Initially the brainchild of Michigan folksingers K.C. Groves (now based in Lyons, CO) and Jo Serrapere, Uncle Earl were founded in 2000 after each artist had established herself as a solo artist. Work on their debut, She Went Upstairs, began shortly thereafter and little time passed before the duo added vocalist Tahmineh Gueramy to the mix, sealing the group's membership. When Sally Van Meter signed on to the project as producer and side musician, she was able to procure the talents of fiddler Laurie Lewis and mandolinist Pooh Stevenson to guest on the album, which, along with the hearty verbal support of Mollie O'Brien, gave She Went Upstairs more weight in the contemporary bluegrass community. The band self-released the album to favorable reviews in 2002.
Between finishing the recording of She Went Upstairs and its release, Groves made the move to Colorado, and Uncle Earl rarely found the chance to support their new record. Eventually the band dissolved and Groves released another solo album, Something Familiar, before she pieced together a new lineup under the Uncle Earl heading. Looking to expand the project into a more fleshed-out ensemble, Groves invited Rayna Gellert (fiddle, vocals), Abby Washburn (banjo, vocals), Kristin Andreassen (guitar, clogging, vocals), and Sharon Gilchrist (bass, mandolin, vocals) into the fold and the quintet recorded She Waits for Night. This time Uncle Earl found the production talents of Dirk Powell, and the results were favorable enough for Rounder to pick up and release the album in July 2005. Waterloo, Tennessee followed in 2007. Although each member lives in a different state, the quintet seems to suffer less the problems of proximity than the original Uncle Earl lineup. ~ Gregory McIntosh