Bluegrass Today always pays special attention where young pickers are concerned. The education and nurturing of our next generation of bluegrass artists is a matter of great concern to many formerly young people such as myself who care deeply about the future of this music.
So it is always a treat to find out about talented young pickers like Green on the Vyne, a Nashville-based quintet of teenaged grassers. Their debut CD, Ready For The Pickin’, was released a few weeks back, showing that these youngsters have learned quite a bit about music – plus performing and recording – at such a tender age.
Here’s a video introduction to the band…
The eldest member of the group is 16 years old, but they have all spent quite some time exposed to and studying bluegrass. They have had the great good fortune of having Deanie Richardson as a mentor, something that is often missing when talented young artists take a shot in the professional music world. Deanie was a member of The New Coon Creek Girls in the mid-1990s, along with Dale Ann Bradley, and has worked in Nashville with Patty Loveless, Vince Gill and many other country acts, returning to bluegrass from time to time as well.
Deanie explains how the band came together…
I was part owner in a music school (The Main Stage in Springfield, TN) and three of these band members, Sydni Perry, Ty Jackson and Emily Dean, were students of mine. I had been working with them individually for a while on their various instruments and singing, but often wondered what it would sound like – of if they would even know what to do – if I put them together in a trio setting.
It was amazing. I could not believe what I was hearing. They all three heard parts and the blend of them together was so intense; it brought me to tears. At this point they were only 12 and 13 years old. I was so in awe of how they knew instantly what to do with these parts….even though they hadn’t spent a lot of time around bluegrass music. They just instantly heard the natural bends and twist.
Then we added the most talented Casey Campbell, son of the late, great Jimmy Campbell. I have known Casey since birth. His mother Marcia is a lifelong friend of mine and my family’s. Casey just fit right in and added the traditional mandolin style that I was hearing with these vocals. He is such a tasteful old soul kind of player.
After that, we needed a banjo player. The band was formed in Robertson County, TN so there just so happened to be an incredible player that lived right there. Luke Munday is a banjo player to look out for. He has has incredible timing and drive. Luke also provides great guitar skills to the band.
Emily plays bass, Ty plays guitar and Sydni sings. My goal was to just teach these 5 very talented young people how to work together as a band, how to play fills, how to work your harmonies, how to work up new songs, how to work through your conflicts, how to work in a studio, how to work your record table, how to do interviews….etc. I have some very talented people around me who help me out with all of this.
This turned into a really heartfelt project for me. I love these kids! Now it seems they have some dates booked and it has turned into something a little bigger than my music school sessions. Although, I still want them to continue to learn through this whole entire process and to have fun. If they aren’t having fun then what’s the point?
Despite their age, these young pickers take the music seriously and think that having a recording released is a very cool thing. As Casey puts it…
“I feel lucky to have the chance to put a CD like this at my age. Recording the album was a blast. You never realize how much you love a group of people until you sit in a room listening to the banjo player play for hours until he finally finds the tone he wants! Despite the fact that it took us over a year, two different recording studios, and many different strings to complete, I’m glad it happened and it’s finished. We are your average school kids by day, but crazy musicians and singers by night.”
And Emily is in complete agreement.
“It’s simply amazing. Two years ago I would’ve never thought that anything like this would be happening to me, or Green on the Vyne for that matter. This has always been my dream, and I can’t believe I’m getting to live it out at such a young age. This CD was basically my life for about a year and a half, so it’s so incredible to actually see it in print and share it with anyone and everyone who wants to hear it.”
The band had their CD release concert at the venerable Station Inn in Nashville, a fairly prestigious debut for an unknown young band. They may be getting attention for their music from Nashville’s bluegrass folks, but I wondered what their friends thought about them playing bluegrass.
Emily: “Even though most aren’t familiar with the genre, all of my friends are extremely supportive of my music. Not many of them understand why I put so much effort and time into Green on the Vyne, but when they come to see us play they quickly see just why I’m so passionate about what I do.”
Casey: “Although Bluegrass is not exactly ‘hip’ to most kids my age, my friends are still supportive and love to come out and see GOTV when we play around Nashville.”
Though they still have a few years to make career plans, both of them are eyeing the music business as a potential livelihood.
Casey: Music is my passion. I would love to have a career involving music whether I am playing music as a Bluegrass superstar, producing music, or even building and repairing instruments. As long as I can be a part of the future of Bluegrass music in any way, I’ll be content.”
Emily: “I would personally love to make music my career. My mom’s always told me to do what I love, and that just seems to fit. I can’t really say what I plan on doing after high school. That’s still a mystery to me. I hope to become a jazz/swing/ and folk singer all rolled into one. But even if music doesn’t become my main career, it will always be a huge part of my life.”