Linda Clayman Lay grew up in Clayman Valley, a tiny community named after her family outside of Bristol, Tennessee. She grew up surrounded by music in a family that treasured tunes, from old-time and bluegrass to gospel and traditional country. Her father, mandolinist Jack Clayman, formed a family band with Linda and his family, taking them to the places where the local musicians gathered, jammed, and performed. Linda spent a lot of Saturdays Carter Family Fold, a barn-like performing place, at the Carter home place at Hiltons in Scott County, a few miles west of Clayman Valley. Here she got to know Jeanette and Joe Carter, son and daughter of A.P. and Sara Carter of the original Carter Family. The Fold was one of the places Linda enjoyed going to flatfoot dance, but her father soon had her performing on guitar, and she later learned bass from the local fiddling barber, Gene Boyd. She also took up and mastered the autoharp.
Linda later founded and led Appalachian Trail, an innovative bluegrass band that performed for more than 20 years. In Appalachian Trail, Linda truly found her voice, becoming not just the band’s lead singer but one of the most beloved singers in bluegrass. During her years touring with Appalachian Trail, she met the gifted guitar player and singer—and her future husband—David Lay. David encouraged Linda to venture out to tour with other musicians, and today when she plays he is always beside her.
After putting their stamp on several of Cracker Barrel's Heritage Series CDs in the early 2000s, Linda and David performed a number shows with the brilliant mandolinist and former Johnson Mountain Boy David McLaughlin. At some of their first concerts at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and at the Lowell Folk Festival, they received standing ovations and rave reviews. Linda has recently signed with Mountain Fever Records and is excited to be working with Mark Hodges and his crew. They have worked hard getting her first single out to radio and making great progress on finishing the recording. Linda said, "It is phenomenal to work with engineer, Aaron Ramsey, and to be able to create such a diverse recording. Mark and his staff work hard to promote their artist and I could no be happier to be included with such a great roster of musicians and bands."
David Lay grew up listening to his father sing and preach and was fortunate to be able to attend a lot of the all night singing conventions where he heard some of the greats in Southern Gospel. David played bass for a gospel group when he met Linda. He switched to guitar and after a brief courtship they married and he was performing in front of thousands of listeners. David is a very solid, versatile rhythm player and is able to adapt to the diverse styles of music with ease. Davids rhythm along with McLaughlins' defines the sound that Springfield Exit has established. He has always had the ability to hear his part with very little effort. His singing matches Linda's so well that the blend is seamless.
David McLaughlin is perhaps best known for his signature mandolin playing and harmony singing with the Johnson Mountain Boys, appearing on eight of their albums for the major indie label Rounder Records, two of which were Grammy finalists. The band's live album won the first International Bluegrass Music Associations (IBMA) Album of the Year award. Numerous session credits include his work with Appalachian singer and National Heritage Fellowship winner Hazel Dickens and his duo recording as Crowe & McLaughlin. David is being inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame for his work with the Johnson Mountain Boys. He is a an outstanding vocalist he can reaches the baritone under Linda with ease making their blend flawless.
Darren Beachley is best known for his tenor voice and the time he spent with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver from 2005-2009 during Doyle's seven consecutive IBMA Vocal Group of the year run. He is a veteran of the Washington DC area music scene. He spent time as a dobro player in Bill Harrell's Virginians in the 1990s and moved to guitar after discovering his tenor voice which lead to opening many doors. A veteran of many recording sessions his voice has graced many recording projects. He has made the blend with the group more exciting as it enables Linda to sing at her preferred high range. Finding musicians like Darren who can easily sing any part makes the band a sought after group.
The band rounds out with Curt Alvis on banjo. Curt spent some time playing with the Mark Newton Band and Mill Run Bluegrass Band. Curt is a Jimmy Martin disciple and loves the Big E, Bill Emerson. His has patterned his style after Bill and adapts to Springfield Exits versatile material with ease. Curt helps with some of the harmonies adding to the diversity of the band. This make it a pleasure to watch the band perform. Curt is a retired fireman and works now as a fire investigator. The band is excited to start touring.