"I've had a chance to listen to the new On Tyme record a couple of times already and must say that I love the band. Obviously your banjo player and harp guy are joined at the hip. Sounds like Ralph Stanley raised you right. You guys and Reja sing like angels with creative and pleasing harmonies that melt perfectly into instrumental breaks. I think Annabelle is my favorite. Next time Alison Krause is in town she can leave Union Station back home and play with On Tyme." –GS
Lead singer and guitarist Robert Steffey was born and raised in Virginia, just a stone’s throw from the home of Ralph Stanley, the Carters, and other notable old time and bluegrass musicians. Robert learned music by listening to his mother sing old Gospel hymns in their Appalachian home, but put music aside to move to Illinois and start a family and career. Many years later, Robert felt called to start a Gospel band, but was discouraged because he “couldn’t find anyone that played the same kind of music I did”. One day he ran into a friend who steered him to a nearby jam, where he met several musicians, including banjo and bass player Bill Jager.
Bill grew up in the Saint Louis area listening to bluegrass and folk music. Throughout high school and college, he perfected his guitar and harmonica playing. After serving in the army, he eventually moved to rural northern Illinois to follow his family roots. Many years later, he was given a banjo by his dad, an avid bluegrass fan, and Bill decided to learn to play. Before long, he found himself playing with Robert and other area musicians, such as Charlie Rafferty.
Over sixty years ago, when Charlie Rafferty was six or seven years old, he found an old harmonica washed up on the bank of the creek near his rural Kentucky home. The rest is history. Now, Charlie is known as one of the finest harp players around, and has played or recorded with countless musicians. After living in numerous states and traveling all over the world, he now lives in La Salle County, Illinois. He has played on and off with On Tyme since its beginning in 2004.
As a youth, band vocalist, mandolin, and guitarist Reja Jager became enamored with blues and folk music. She played various instruments and sang for several years before taking a twenty-year hiatus to raise children. One day while traveling in Missouri she was invited to a local Ozark bluegrass jam, which kindled her interest in bluegrass and old time music. Back in Illinois, she started attending local jams, where she met the rest of the band (including Bill, whom she later married).
Banjo player and vocalist Charlie Stewart (also known as "C2") joined the group in 2006, after Bill heard him playing banjo at a jam and promptly told the rest of the band: “We need that guy!” Charlie was drafted soon afterward, replacing Bill on banjo. Born in Missouri, Charlie eventually found himself in Will County, Illinois, where he fronted several successful Chicago area rock and country groups. Eventually he drifted into bluegrass, the music he had been raised on. In addition to his stellar banjo playing, Charlie also plays mandolin, guitar, and electric bass.