Lorraine Jordan at Her CoffeeHouse
Monday, September 28, 2015
Cherryholmes (Reunion Band)
On Friday evening we drove over to Garner, NC to see the reunion show of Cherryholmes, at Lorraine's Coffeehouse & Music, a pleasant, comfortable venue serving up music most nights as well as coffee and light snacks. We arrived at the former pharmacy building that's been well re-purposed to discover that I had left my camera battery in its charger back at the trailer fifteen miles away. All the band pictures in the blog entry, except for the ones I found on Google and the coffee house website, were taken on my Samsung Galaxy G4, so please excuse them.
Lorraine Jordan at Her CoffeeHouse
Sellout Crowd on Saturday Night
Jere Cherryholmes & Cia
Cherryholmes story is uniquely bluegrass. Originally from California, the family lost a daughter, Sally Anna, in 1999. Looking for a way to heal and strengthen the shattered family, parents Sandy and Jere, after attending a bluegrass festival with the family, decided that making music together, having a jam, might bring the family closer together. They started playing instruments as part of their home-schooling effort. Within a year they had their first festival date in 2000 the band turned professional and started touring. They soon had attracted enough business to buy a small travel trailer, quickly replaced with a tour bus and finally relocating to Nashville, where they attracted the attention of Ricky Skaggs, who signed them to his label. In 2005, Cherryholmes was the first band to be nominated to be IBMA Emerging Artist and Entertainer in the first year, winning the top award.
Cia & Skip Cherryholmes
Cherryholmes was nominated for Grammy awards five times, and toured hard until 2011, performing all over the United States as well as in Asia and Europe with their high energy, eclectic performances and well crafted family show. During a chat I had with Sandy Cherryholmes at IBMA's Fan Fest in, probably, 2010 or 2011, she emphasized the family goal of using music, discipline, and love to first heal the family and then mold the youngsters into independent, fully-functioning adults. The culmination of this effort led to a family conference, after which Jere and Sandy retired, as the rest of the children (no longer children) followed their own directions. This has led Cia to Colorado, where she married Stetson Adkisson, with whom she performs as well as touring with fiddle guru Mark O'Connor's band. B.J. Cherryholmes plays fiddle with Dailey & Vincent. Molly, the youngest, after a period in Nashville where she followed her own alternative musical path, has recently joined Mountain Heart. Skip, who lives in Raleigh with his wife Stephanie Dilling Cherryholmes, has become a member of Sideline, a rising band led by former IIIrd Tyme Out emcee and banjo player Steve Dilling. It looks like the Cherryholmes plan is working out just fine.
Cherryholmes (Reunion Band) - The Harder I Fall - Video
Cherryholmes has been planning for over a year to perform at last weekend's Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival in Manteo, NC, which sadly was cancelled due to a tropical storm forcing the evacuation of Maneo Island. While B.J. and Molly both had Sunday obligations with their bands, the reunion event was moved to Lorraine's Coffeehouse in Garner with young Nathan Aldridge brilliantly filling in on fiddle. A sellout crowd assembled for this fine evening of Cherryholmes music together with a couple of songs by Stetson and Cia.
Stetson & Cia - Diamonds & Gasoline - Video
Sandy, Cia & Skip Cherryholmes
While Cherryholmes was only active on the blugrass scene for a brief ten years, their record of achievement and influence has been significant. Their music quickly evolved from traditional bluegrass focusing on classic covers to developing a lively style of song drawn from numerous sources, including their own writing, strongly influenced by a Celtic sound. Jere Cherryholmes tough-guy demeanor augmented by his singing both a stunning murder ballad and a humorous song about aging, contrasted sharply with the four active kids moving quickly and performing with virtuoso skill and intense, rapid picking. Cia remains a top banjo player and singer, accomplishing what few much more seasoned players can, picking and singing simultaneously. Their overall show demonstrated to the bluegrass community the importance of liveliness, movement and showmanship as a part of bluegrass. It was truly a delight to be reminded of this fine band's contributions and to look forward to the possibility of future reunion shows.
Cherryholmes - The Heat of the Morning - Video
Friday, September 25, 2015
The Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival offers a lot of opportunities in a relatively small space. The silos and the barn stand out as a symbol of a part of the world bluegrass came from, while the RV's, large and small, elaborate and simple, suggest where it has gone and is continuing toward. Bluegrass, in its own special way, represents a local and a worldwide celebration of the values of wholesome entertainment, often in an outdoor setting with simple acoustic instruments. Dumplin Valley, along with hundred of other events stands for those values and that music year after year.
Morning Around the Casteen 5th Wheel
A Banjo Marathon
Leonard & Larry Casteen
Floyd Bailey & Banjo Guru Larry Mathis
Larry Mathis & Sherry Casteen
Carson Peters is an eleven year old fiddler who's been dubber, I suspect by his Dad, as "Fiddlin' Carson Peters." Emphasis is placed, on his web site, on his youth and the celebrity situations he's already been exposed to. For his age, he's remarkably poised as an emcee and competent as a fiddle player. He serves as the band emcee, entering into a lively repartee with his band members, all of whom are much senior to him. One member of the audience mentioned to me that she didn't like his "disrespect" for his elders. I noted that this was all completely programmed and scripted by those who were the butt of his repartee, but the person wasn't persuaded. It's lively and keeps the show moving. As usual, I'll restrain myself until after his voice changes and we see how he develops, but at present, the results are charming and encouraging.
Stage B is a quiet, orderly place where super-fan Leon Johnson hosts friends his friends and artists can have a quiet getaway at festivals. Always good fun!
Breaking Grass in a mostly young and all enthusiastic and able band from northern Mississippi. Under the leadership of Cody Ferrar, a singer/songwriter who exudes warmth and friendlynessm writes strong songs, and sings the fire out of them, they have progressed well with their covers of some newgrass and some excellent second and third generation material as well as original material filled with faith, fun, and some degree of darkness. They write together, pick together, and have grown together, keeping the same band for several years of consistent growth. They seem just a skosh away from serious consideration for Emerging Artist. They're spreading their wings, recording, getting "track-by-track performances on Sirius/XM, just about ready. See them and see what you think.
Breaking Grass - God's Still Good - Video
Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run
Rebecca Frazier is a fine flat-picker, singer and songwriter with a experience ranging from her home in Virginia, to Michigan State University, Berklee College of Music, and time spent in Colorado. Now based in Nashville, her style incorporates classic bluegrass, some jazz and swing, and some more progressive bluegrass tunes. She's a pleasant and able band leader who has surrounded herself with young musicians most of whom have been contest winners at Winfield, Merlefest, or other large and important events. The result is high skill and an enjoyable time as well as a change of pace show at a bluegrass festival.
Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run - The Human Highway - Video
Rebecca Frazier & Friend (the WDVX Chicker - Freddie Smith
Sideline - Bittersweet Memories - Video
Sideline began as just that, a sideline for a group of busy musicians with regular jobs on other bands looking for some picking fun during the off season. What a surprise when a part-time bluegrass band playing classic bluegrass covers suddenly had over thirty dates with little or no effort made to find bookings. Then they put out a CD which they gave the creative name of "Session One." What's happened? Sideline has become a highly sought after band noted for its first rate instrumentals and the always amusing patter of emcee Steve Dilling, long-time banjo player and emcee for IIIrd Tyme Out. Brothers Brian Aldridge carrying heavy responsibility on vocals and mandolin and his younger brother, fifteen year old Nathan Aldridge, are standouts. Jason Moore has long been recognized as one of the best bass players in the business. Skip Cherryholmes is animated carrying water with his rhythm guitar, flat picking and singing. Very strong band!
Sideline - Bittersweet Memories - Video
The Lonesome River Band
Sammy Shelor joined the Lonesome River Band in 1990 and became its owner in 2000. The band's sound has become one of the leaders in developing and incorporating the sound and feel of rock music within the constraints of bluegrass string band instruments and form. It has become, over the years one of the most widely respected and busiest bands on the circuit. They're a classic closing band, bringing energy and drive to their work. Though they've been the home for many top players like Ronnie Bowman, Don Rigsby, and Kenny Smith, their sound has continued to evolve despite the depth of their catalog, changes in personnel and the demand from fans for singing old favorites. While some people may yearn for the past, for us the current LRB represents the finest aggregation Shelor has put together in the years we've been watching and listening to them. We always look forward to seeing them, letting the great songs and band personality work its way further into us. Shelor is well-recognized and rewarded as one of the finest contemporary banjo players. Brandon Rickman deserves such recognition as a singer and writer of many of the songs they perform as well as a fine guitar player. Barry Reed is simply one of the best bass players on tour. Jesse Smathers, only with the band for a few months, has already put his own stamp on the tenor solos, especially with his rendition of the Merle Haggard classic "Shelley's Winter Love." LRB is genuinely one of the best and most entertaining bands around, not because of their patter, but because of the excitement their music generates.