From the halls of Unicoi County High School to hosting a release party for his debut album Troy Boone’s bluegrass career has been one to remember.

The release party for Boone’s album, “First Impressions,” is set for Friday, May 29, at The Downhome in Johnson City. Tickets will be $10 with doors set to open at 7 p.m.

Boone recently recalled his journey to the bluegrass realm began during his senior year at UCHS with The Erwin Record.

“Basically, I was a senior in high school and hadn’t been picking as much,” he said. “I remember walking into the drama department during lunch and saw Craig Shelton and Lincoln Hensley picking their guitars.”

Boone joined in and soon the music played by the students caught the interest of teacher Lori Ann Wright and eventually led to the formation of the UCHS Bluegrass Band.

Boone had been interested in music since the age of seven, he said. Boone’s father, David, played a vital role in helping the music flow through the household.

With experience in mandolin, banjo and guitar, the transition into studying music at East Tennessee State University was seamless.

“You have to try to not progress at ETSU,” Boone said. “They have such a successful bluegrass program. There’s a place in Sam Wilson Hall called ‘The Lounge’ where people will go just to pick. It is a great environment to mature your style.”

A wealth of well-versed instructors at the university help, Boone added. One of the private instructors includes Grammy nominated artist Adam Steffey, a member of The Boxcars, a bluegrass band.

Boone decided to pursue a musical career after a friendship was formed with fellow musician Aaron ‘Frosty’ Foster.

During a meeting at Foster’s apartment in Johnson City, Boone met up with Kyle Murphy, a member of the ETSU Pride Band and an established mandolin player in his own right.

After the encounter and learning about the recording process, the wheels were put into motion to create “First Impressions.”

“I wanted to record an album,” Boone said. “I met with the lab manager on campus (Ben Bates) and was able to get the CD underway.”

The debut album features 10 songs, five originals and five cover songs. Boone said the album has a mixture of modern and old-school bluegrass tunes that will reel in any lover of the genre.

“It was a stressful time,” Boone added. “I was finishing up finals, but now that’s out of the way and we’re sending the final cuts out to be recorded. The goal going forward is to push to have some air time on the radio after the debut part. It is a weird situation because as a singer, I know my first album won’t be the best I put out. Every time you play, you just work on getting better. I know from mid-winter to now, I’ve grown as a singer and a musician and I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”

The journey doesn’t stop for Boone. He has shows lined up, including one in June at the Sally Gap Bluegrass Festival in Kentucky and another at a festival in Vermont this July.

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