When they gradually went their separate ways around the end of 2003, Andrew, John Rickard and Jeff Arey - aka Dang Varmints! - never formally broke up. Jeff was a busy IT professional with two teenagers, and John was busy running his Rickard's Auctions business and living part time in Chincoteague. When the opportunity came late in 2014 to do a reunion concert, all three were eager to do it. Since then, the Varmints joined Andrew for his annual "Winter Holiday Vidcast" and did an unplugged show at Bull Run House Concerts in March 2015.
The three longtime friends first met at an open mic at a community center in rural Lucketts Virginia in the early 90s, all as solo performers. Their appreciation for each others music led to them doing some shows together between 1998-2003, including at the John F. Kennedy Center and the US Capitol. Unlike most bands, they really melded their talents almost like a Songwriters in the Round format, rarely playing two of one member's tunes in a row. Jeff's fiery mandolin instrumentals were a great counterpoint to John's engaging and humorous rustic country-folk songs and Andrew's melodic Appalachian influenced songs. They helped record each other's songs, but never made a recording together. A few years after they parted ways, Andrew recorded John's "Count Your Blessings" and Jeff's "The Old Hundred Road" on his Something Worth Standing For CD.
If you're sad you missed out on it, take heart! Thanks to Joleen Byrd at CU Photography, we have a few videos and a photo gallery from the Bull Run show. Further down the page is a SoundCloud audio recording of Jeff's "The Rocks Reel" from their final performance at the Shenandoah Coffeehouse Series in 2003. While no more shows are planned at present, the trio proved after 11 years, "never say never" - and maybe check the website now and again :) Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy these!
Here is the photo gallery from our Facebook page.