Southern Raised: My Favorite Bluegrass Group
It's going to be a great summer!
Earlier this year, before the season even began, I saw a list of acts and groups that would be coming to Silver Dollar City this year. I learned of the new show, Rueben's Swashbuckling Adventure; I learned of the plan to hold the Bluegrass acts in Echo Hollow; and I learned of other acts that would be performing here this year, acts such as Kid Magic, the Lumberjack show that will be here in the fall, and the brand new Pumpkin Nights which will be sharing the park during our annual Craft Festival. But, nothing excited me more than learning that Southern Raised would be performing four shows a day at the Gazebo for ten weeks during the months of late May through mid-August. How lucky can a person be?
I first saw Southern Raised in 2017, performing at the Gazebo for a few days during our summer festival. I thoroughly enjoyed their blend of Christian and Bluegrass, their wonderful harmonies and their instrumental talents. One song of theirs that stuck with me that first performance was their incredible arrangement of the classic "Fiddler's National Anthem," the Orange Blossom Special. Every person worthy of being called a fiddler has played this song, along with some who weren't. Most play it straight, as it was written (at least for the most part). Some, such as Micheal Cleveland, speed it up and embellish it to a point where it takes on a new persona, one almost not recognizable as being what it was written to be.
And then along comes Southern Raised, doing something I had never heard before and still haven't heard anywhere else. You see, they were originally trained as classical musicians and, by creating their own arrangement incorporating their previous training, they have managed to produce something truly remarkable, something original, yet familiar. It is truly spectacular! By blending the original song and snippets of Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Aaron Copeland's Rodeo: Hoedown, and Rossini's William Tell Overture, they bridged the gap between multiple genres of music, blending them all into one flawless composition which is unlike anything I have ever heard.
I was amazed.
Later that year they appeared once more during our Southern Gospel Festival, and again during the Cowboys and Craft Festival. Each time I was able to listen to them play and sing, I realized just how talented this family of siblings truly was. Eldest sister Lyndsay on bass but was also trained on violin and piano; middle sister Sarah plays the banjo and dojo and is also trained on violin and piano; youngest sister Emily Grace plays mandolin and fiddle/violin (sometimes in the same song) and is also trained on piano while brother Matthew is amazing on the guitar while he is also fully trained on the cello. They alternate effortlessly between Christian and Bluegrass, often intertwining the two along with a bit of their Classical upbringing for good measure.
Crowds love them and come repeatedly to see them, show after show. Last year they appeared a couple of times here, and again people came to several shows a day just to hear them sing and play. They write some of their own music, which as I've stated before is the sign of truly gifted artists to me, and they adapt or arrange other songs to suit their needs, thus creating another avenue for people to enjoy them. They have traveled the country, including Canada sharing their love of our Lord and music with untold numbers of fans, all the while returning the gift of friendship to those who follow them.
As I stated earlier, we are lucky to have them with us this summer, four shows a day, six days a week for a total of 240 possible shows (excluding weather related issues) for both the park patrons to enjoy and those of us fortunate enough to work here. So long as foul weather does not intrude, they will be playing on the square daily for all to hear. And people come, oh do they come. One day the weather was bad, but not bad enough to halt the show. It was a miserable day full of rain but no lightning and as the old saying goes, the show must go on. And it did, even though no one was there on the square but the sound man Nate and myself to hear them play. But literally within seconds of beginning to play for an empty house, people began to appear as if by magic, from nowhere. By ones and twos and threes, people came through the rain, sat down on the wet seats and listened to them playing their songs until there was some thirty-odd people in the audience. In the middle of a rainstorm, people sat and listened to this family play; unbelievable. And yet, they are just that good.
I think that one of the things I like most about them, aside from their talent and personalities, is that the songs they sing are filled with hope, love, and an old fashioned patriotism that many people have forgotten about. Songs such as American Made, Southern Raised tell of a simpler time that is not out of our reach if we but extend our hands and hearts towards it, take the time to make it happen. Things like sweet tea, Moon Pies and R.C. Cola, and magnolia blossoms paint a picture as vivid as Van Gogh or Da Vinci could ever produce.
Another song, Letting Go tells of our daily struggle to comprehend our life, our striving to make sense of it, control it yet if we but place it in our Father's hands, trust Him to do what is needed we will be far better off. Still another is a song entitled Back To The Front Porch which gives the listener a chance to relive the times spent on their grandparent's front porch, or perhaps their own porch they enjoyed as a child. Again, the melody is gentle and easy to listen to while the words paint a picture of a time we all miss as adults.
And then there are the compositions and arrangements of songs never intended to be what they have been adapted to become. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony interwoven with their song Journey On is a beautiful composition of the two, one that is sure to lift the heart of anyone hearing it.
Whether it be an instrumental such as Ashokan Farewell, or a previously released song by another artist such as James Taylor's You've Got A Friend, or an original composition such as American Made, Southern Raised their music is singularly original and fresh, filled with the best things in life, supremely positive at a time when we need something positive in our lives.
And that, in part, is why Southern Raised has become my favorite group. They have incredible voices, are tremendously talented, are as humble as can be without a vain or egocentric bone in their bodies, and enjoy what they do to the fullest and it shows.
In addition to their music they create and produce hand-made leather works and jewelry one may purchase; they are lyricists, directors of videos, authors of books and in their spare time, some even garden and read. Talents they have, many and varied and more than I have witnessed in any one person before.
Each day, I sit and listen to them play if I am able, if no one needs me to assist in another venue or carry something thither and yon, or if no guest has an issue I need to rectify for them. I listen, and enjoy. Their music lifts the soul to a place we all need to visit once in a while, one that is filled with happiness and peace, love for their fellow man and for our Lord. Let them carry you away for a bit, lift you heart and soul up, and ease your troubles for while. I think you just might be better for it.
"Letting Go" is their current single
Southern Raised's current single on the charts is Letting Go. It is a wonderful song filled with meaning and beautifully written and performed, and I hope you listened to it in the video just above. If you didn't, you need to go back and give a listen for it just hit #1 on the Singing News Bluegrass charts. The band learned that on Monday and let me know when they returned to the park Tuesday. This marks their third #1 hit, all of which were co-written by the band. As I have stated more than once, writing your own songs and performing them is the mark of a truly talented band, and this just proves my thought. Congratulations guys! You deserve it!
Additionally, I want to congratulate you on your twelve years of performing Bluegrass/Christian music effective June 2nd. You took a chance and it has paid off. Well done!
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