Cherryholmes Create a Symphony of Bluegrass
It's not often that a banjo is featured with a symphony orchestra. But if it can happen anywhere, Nashville is the place. And last week, for three consecutive nights, family bluegrass band Cherryholmes, banjo and other acoustic instruments in tow, were the special guests of the Nashville Symphony.
Roots music was the theme for the evening, and conductor Albert-George Schram followed it to the letter. The Nashville Symphony started the first half of the program with 'Symphonic Hoedown,' after which Schram commented, "This is a pretty hot little warm up band isn't it?"
He followed that selection with Czech and Slovakian folk dance music. George Enescu's 'Romanian Rhapsodies' was the highlight of the evening, evoking scenes of Gypsy caravans roaming through forest lanes. Thirteen year-old Jake Moore took to the stage to join Schram in a rendition of 'I Love This Land,' for which they received a standing ovation. The final presentation of the first half of the program honored the bluegrass music to come with the classic Osborne Brothers tune, 'Rocky Top.'
Cherryholmes seemed to feel right at home at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and the bluegrass instrumentation fit right into the stage already set by Schram and his orchestra. "It is an honor for us to come and play here for you," Jere Cherryholmes, the patriarch of the clan, told the audience. "We are so proud to be able to perform in Nashville with this Grammy-winning symphony orchestra."
In addition to Jere and wife Sandy , Cherryholmes include the couple's four children, daughters Cia and Molly, and sons BJ and Skip. Mom and the kids trade off on instruments, picking up everything from fiddle to banjo, guitar and mandolin during the course of the evening. The family band ran through audience-pleasers such as 'Brand New Heartache,' 'Don't Give Your Heart to a Knoxville Girl,' 'The Sailing Man,' 'Heat of the Morning' and 'Broken.' They included several songs from their new CD, including the new single, 'Live It.'
Following the lead of the gypsy music from the opening set, Cherryholmes performed 'Miner's Swing,' a song made famous by legendary guitarist Django Reinhardt. Never straying far from their roots, Cherryholmes paid homage to early bluegrass with the Flatt & Scruggs classic 'I'll Never Shed Another Tear.' They encored with an a capella version of the gospel tune 'Mary Don't You Weep.' The three nights of Cherryholmes and the Nashville Symphony proved that pairing the two can work, and work well.
Upcoming dates for Cherryholmes include Buffalo, N.Y. on Thursday (Apr. 22) and Fairfax, Va. on Saturday (Apr. 24).