White Lightning Boys started in either 2000 or 2001_ nobody really knows for sure_ when Bird Snider (banjo) and Barry Elkins (mandolin, vocals) and guys with names like Jeb, Cleetus and Forest began musically fornicating together on the porch. Later, stumbling blindly into the vortex, came Pickerdan Bilger (guitar) and Bob Adair (dobro).
One evening in the woods just before sunset, Barry and Bird spotted an elusive morel mushroom under a giant old Sycamore tree and they banged heads as they stooped to cut it. The curtains of heaven opened up, and the guys simultaneously realized their musical destiny involved mushrooms, corn liquor, loud banjo, and short but intensely fast songs about mountains, girls, and mountain girls. And corn liquor.
The White Lightning Boys have toured all over Brown County, Indiana, up every hill and down every holler, occasionally venturing as far as Jasper, Indiana. Once they got lost and ended up in Watseka, Illinois which was fortuitous because they were asked to open for the legendary Tony Rice Unit. And Ryan Deasy (bass, vocals) met Christae and fell hill over holler in love. The Boys have also shared stages, spotlights and sometimes cookie recipes with local, regional, national and international touring artists such as Tim Grimm, Ockerville River, Travelin’ McCourys, Cornmeal, Rumpke Mountain Boys, Henhouse Prowlers, Flatland Harmony Experiment, New Old Cavalry, Whipstitch Sallies, The Cox Brothers, Lexi Minnich – and Harsch Reality, they’ve even had coffee and pie with Rev Peyton’s Big Damn Band. The band has played festivals with stars such as Mike Compton, Larry Keel, Jamie Hartford and Great American Taxi, not to mention Danny Barnes and Eric Lambert. One of the Boys once refused to shake Del McCoury’s hand because Del refused to sign his wife’s breast.
Occasionally someone writes nice things about the band such as "Under the leadership of mandolin player and vocalist Barry Elkins, the band manages to retain a smooth, rich sound that can lull you into a reverie then shake you up with their frenetic jamming". Rex-A-Vison or "The spirit of Brown County is perhaps most apparent in its string bands. The respect for legacy, the sense of one’s neighbors as treasured friends, and pride in craft are on full display among ... The White Lightning Boys". - Barney Quick
A couple of the Boys have gone so far as to be nominated for a prestigious Brown County Music Award, with Pickerdan bringing home the bacon bits with the Best Musician award in 2013, and Barry taking the 2014 special award for “Hottest Mandolin” because his instrument actually burst into flames one night.
Their only recording, Barefoot Nelly, was so good NUVO gave it 3 ½ out of 4 stars.
Barry, Bird, Pickerdan, Bob and Ryan in recent years have been lucky to perform in public with music veteran Michael Lindeau (- on fiddle). Michael hates when the Boys brag on stage about the fact that he won the Alaskan state fiddle championship, not once but twice, so don’t mention it.
Even though they prefer to be out in the woods mushroom hunting or building a log cabin and then picking fiddle tunes on the porch you will find the Boys performing at a music festival or venue near you. As long as it is close to their beloved Brown County. Kind of like hunting morel mushrooms, you have to know where and when to look.