The Mel Tillis Band
The Statesiders
Keyboard—Band Leader—Musical Director

Dennis has been with Mel for over 30 years, having been hired just after completing his Bachelor’s Degree in music theory, composition and piano. Originally from Bennington, Vermont, he began studying classical piano at age seven. Over the years he has played with bands in just about every musical genre, as well as having been musical director for a professional theater company. During off-times since joining Mel, he has also done composing, arranging and recording work for Jim Stafford, Jimmie Rodgers, Rodney Dillard, and comedian/juggler Philip Wellford. Dennis also composed and performed the score to the 1986 Mel Tillis / Roy Clark film "Uphill All The Way". Dennis enjoys spending time with his son, Dylan, and his hobbies include the Titanic, scuba diving, and film and television music. He lives in Branson with his wife, Becky Priest, who is band leader and keyboardist with country artist Neal McCoy.

Audio Engineer—Production Manager

James R. Carter III (Jamie) has been the Audio Engineer with Mel Tillis and the Statesiders since 1993. Originally from Marshfield, Missouri, Jamie now resides in Nixa, Missouri with his wife and two sons. Jamie's love and enthusiasm for music led him to begin playing guitar at an early age. His influences range across all genres of music, with the art of songwriting being his true musical love. This is the avenue that drew him to Mel Tillis. Making the transition from musician to Audio Engineering was an easy task, after realizing that mixing and producing was nothing more than learning another instrument. Jamie has logged over 6000 performances and countless studio projects with Mel. He is proud of his album credits with Mel, ranging from Grammy Award winning recordings to Independent projects for Mel's Label. When Jamie is not in the studio or on the road with Mel, you can find him at home with his family or locked up in his home studio fine tuning his craft.


Grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Has been with Mel over 30 years. George plays harmonica, rhythm guitar, percussion, and on occasion, drums. Has been a musician for more than 45 years—started playing drums in small bands in his hometown in Denver, Colorado, before moving to Nevada, playing that circuit for almost 2– years—country and rock bands. Worked with artists Henson Cargill, Duane Eddy, Fats Domino, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, The Kimberlys, and Custer’s Last Band. Joined the Statesiders in 1981. When not on the road with Mel, George worked as a recording engineer at Mel’s studio and Porter Wagoner’s studio with various artists. He now resides on his 5-acre farm in Branson, Missouri, with his wife, Rebecca, along with a wide variety of animals. Hobbies include classic cars, motorcycles, amateur radio, and gardening. Favorite colors are “black and chrome!”

Johnny Cox Johnny Cox
Steel Guitar

Johnny Cox started playing guitar in 1966 but lost interest until he heard a record by a local DJ that had a pedal steel on it. The player was Hal Rugg. After moving to Nashville in June of 1967, he was able to meet many of the great steel players of the era. They were his teachers. By 1970, Johnny was playing with his father’s band in local Nashville clubs. In 1972, Johnny began his professional career joining Del Reeves band. Since then he has played for such legends as Ernest Tubb, Cal Smith, Gene Watson, Connie Smith, Ray Price and many more. This is Johnny’s second full time stint with Mel and The Statesiders. Johnny recently moved from Texas to Missouri and has 2 children.

Acoustic Guitar

Brian joined Mel’s band back in 1981. He has played guitar with Mel for most of 20 years, both on the road and at Mel’s theater in Branson, Missouri. In 2001, he decided to move back to Nashville, where he worked with various artists, including two years with Ray Stevens. Other artists he has worked with include Mel Street, Jack Greene and Jeannie Sealy. Brian rejoined the Statesiders on New Year’s Eve, 2005.

Brian resides in Portland, TN. He has one daughter, Melinda, and one son, Dallas, who is a free lance cinematographer in Los Angeles, where he lives with his two children, Cierra and Jack.

Bruce Hoffman Bruce Hoffman

Fiddler, Bruce Hoffman is the newest member of the Statesiders. He was raised on a farm in rural Howard Lake, Minnesota where his parents both sang and played country and bluegrass music. Bruce began playing the fiddle at the early age of 4 years and soon picked up several other instruments along the way. By 14 he started playing in bands. He had made several appearances on Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion” radio show and even 2 appearances on “Ed McMahan’s “Star Search”. Bruce has worked with many artists such as Buck Trent, Moe Bandy, Pam Tillis, Johnny Lee, Barbara Fairchild, Leona Williams, Rodney Dillard and many others. Since 1994, Bruce resides near Branson Missouri with his wife Donna-Fay, and his sons Ryan and Keith. He enjoys spending time with his family, recording in his studio, building things in his workshop and the great outdoors.

Bass Guitar

Bass player Al Weir began working with the Statesiders in 1995. He grew up on the Iron Range in northeastern Minnesota. After getting a guitar for Christmas at age 9, Al began teaching himself to play and sing with his parents’ country music records. After high school and a couple of years in the U.S. Navy, he began playing in rock and country bands all around the Twin Cities and throughout the Midwest, where he took up the bass. In 1986 he joined Pake McIntyre to tour in support of his RCA records. Al then met some musicians in Lubbock, Texas, where he stayed for 8 years performing in the dance halls of west Texas, and where he met and married his wife, Beverly. He then relocated to Branson, MO, where he was invited to join the Statesiders at Mel’s theater.


Jim Garstang, pianist, hails from Belle, Missouri, and, like most of the Statesiders, has been with Mel for many years, joining the band in 1979. He and his wife, Connie, reside in Branson, Missouri. Jim started out in gospel music, and in the early 1970’s, spent two years with the famed Cathedral Quartet. He has also worked with such diverse acts as the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Bobby Vinton, Leroy Van Dyke, and The Platters, but has spent the majority of his professional career with Mel Tillis and the Statesiders. When not on the road with Mel, Jim frequently does recording session work in the Branson/Springfield area.

Jim enjoys golf, politics, and is a big baseball fan.

Mark Pearman Mark Pearman

Mark Pearman was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, where music was a big part of Mark and his family’s life. He was taught how to play fiddle at the age of 11 by his dad and his uncle. He played bluegrass festivals and other shows until he was out of school, while always dreaming of playing on the Grand Ole Opry. Mark has had the great opportunity of playing with some of the greatest stars in country music (including Dottie West, Loretta Lynn and Roy Clark, among others). Mark’s family includes two children - Ryan and Stephanie, and his beautiful wife, Kathy. Mark and Kathy are the owners of the Branson Craft Mall in Branson, MO, and Mark is also a pilot. He loves spending time on the lake, and is very honored to be a Statesider


Forever a Statesider

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