Whether or not you’ve ever heard the Crossroad Singers in Sanctuary Worship, their upcoming concert, set for June 2 at 4:00 pm in the family-friendly and convivial atmosphere of Wesley Hall will offer up a combination of bluegrass to 60s folk music to religious favorites. This group, who always promises a toe-tapping good time, will conclude their performance with a couple of singalongs of songs you probably know — whether you realize you know them or not.
“I think what’s in this concert for people is a really good time,” says Dr. David Grant, one of the group’s original members. “We really enjoy what we do, and a lot of our music is just plain fun. Then the religious music we do, some of which we have performed in the Sanctuary during worship, is very powerful, I think.”
Grant says he believes that both folk and bluegrass music have a universal appeal. “While some people may think of it as, you know, “low-brow” music, it always seems to hit a cord that they have inside of them,” he explains. “It always evokes some kind of an emotion.” Grant says that it’s fun to watch people hearing Bluegrass for the first time. “They listen and respond in a variety of ways,” he adds, “sometimes in ways that surprise them.”
“I think one of the great things about music is that the different styles, from classical to folk to jazz to pop to rap, provide us with an amazing plethora of expression of how this deep sense of song we have as human beings can be articulated in so many different ways.”
So what kind of person is drawn to this style of music?
“All kinds of people,” exclaims Grant. “The classic folk music from the ’60s has great lyrics, great melodies, and great harmonies. Bluegrass is just, you know, music from the heart of America.”
Grant says that while people tend to think of bluegrass as music from the hills of Appalachia, and of course that’s its roots, it’s really a very uniquely American style of music.
“It’s had tremendous influence in country music, and it’s really interesting to me that people of all kinds are attracted to bluegrass,” he adds. “Steve Martin, the comedian, cut his teeth learning to play bluegrass banjo and still plays unbelievably well — and still plays with a bluegrass band called the Steep Canyon Rangers that also sometimes includes fellow comedian Martin Short.” (If you’re curious, click here to listen to the Steep Canyon Rangers’ Grammy Winning recording.)
And as for folk music, Grant says, it’s folk music, meaning “music of the people.” Grant adds that lot of the older folk music doesn’t even have a composer, “we don’t know who composed it because it was passed down through generations — it’s been around for that long.”
Grant goes on to explain that although contemporary or modern folk music is composed, it still has the same kind of feeling and genre that you find in classic bluegrass music. He then tells the story of John, and his son Alan, Lomax who, back in the ’30s, and ‘40s went around collecting songs using a big old recorder that they lugged into the Appalachian region to record some of these classic songs that became the birth of country music.
The Legacy Continues
The Crossroad Singers, formed in 1997, have been playing and singing together for 22 years this year. Although the personnel has changed slightly over the years, three of its original members, Grant, Kent Kilbourne, and Trish Hill remain. Previously the group included the late Richard Loughridge, Wesley Smith, and several others who have come and gone. As a band they have covered a wide variety of music, especially Peter Paul & Mary, The New Christy Minstrels and, back in its earlier days, The Kingston Trio.“We just love to sing together,” Grant says with a smile. “We enjoy being together, playing together. We keep doing it because we love it.” Today, in addition to Grant, Hill and Kilbourne, the group is seven strong, now including Justin Holt, Ron White, Tracey Smith, and Jeff Siewert, who plays bass.
If you’ve never heard the Crossroad Singers — or if you’ve only heard their Sanctuary performances — this concert offers opportunity to see a side of this lively group that will bring a smile to your face, a tap to your toe, and a deep sense of joy to your heart. Join us for this delightful blend of music and special camaraderie that celebrates the roots of American music.