This review of Kyle Dillingham & Horseshoe Road is a contribution from Pamm Tucker, Entertainment Editor for Walker’s Folk Mania Media. Photos accompannying the review are by Budd Walker.
Edmond North High School, Edmond Oklahoma, along with the Oklahoma Arts Council were hosts to a very unique experience on April 21. Sixty high school students volunteered to perform with noted fiddle sensation, Kyle Dillingham & Horseshoe Road. The audience literally had their world flipped upside down last Friday night with a fusion of orchestral and bluegrass music. Horseshoe Road is comprised of four talented music veterans, whose combined experience counts up to over 130 years, offering a fusion of musical style. Truly Americana, Kyle and the band blend and eclectic style of music ranging from bluegrass to blues, gypsy jazz to western swing, Gospel to country and rock. They even do a little “rapgrass,” as Kyle likes to call it. All of these entwined together become what you might call Heartland Acoustic.
Dillingham, an Enid, Oklahoma native, began playing the violin at 9. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma City University, in instrumental music performance. Honored by being invited to perform on the Grand Old Opry twice before he turned 19, Kyle has performed for royalty in Thailand, Singapore, Beijing, (to name just a few of the over 30 countries where he has performed). He has also shared the stage with Roy Clark, Hank Thompson, Jimmy Webb, Leona Mitchell and many other well-known artists. Music appears to be the center of Dillingham’s family life. Recently on social media, Kyle and his son, Christopher, had a video clip of Old McDonald, where Christopher was sawing on the fiddle while accompanied by Kyle on acoustic guitar. Christopher is not the only light in Kyle’s life, he and his wife Andrea also have a daughter, Felicity. Andrea also is a very talented musician and accomplished cellist, as well as owner of Andrea Dillingham Photography.
Playing acoustic guitar with the group, you find a former Oklahoma teacher of the year, a 3-time teacher of honor at the Oklahoma academic Allstate celebration of excellence, and the orchestra instructor at Edmond North High. Peter Markes (pronounced Marcus) has taken his class to perform at Carnegie Hall for their Midwest clinic, and also sings lead and harmony vocals as well and contributes original songs. Growing up in the Oklahoma wheat fields, Markes took his memories and wrote one of their songs, Harvest Time. He will leave his high school students behind at the end of the school year to begin his adventure as a full-time musician with the band. He and his wife, Kris, are proud parents of 2 sons, Patrick (8), and Vincent (5).
Brent Saulsbury, the stand up bass player, grew up in Perryton Texas. At the age of five, he could be found playing on his grandmother’s piano. Seven years later, he began blowing the saxophone, and by the age of 17, Brent was playing the guitar. It didn’t take long to realize that he was a musician. Saulsbury’s background had always been predominately hard rock prior to joining up with Kyle. In addition to being an instructor, bassist at his church, Brent is also quite a collector having acquired a vast stock of guitars, (over 70), saxophones (20+), and various other string, woodwind, and brass instruments. Saulsbury is active 6 nights a week playing in different venues, but thoroughly enjoys his Horseshoe Road gigs.
Drummer Steve Short, a Stockton, California native, began playing the snare at the age of 9. Growing up on a tour bus was a way of life with his family group, Jerry Short and The Countrymen. In 1970, the Shorts, while in route to Nashville, decided to make Oklahoma City their home. Steve is one of the most recorded studio drummers in the state. When he toured with his parents, they performed on the Grand Old Opry when only a snare was allowed at the Ryman. Steve has since had the opportunity to perform with a full set of drums on the Opry stage when he toured with Reba McEntire for 3 years. Short has also performed on Hee Haw, The Gospel Singing Jubilee, and has played with some of the best, such as Leon Rausch, Byron Berline, and, of course, Horseshoe Road. Although a drummer is not standard issue in bluegrass, you can find Steve Short performing regularly with both Horseshoe Road and the Byron Berline band.
“Broken Beyond Repair” is what Kyle and his band call the segment of the show when they pull tattered violins onto stage and coax sweet sounds from them. “Even when you feel like your life is permanently damaged, there is still something you can do with what you have left,” he says from the stage. Taking a few aphorisms from Alcoholics Anonymous, Kyle wrote one of the most beautiful inspirational songs, But for the Grace of God. He told us that recently, after a performance, an older gentleman came up and handed him his 40-year sobriety coin. The man said it did him some good for 40 years, and now maybe Kyle could use it to help someone else. All from the sweet sounds of a few broken string instruments, tugging at your heart strings to let you know that absolutely nothing is broken beyond repair.
You can get your own fix of Kyle Dillingham and Horseshoe Road at www.horseshoeroad.net.
I already have!
Their latest album is Fear Or Faith.