Hazing at MerleFest

Article Published: Apr. 26, 2012 | Modified: Apr. 30, 2012
Hazing at MerleFest

Raleigh’s The Kickin Grass Band, a mainstay of the Research Triangle bluegrass scene for the past decade, will make its MerleFest debut this weekend.
Photo courtesy of F-stop Groove

There’s a certain amount of “dues paying” for bands playing at MerleFest for the first time.

Newcomers often find themselves playing on some of the harder-to-find stages, taking part in workshops and fan “meet and greet” events, and playing early morning shows.

But if you ask bands if this MerleFest hazing is worth it, you will most likely hear an enthusiastic “Heck yeah!” in response. After all, do you think The Avett Brothers would be a nationally beloved act without the exposure that their first MerleFest weekend gave them?

One of the MerleFest newbies that will be paying some dues this weekend is The Kickin Grass Band out of Raleigh. While Doc Watson and Los Lobos will be setting up camp on the main stage, The Kickin Grass Band will perform six out of its seven stage performance at the Welcome Stage, serenading folks as they file into Wilkes Community College.

Hopefully, those throngs filing past the Welcome Stage will keep their ears open, for The Kickin’ Grass Band features five stellar musicians and one of the finer songwriters in bluegrass today.

Lynda Dawson – lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for The Kickin Grass Band – has a singular voice and a nifty way with words. Whether she is singing about ghosts, trouble, loving her hometown or wanting to run away from her hometown, she always manages to avoid clichés and yet find something universal to say in the process.

Not that Dawson’s is the only voice in the band. During The Kickin Grass Band’s raucous live shows, the entire band participates in stories and harmony vocals.

The band includes Jamie Dawson on mandolin and vocals, Pattie Hopkins on fiddle and vocals, Hank Smith on banjo and Patrick Walsh on bass.

So far, the band has three albums under its belt: “Backroads” (2003), “On the Short Rows” (2006) and “The Kickin Grass Band” (2008). Now on the Sugar Hill Records label, the band has recorded a new album that will be released this year.

The Kickin Grass Band will perform on MerleFest’s Welcome Stage on Thursday, April 26, at 1:30 p.m., on Friday, April 27, at 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., on Saturday, April 28, at 9:15 a.m. and 1 p.m., and on Sunday, April 29, at 10 a.m. They will also perform at the Plaza Stage on Sunday at 1:45 p.m.

For more information, visit http://www.merlefest.org.

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