a club in downtown Athens, Georgia. Andy asked John Evans, Bryan Varin & Rich Mullinax to join him, all regulars in the local jams. Rich had just started playing bass and Bryan hadn’t even started the mandolin, but they had a blast. And so did the audience. In the coming months, Andy put his music education degree to use. With John’s help, he set out to teach 2 beginners the basics of playing in a bluegrass band. Both apprentices eventually became journeyman and the band began playing clubs and private events. The band consistently drew large crowds at The Georgia Theatre and The Melting Point, NE Georgia’s finest listening room.

16 Tons has enjoyed remaining faithful to the principles of bluegrass; acoustic instruments, Scruggs style banjo and 1 - 4 - 5 chord progressions. The traditional tunes are sentimental yet sometimes tragic, and the instrumentals express emotions that lyrics never could. But 21st century audiences and bands occasionally like their bluegrass flavored with other genres, and 16 Tons is no exception. Many bands have fused bluegrass with jazz, pop and rock, but 16 Tons enjoys covering the hard-driving, blue-collar songs from the likes of Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and Charlie Daniels.

In 2008, the band's leader, Andy, relocated to Albany, GA and the bands members are all on to other projects. However, 16 Tons still appears at occasional private events all over Georgia. At elegant functions such as wedding receptions, corporate banquets and art openings, bluegrass has gone from novelty to mainstream. 16 Tons is delighted to be a part of this trend, often being selected over jazz combos & doo-wop groups.

And every few years, the band gets together to perform in Athens clubs such as The Georgia Theatre and The Melting Point. 16 Tons is thrilled to be counted among the many talented bluegrass bands that originated from the thriving Athens music community.

16 Tons Contact:
Rich Mullinax

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