Dixie Flyers. Bluegrass group, formed in July 1974 in London, Ont. Founding members were Brian Abbey (bass), Bert Baumbach (guitar), Dennis LePage (banjo), and Ken Palmer (mandolin). Willie P. Bennett (harmonica) joined soon after, taking the place of the requisite violinist, and remained until 1979. Baumbach and Palmer, who have been among the group's lead vocalists, remained constant to the Flyers in 1991; personnel has otherwise included, in turn, Gordon Stobbe, Peter Robinson, J.P. (John) Allen, and again Robinson (violin), David Zdriluk, Abbey, and again Zdriluk (double bass), and David Jack, David Talbot, and Walter Maynard (banjo). In 1991 the Flyers were completed by Maynard, Zdriluk, and Mike Ethelston (harmonica).
The Flyers made five albums for Boot 1977-81: Light - Medium - Heavy (BBG-6000), Cheaper to Lease (BBG-6002), the wholely instrumental Just Pickin' (BBG-6004), For Our Friends (BBG-6007), and Five by Five (BBG-6017) A sixth, Business As Usual (BBG-6021), followed in 1987. Other Flyers recordings include New Horizons (1983, Stony Plain SPL-1077) and Live at the Wellington Tavern (1990, Flat Top Music FTMC-001, cass), the latter drawn from weekly Flyers broadcasts that began in 1989 on CJBX-FM, London.
By their longevity, versatility, and what Palmer has described as an evolutionary rather then revolutionary approach to the idiom, the Flyers have been Canada's most prominent bluegrass band, performing at festivals (Mariposa, Winnipeg, Bluegrass Canada, Festival of Friends, etc), fairs, nightclubs and universities across the country. They were the host band in 1985 for CFPL-TV's 'Bluegrass Express' and have appeared on 'The Tommy Hunter Show' and many other Canadian country TV series. In 1989 they took over direction of the Back 40 Bluegrass Festival at Woodstock, Ont. They also have performed in the USA - eg, at Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom (Ind) Festival in 1983 and on several occasions at the Flint (Mich) Folk and Bluegrass Festival.