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For Kenny and Amanda Smith, always is never enough

By David McPherson, September 2005

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"Gulf Stream Dreaming" is one of Amanda's favorite songs on the new disc while she says that "Dig a Little Deeper" was one of the "funnest songs" to record. "It's just one of those songs that you always hear and say: 'I wish I could get hold of a song like that and get to record it,'" she says.

"Always Never Enough" continues the band's musical journey and raises the musical bar even higher for a band that's still in its infancy.

The group genesis occurred as an indirect result of a fateful meeting between Kenny and Amanda following a Lonesome River Band concert in West Virginia in 1995. At the time, Kenny was the band's guitarist, and Amanda was a fan.

The two met, shared a similar taste in faith and bluegrass, and the rest as they say is history. What followed was a marriage and from this union, the band was formed. The band's debut Slowly But Surely" (2001) was met with rave reviews. This was followed up with "House Down the Block" in 2003.

Kenny's history with bluegrass goes back to growing up in Nine Mile, Ind. where this old time music ran in his blood.

"My dad was a fiddler, and my grandpa was a fiddler, and music has been in my family for a long time," says Kenny, a two-time IBMA Guitarist of the Year. "I started when I was four, and my brother started when he was six, so I've always been around it. Nobody in our family made a profession out of it. It's just something they did."

Growing up in West Virginia, Amanda's discovery of bluegrass and her musical maturation took a little longer. "I didn't even own a bluegrass CD until I was out of high school," she says, describing her bluegrass epiphany. "This was not by choice, I was just never around it."

"Nobody played music in my family, but I always sang in church and stuff like that. Then, when I got into high school and I wanted to learn how to play guitar, I started going over to an auction house that had music every third Saturday of the month, which was pretty close to mom and dad's (house)...I heard some bluegrass, and they would have some CDs...some of the first CDs I heard were Alison (Krauss) and Rhonda (Vincent)...once I heard that stuff it interested me real quick and I went out and started buying CDs and going to festivals."

"It's funny because I always listened to old country and a lot of southern gospel, and when I first heard bluegrass, it was so different from those two genres that it didn't take long for me to fall in love with it."

Speaking of falling in love, one wonders what it's like for the bluegrass lovers to mix business with pleasure.

"We don't treat it as a business just because of the guys in the band...it's pretty much our family," Kenny says. "We have wanted to do this since we got married. It's just kind of a dream come true for us. It's a lot better being on the road together because before, when I was in the Lonesome River Band, we were apart a lot."

"It's nice to have each other to lean on for business decisions or things that come up on the road or just trying to deal with being away from home," adds Amanda.

While the band has started to garner a grassroots following and they now have the help of a record label behind them, the pair admit that making a living in the music business is still no easy road.

"It's really tough when you are kind of a new band," Amanda says. "It's getting easier for us each year, but it's still tough as far as gaining your fans and with promoters and stuff and trying to get them to believe in you and book you. We are heading in the right direction though." She adds that CD sales from the band's website are also a big help.

"In the winter months when we don't have many playing jobs, if it wasn't for our website we couldn't survive," Kenny adds. "It gets down to eating mayonnaise sandwiches."

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