Three on a String

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Three on a String.jpg
Three on a String at the Lowenbrau Haus

Three on a String is a long-lived bluegrass trio. The group was founded in 1971 by banjo player Bobby Horton, guitarist Jerry Ryan, and bassist John Vess.

Horton and Ryan first played together at Horse Pens 40 in 1970 while both were students at Samford University. George Pruett suggested that they find a bass player and, with Ryan, they began bringing their unique bluegrass-folk-comedy performances to Birmingham audiences. Their debut was at the Lowenbrau Haus in Homewood and that became their regular home for the next two decades.

After the Lowenbrau closed Three on a String had a year-long stint at the Cadillac Café in Southside, then returned to Homewood for seven years at the Stage Door.

Vess left the band in 1972 and Andy Meginniss took over on bass until 1985. The band rotated through numerous other bassists, none of whom were experienced on the stand-up bass fiddle before joining the band. Among them were Joe Estes, Shelton Harden, Terry Ryan, Gordon Burt, Mark Weldon, Rowdy Yates, Dick Wilson and Brad Ryan (Jerry's son). The group has also welcomed additional instrumentalists for particular recordings or shows. Meginniss rejoined the group as bassist in the mid 2000s, with Brad Ryan appearing as a fourth member on fiddle and another instruments.

Throughout their existence, Three on a String have acted as ambassadors for Birmingham, playing for two presidents and with nearly a dozen symphony orchestras. Introducing each show with "We're here to have fun!", they pepper the act with comedic banter and even occasional skits. They have made numerous television appearances, including several for Tom York's "Morning Show".

The group has been inducted into the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame, the Alabama Blue Grass Hall of Fame, and the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.


  • Three on a String (1974) Three on a String
  • Three on a String (1975) Mirth and Merriment
  • Three on a String (1977) With Strings
  • Three on a String (1979) Best of Friends
  • Three on a String (1981) Going Places
  • Three on a String (1991) 20 Years
  • Three on a String (1994) 1994 Plus Tax
  • Three on a String (1996) 25th Anniversary
  • Three on a String (19__) Merry Christmas


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