‘Bluegrass on steroids’ in Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

‘Bluegrass on steroids’ in Beaver Creek

Special to the Daily

BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” As they say, blood is thicker than water.

The adage rings true with exceptional clarity when it comes to Cherryholmes. The Grammy-nominated bluegrass troupe is a family affair: dad Jere, mom Sandy and kids Cia Leigh, B.J., Skip and Molly Kate are currently touring the nation together on a bus, playing to sold out crowds and earning critical accolades along the way.

Cherryholmes formed in 1999. Jere took the family to a bluegrass festival to try and lift their spirits after the death of the family’s oldest child. Five short years later, the troupe (none of whom had been particularly musical, aside from singing in church) were named the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Entertainers of the Year.

“When this whole thing started, we never really had an end goal, professionally speaking, we did it as a way to get through, week by week, practicing and making music together,” said mom Sandy from the tour bus as they crossed the state of Arizona. “It was the act of playing together, as a family ” and it was a lot of fun. Everything that has come since then has been a really natural end product of the fact that we love making music together.”

When the band formed, none of the kids knew how to play instruments. In fact, to this day, none of the family knows how to read traditional music notes. They play from the heart, from memory, improvising together to find the right rhythm and notes that ultimately make up the tapestry of their sound.

“I think (the kids) always had a special gift, we just didn’t know about that gift or expect it to be what it is,” Sandy said. “We all always enjoyed music, we always had it on and enjoyed listening to it. But the kids have never had a formal lesson. When we’re working on a new song, it becomes a thing of memory. We create the music as we play it together ” ‘how about this here?’ or ‘let’s try that there.'”

So what does a little bit of this and a little bit of that sound like to the audience?

“Jere likes to refer to our music as bluegrass on steroids,” Sandy said.

“Our sound started out as pretty traditional bluegrass, influenced by masters like Jimmy Martin and Flatt and Scruggs,” she continued. “But now, as everyone has grown, we have more ideas, we’re writing our own music. “It has a modern sound to it ” the bass is really heavy, there’s lots of drive. We’re definitely inspired by the kids ” all that energy that young people have.”

Sandy is also quick to note that the music of Cherryholmes appeals to a much wider audience than just bluegrass fans.

“We put on a show that anyone who likes music will enjoy,” Sandy said. “We mix a new, modern-style bluegrass with more traditional mountain music and five-step dancing ” it’s a very active show. If you aren’t sure if you like bluegrass, don’t let that stop you. At our show, you’ll find something for everyone.”

She also reinforced that particularly in an intimate, 530-seat venue theater like the Vilar Performing Arts Center, the family is able to interact with the crowd more.

“When the audience is right up close to the stage, we can feed off them,” she said. “It’s such an interactive show, and they can really experience how our closeness plays into our sound.”

Sarah Dixon is the marketing director for the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. E-mail comments about this story to cschnell@vaildaily.com.

What: Cherryholmes

When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek

Cost: $45

More Information: http://www.vilarpac.org or 888-920-2787.

Support Local Journalism