Cherryholmes has been a true phenomenon in the world of bluegrass, a world that doesn’t get to use that word very often. At a time when it generally took a decade or more for bands or artists to “emerge” and even be considered for top awards and major audience mindshare, a very unusual family band from Los Angeles (of all places) appeared out of the blue and caused a major stir. They got signed to the prestigious Skaggs Family Records and after just a few years of touring and recording they were in line for Grammy Awards and they won the IBMA’s Entertainer of the Year.
But hey, they’re doggone entertaining. Not since the Stonemans (forgive me if I’m overlooking somebody) had the world seen a bluegrass band this big composed entirely of family, shredding with familial familiarity – Mom, Dad and four kids all thrumming together in perfect synch. Their story was wild, what with the sudden bluegrass epiphany and the family-unit practicing and the kids all finding their voice on different instruments. Best of all, they didn’t ease in with a wimpy, derivative sound. They shocked audiences with their intensity and speed and bold vocals. Molly and Cia are stunning instrumentalists and singers, and the boys have produced rare rhythmic drive.
Alas, the unique forces that brought this band together and sent them on their decade-plus journey from a poor L.A. neighborhood to major performing arts centers and symphony halls are the same things that made their demise perhaps inevitable. With the kids growing into adults, the Cherryholmes band has decided to disband. As they said on their website: “there comes a time in a family when seasons change. We’ve always known this season would come. Now that it has, we believe it is only right that our young folks be allowed to follow their own dreams and goals for the future. With spouses to consider and differing career aspirations, they deserve the freedom to choose their own paths without the extreme interdependence that exists in a family business.”
Which mean that you lucky people who have bought up all the tickets to this week’s sold out Music City Roots will be seeing the last Nashville appearance by Cherryholmes and the third to last appearance of all, as they’ll be wrapping on May 7 in Galax, VA. This will be their third stop at the Loveless and they’ve helped bring so much vitality and passion to our show. We’ll miss them and we’re honored to be hosting them this one last time. Of course, this doesn’t count whatever exciting project the kids get up to.
Now we know a lot of y’all are coming with great excitement about the Civil Wars, and it has been exciting to watch this very new group come together and reach so many fans so fast. They’re a phenomenon too, and while they’re not a bluegrass band (at all), they do tap into the folk traditions that inspired bluegrass harmony singing. Joy Williams and John Paul White teamed up in the most random, amazing way – at a kind of writing camp where they were paired at random to co-write. That was only 2008, and yet here in 2011 they are probably the hottest act in Americana music, playing major theaters and drawing rave reviews. I think of them as a post-modern Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, because they can make so much music with just two bodies. We are lucky to have them stop by.
And my heavens, even if we didn’t have these history-making acts to talk about, we could brag on another history-making act playing Roots this week. Jonathan Edwards was a self-made folk rocker turned acoustic master who had a massive hit with the great song “Sunshine” in 1971 and who has pursued an exceptionally fulfilling and serious career. His work with the Seldom Scene produced a classic mid 80s bluegrass album, and he’s just always been there with substance and understated style. We also welcome the intriguing David Vandervelde and our friends The Vespers, who are also playing an in-store Tuesday at Whole Foods Market in Green Hills, where you could win impossible-to-get tickets for Wednesday.
Because yeah, we’re sold out. And we’re ready to go.