Who's Who & Our Story
Annie Wilson (on guitar)  
helps her husband on their
ranch in Chase County where
they raised three daughters.
Annie is a former teacher, and
now works for the Flint Hills
Map and Education Program.  
She is Coordinator of the
Emma Chase Friday Night
Music in Cottonwood Falls. She
enjoys pasture walks with her
dog where she gets ideas for
her songs about the Flint Hills.
Jim Versch (on mandolin)
is a graphic artist and an
awesome mandolin player!
He taught art and coached  
volleyball at Marion High
School for 31 years.  Jim
acquired his versatile
improvisational skills
playing in numerous bands
including a Celtic band in
Nebraska and the ragtime-  
classical Prairie Goose
Stompers.  Jim and his wife
Judy enjoy their children
and grand-children.
Tallgrass Express String Band began playing together in 2004. Founding members were
Annie Wilson, Derrick Doty, Charlie Laughridge, Loren Ratzloff, and Gary Rinehart.

Since then, the band has gained the talents of
Carl Reed as of fall 2009 bringing his amazing
vocal, instrumental creativity, song-writing, and arrangement skills to the band.  What did we
ever do without Carl?
 Jim Versch joined the band in 2013, and his versatile instrumental style
adds immensely to all the band’s tunes.  Jim's wide knowledge of acoustic music and his
creative instinct for song arrangements have deeply enriched the Tallgrass Express sound.  In
Kim Schmidt came on board and contributes his rich talents from over 30 years of
performing with top-notch Kansas bands including Cactus Jack and also the Greenhorns.  Kim
is a true musician and brings both his classic fiddle technique and vocal versatility to the band.

Recently retired
CharlieLaughridge (fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, concertina and vocals),
played with us for ten years and is on all the band’s recordings including the recent double-CD
"Sky & Water, Wind & Grass." Tallgrass Express is indebted to Charlie for all his talents over
the last ten years.  Loren Ratzloff  played with the band until 2012.  Founder songwriter-author

Derrick Doty
of Council Grove was with us until 2006, and Gary Rinehart until 2005. We also
played early on with the late
Gary Hughes of Wichita who was a great influence.

We met primarily through the renowned
Friday night jam sessions at the  Emma Chase
in Cottonwood Falls, and related activities.  We are forever grateful to Monty & Sue
of the Emma for bringing so much music into our lives.   Their sponsorship of these
delightful, fun-packed evenings and other events such as special concerts, helps build
community and fellowship. We are thankful also to their best-in-the-world audiences who help
give experience and confidence to developing players.  We especially thank Sue & Monty for
sponsoring debut concerts of our CDs.

We recorded our first CD
Music of the Emma Chase in 2005 with the encouragement and
support of
Julia Ryan and Kerry Ahlstrom of Council Grove, as well as Monty and Sue Smith.

On our 2007 CD
Tallgrass Express Comes Back, we were so fortunate to have the immense
talent of
Carole Brown on bass, and again the amazing graphic design skill of Julia Ryan.  Our
own Charlie did the original watercolor painting of us in the stagecoach on the cover.  Both of
these first CDs included some original songs by members Derrick Doty, Annie Wilson, and
Charlie Laughridge.  

Our  2010
Clean Curve of Hill Against Sky, was our first entirely original album, and the first
we know of to be focused on entirely on themes of the Kansas Flint Hills, and was the beginning
Volume 1) of our series:  Songs of the Kansas Flint Hills.  Its package and 20-page full-
color books were once again designed by the phenomenal
 Julia Ryan.  The lovely Flint Hills
landscape on the cover and inside were painted by Annie's daughter, artist-teacher-musician
Emily Wilson who plays in the wonderful band
The Skirts.

Annie's receiving the
Flint Hills Balladeer designation from the Kansas Governor in January
2013 focused new attention on the band, and has encouraged us to continue with our special
focus on music from the Kansas Flint Hills, resulting in the most recent project,
Sky & Water,
Wind & Grass:  Volumes 2 & 3 Songs of the Kansas Flint Hills
- again all original (by both
Annie & Carl) and relating to the Kansas Flint Hills region.  

Our band photographers are  Brendy Muninger, Bruce Hogel, Katie Hancock, Emily Wilson, and
Julia Wilson.

We are thankful for the generous support of all our friends and community in pursuing our
musical efforts, and we hope we can give back to them at least half the fun we are having when
we play
Our Story & Our Thanks
Friday night Jam Session on a summer evening, Emma Chase Cafe, Cottonwood Falls
Carl Reed (on bass and guitar)
lives in Manhattan and worked
in the international programs of
KSU Grain Science for nearly
30 years. He now has his own  
grain scouting company in
Buhler.  He learned guitar while
in the Peace Corps and bought
a bass 15 years ago for
bluegrass jams. Carl has written
songs recorded by groups such
as Special Consensus and
Continental Divide.
Tallgrass Express
Kim “Smitty” Schmidt (on
fiddle and vocals) is the most
recent band member to join,
starting in early 2014. Kim
contributes his rich talents from
over 30 years of performing with
top-notch Kansas bands
including the Greenhorns and
Cactus Jack. Kim is a true
musician and brings both his
classic fiddle technique and
vocal versatility to the band.  He
is a finish carpenter and lives
near Goessel on his
grandfather's farm.
Tallgrass Express Alumni
(L to R)  Charlie Laughridge, Loren Ratzloff, Derrick Doty
Gary Rinehart
(at left) Carole Brown -
played bass on our
second CD