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Cherryholmes put the icing on the bluegrass cake

Station Inn, Nashville, September 7, 2005

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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The Cherryholmes family look like they could be straight out of the Beverly Hillbillies. After all, Jere (pronounced Jerry) Cherryholmes has a long white beard, overalls and tattoos on his arms and looks like he came from the woods. But for however much he may look the part, Cherryholmes and his family band of his wife and four kids deserve heaps of praise for their excellent bluegrass music.

And while they did it live, they also have a helluva buzz going around them for a group that only has released a few albums on their own and took up bluegrass as therapy following the death of a family member..

Somehow, the California-born, Arizona-based group even captured a nomination for entertainer of the year from the International Bluegrass Music Association even though they their label debut (Skaggs Family) isn't out until the end of September.

Over the course of 2 sets and 2 1/2 hours, Cherryholmes underscored what the hoopla was about. They sure can play well. Sister Molly Kate Cherryholmes on fiddle is a real star and a very understated one at that. She was really the one who gave the group a leg up after being discovered by Rhonda Vincent's fiddle player, Hunter Berry, at a show in California. One thing led to another, and the Cherryholmes backed up Vincent on her recent live disc in St. Louis.

Katy does not have the stage presence down pat just yet, but give her time. She's only 13. Another former prodigy, Alison Krauss, has improved dramatically over the years.

Brothers B.J. on fiddle and Skip on mandolin and acoustic (he also sings) showed themselves to have musical mettle. A double fiddle attack worked quite well, especiallly on Bill Monroe's "Long Bow."

Sister Cia Leigh Cherryholmes is a real fine singer with a powerful. She has a lot of vocal presence and is a pleasure to listen to time and again ("Brand New Heartache" with backing vocals from B.J. and Sandy was indicative of her abilities).

The weakest link vocally is mother Sandy. Not bad, but it's awfully hard to stack up against the dominating vocals of her daughter. Sandy should stick to playing her instruments, something she does with much energy, and leave the vocals to others.

The show also possessed a lot of humor thanks mainly to Jere. He would tell good stories and joke around, sometimes a bit for too long, before getting back into the music. The patter offers a good contrast to the music.

It's a rarity to see such a band seemingly do so well in such a short amount of time. Whether on disc or in concert, Cherryholmes is a group that has it.