Uwharrie Drive, a teenage bluegrass band from central North Carolina, has a new member. Malachi Freeman of Carthage, NC, joins the group on mandolin, replacing Ethan Davis.
Best known as fiddler, the sixteen year old took up the mandolin in 2020.
“I have been playing bluegrass for five years, but I only started mandolin at the beginning of the quarantine. I am 98% self-taught, for better or worse.”
His musical journey began when he was 11. “I took lessons from Matt (Hooper, fiddler with Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road) after I won a High Lonesome Strings scholarship.”
High Lonesome Strings is a bluegrass music association based out of the Greensboro area of North Carolina. A non-profit organization, it is dedicated to supporting those who want to discover and share bluegrass and other forms of traditional music.
“Malachi Freeman is a throwback, an old person in a young body… a natural. We are so excited for his future with Uwharrie Drive. This young man can go as far as he wants in bluegrass,” stated HLS member, Big T Lassiter.
Freeman elaborated. “I came to Matt to help me try to correct various bad habits that I had developed from self-teaching. He helped me get to the next level, and really helped me to start thinking like a musician.”
Hooper reflected on his young student: “Having taught and jammed with Malachi over the past few years, I can say that he will be an excellent addition to the group, and we should all look forward to what these young folks are bringing to the bluegrass table.”
Freeman also credited another well-known professional musician. “I have also had occasional lessons with Nathan Aldridge (fiddler with Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out).”
Freeman joins other Uwharrie Drive members Jake Goforth on guitar, Kayleigh Stills on fiddle, Noah Stills on banjo, and DJ Francis on bass. Individually, they have made great strides in playing acoustic music and now collectively, they are making a name for themselves in the bluegrass community. The band opened the show at the Camp Springs Bluegrass Festival on Saturday of Labor Day weekend 2020.
Goforth stressed, “Malachi is a great mandolin player and a great friend that I think will be a great addition to the band, and I look forward to playing with him. A strong mandolin chop is vital in a bluegrass band and Malachi has it.”
Freeman concluded. “I love playing with people my own age and creating a bluegrass family, but most of all, I love the drive that we create. I hope that when people hear us play they will be slapped in the face by the power and drive we strive for. Hopefully, it will be the best slap in the face they have ever received!”