Dry Branch Fire Squad was a modern bluegrass band dedicated to bluegrass, old-timey, and Southern gospel music traditions. Mandolin player and comedian Ron Thomason founded the Fire Squad in 1976. The earliest incarnation the group included guitarist John Baker, banjo player Robert Leach, and bass player John Carpenter. Two years later, Mary Jo Leet became the group's vocalist. The group released a series of independent releases before signing with Rounder in 1978; they would stay with the venerable roots label for the rest of their career.