The Kansas-based post-punk progressive bluegrass outfit Split Lip Rayfield was comprised of vocalist/banjoist David Lawrence, guitarist/dobroist Kirk Rundstrom, and one-string bassist Jeff Eaton, whose instrument was fashioned from the gas tank of a 1965 Ford. An outgrowth of the group Scroat Belly (though it didn't take long for them to outlive the band that spawned them), the trio debuted in 1998 with a self-titled LP issued on the Bloodshot label. In the Mud followed a year later; by this time, singer and mandolin player Wayne Gottstine had expanded the lineup to four pieces and Eric Mardis had replaced Lawrence on banjo. The new millennium saw the release of a third effort, Never Make It Home, which arrived in stores in late 2000. After three years of touring, which saw the group opening for everyone from Del McCoury to Nashville Pussy, Split Lip Rayfield recorded and released a fourth long-player, Should Have Seen It Coming, in 2004. In early 2006, Rundstrom (who had also released a few solo records) was diagnosed with cancer. He continued to perform with the band for months as he fought and underwent treatment, but Rundstrom ultimately succumbed to the disease in February 2007, just about a week after playing what would be his last show.
~ Jason Ankeny