Bluegrass tours have been known to stop in some unique places that other genres might never think to book… school auditoriums, community centers, fields on a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Lafferty Pike, an all-female, family bluegrass band that hails from southwestern Ohio, can now add libraries to that list. The group has embarked on a busy schedule this summer hitting up libraries across Ohio and Kentucky for performances and “bluegrass petting zoos.”
Most of the performances have targeted children and families as a way of introducing bluegrass to new audiences that might not have ever seen or heard bluegrass instruments such as a banjo or mandolin. After a short performance – thirty minutes or so – the band allows audience members to experience the instruments for themselves. They refer to it as a bluegrass petting zoo, because the kids and others in the audience don’t just get to look at the instruments, they’re allowed to hold and even try to play them. Banjo player Harmony Arendt told the Lexington Herald-Leader, “That’s how you carry on the musical story of bluegrass. If kids never get to try out new things, they’re never going to know about it.”
The group includes the four Arendt sisters – in addition to Harmony, there are Leslie, Gemma, and Rue – as well as their mother, Lorie. The sisters have backgrounds in classical music, but have been playing together as a bluegrass band for about four years, since a neighbor began sharing bluegrass CDs with the sisters, and gave them a banjo. Now, they’re fully converted to the bluegrass sound and on a mission to share it with as many folks as they can.
While the band mostly performs locally, they’ve still got a few stops left on their library tour. If you’re in the area, grab your kids and head on out!
For more information on Lafferty Pike’s library tour and other performances, visit their Facebook page.