Cherryholmes - An awesome bluegrass band
Cherryholmes -- More than just a family band
The Cherryholmes band is a group of gifted musicians, songwriters, and singers who also happen to be a nuclear family.
Organized by their mother as a homeschooling project, they grew into an award-winning bluegrass band. "Cherryholmes" is the family's last name.
The Cherryholmes band - 1999 to 2011
The family hasn't broken up, but the band did . . .
The Cherryholmes family announced in January of 2011 that the band would disband, allowing the individual members to chart their own professional paths.
Their final performance was
May 7, 2011, at Houstonfest
in Galax, Virginia.
The time that I saw Cherryholmes live
I don't remember the year.
An extremely cool friend of mine works at Citrus College and was able to score some tickets to the show they did there.
I've always liked bluegrass music, so I was expecting to have a good time. But I didn't know just how good they were going to be. They started the show with a couple instrumental numbers. I knew then that I was in for a treat. Just when I thought I knew exactly what they were -- a great instrumental band -- they started singing! I think the first voice I heard was Cia's. I was enthralled.
Over the course of the show they did great instrumentals, beautiful solo singing, gorgeous harmonies, a little folk dancing, and finally ended with a compelling a cappella vocal number.
An unforgettable evening! When the show was over, I joined the long line of people buying their CD. My kids had fallen asleep early on, and I thought they slept through the entire show, but JG told me later that he had awakened long enough to hear them and like them. He was eager to get familiar with their CD and continues to love bluegrass and country music.
Definitely a real band
They say that a lot of "family bands" in country music are mostly about cute children and kitsch. But Cherryholmes is definitely a real band.
Check them out playing Fire on the Mountain.
How the band got started
The catalyst for the Cherryholmes band was a family tragedy, the death of the eldest child in the family, Shelly Cherryholmes. In response to the loss of their daughter and sister, the family went on a road trip which included attending a bluegrass festival. They enjoyed the music, and when they got back home, Sandy Lee (the mom) decided that they would start playing bluegrass together as a family activity. Each member of the family was assigned an instrument, and they started learning the music and playing together, developing into virtuosic musicians.
Bell, California, the humble town where the Cherryholmes family lived and started their band.
The power of bluegrass
Here's something I have in common with the Cherryholmes family. They are not southerners. They live in Nashville now that they're celebrities, but they are originally from the Los Angeles area, about four miles from where I currently live*. They're a group of urban kids who fell in love with bluegrass music, just like me, just like my son. I can relate to them.
The power of bluegrass can even penetrate the urban jungle. Bluegrass music feels like an unvarnished expression from the soul, just like good gospel music or blues. The strongest human emotions – joy, grief, longing, devotion, hope – stripped down to their essence. Bluegrass can touch anyone's heart, even city kids from L. A.
*I wrote this article back when I lived in Lynwood, CA.
The father of the Cherryholmes family. Jere (pronounced "jerry") plays the upright bass. When I saw Cherryholmes live, Jere did much of the talking between songs, making the kind of lame jokes that we all expect our fathers to make.
Here's Jere singing lead on one of my favorite Cherryholmes songs, which he composed -- Red Satin Dress.
Sandy is the mother. She organized the band and is everybody's coach. She primarily plays mandolin.
Here Sandy has the lead on Workin' Girl Blues.
B. J. Cherryholmes
A masterful fiddler. He also plays a lot of mandolin.
Here he sings lead on Bleeding.
The guitarist for the band. Good with both picking and rhythm.
Here Skip sings Heat Of The Morning.
Another fiddling phenom. One of the sweetest moments of the Cherryholmes show I attended was Molly singing Sweet Hour of Prayer.
Here she sings lead on Goodbye.
Molly plays the fiddle left-handed. Because of that, she is able to share a mike with BJ, creating a mirror image similar to what John Lennon and Paul McCartney used to do in Beatles performances.
Here's a great clip of some twin fiddling from BJ and Molly on Orange Blossom Special.