I attended the Tennessee Fall Homecoming at the Museum of Appalachia over the weekend. While there I managed to catch up with three different bands that share a common thread. The Quebe Sisters Band, Southern Raised and The Bates Family all display the talents of siblings on stage. Rest assured there are no signs of rivalries here just wonderfully blended family harmonies and well trained musicians.
By now the bluegrass community is familiar with the Quebe Sisters Band from Texas. The three sisters, Grace, Sophia and Hulda front the band with triple fiddles. All three have held titles at regional, state and national level fiddle championships. Their career seems to be soaring taking them to well sought after venues and allowing them to share the stage with artists from a variety of different musical genres.
A band less familiar to the bluegrass scene is Southern Raised. Lindsay, Sarah, Emma Grace and Mathew Reith are classically trained musicians who first heard bluegrass music at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri four years ago.
According their mother, the youngsters took to the sounds of the instruments right off. They have successfully blended their classical precision with bluegrass instrument sounds and every so often you get a strong sense of their southern gospel influences. Similar to the Quebe gals, this sibling-fronted band is enjoying a succession of fine venues and blue ribbon contest finishes. If you are wise you will keep an ear out for them.
After listening to these families I was reminded of the Cherryholmes farewell concert in Galax, Virginia. Jere Cherryholmes explained how the successful family had reached the decision to stop touring. As I recall he said it was part of a natural growth process. It no longer made sense to maintain that type of schedule when so many of the members had their own families. It made me wonder about these two bands.
I asked the Quebbe sisters about their life on the road and their projected growth as a family band.
“Well right now none of us are married and we can do what we’re doing. We just want to travel a lot. Right now we all can do it and we love it, so we are going at it full throttle,” Sophia said. Indeed it does sound as if they are forward thinkers with what I would call good worries.
I asked about their greatest challenges as band leaders to which Grace responded, “Working at our craft. Always becoming better musicians and better singers. Branching out in all areas.”
The members of Southern Raised being relatively new to bluegrass music were not as familiar with the name Cherryholmes, but said they had already had discussions about their future.
“Our hope is that we can continue and we would love for (future spouses) whomever they might be to jump on board,” Lindsey said. The four also have ulterior motives for their band. “This is a ministry for us, so it’s up to the Lord, we will keep doing it for as long as He wants us to,” Lindsey said.
Right now they have their sights set on recording a new album with some impressive people that I agreed to keep confidential.
Now if you recall I mentioned three bands at in the beginning. The third band, The Bates Family also consists of siblings with talent. This band had played the first day of the festival and I was unable to make their show. I did however catch up with Gil Bates the patriarch of the family. Gil and his wife Kelly keep a busy schedule managing their 18 children, but I am hoping for an interview soon. Stay tuned.