Music News

Bluegrass band Cherryholmes courts country favor

NASHVILLE (Billboard) - Family bluegrass band Cherryholmes is pulling out all the stops this fall with a new album, documentary, symphony dates and its first attempt to cross over to country radio.

It’s an ambitious agenda, but not a surprising one for a group that has quickly become one of bluegrass’ most successful outfits. First on the list is “Cherryholmes III: Don’t Believe,” due September 30 via Skaggs Family Records. It’s the follow-up to 2007’s “Cherryholmes II: Black & White,” which has sold 22,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

“The biggest thing I observed with this one is the ability of the kids to write at a more mature level and to find the link between lyric and music,” patriarch Jere Cherryholmes says of making the album with his wife, Sandy, and their children -- Molly, 16; Skip, 18; B.J., 20; and Cia Leigh, 24.

One of the cuts from “Cherryholmes III” generating the strongest reaction is “This Is My Son,” a song Cia wrote after talking to a Knoxville, Tennessee, DJ whose son was heading to Iraq. The song is being remixed with piano and drums and will be the first Cherryholmes single promoted to country radio.

“We’ve always had an affinity for country music since we moved to Nashville and realized the roots of bluegrass and country were so closely linked,” Cherryholmes says. “I feel the message in ‘This Is My Son’ is certainly timely and needs more widespread exposure.”

Each band member has a turn in the spotlight on “Cherryholmes III.” Sandy sings lead on “King as a Babe Comes Down,” while Molly makes her solo vocal debut on the self-penned “Goodbye.” Skip’s guitar work fuels “Don’t Believe,” and B.J.’s mandolin is integral to the collection. “Because we have a group that’s not built around one central personality,” Cherryholmes says, “we have so much variety and so many different angles to attack the music from.”

The band’s musicianship and family dynamic are explored in a TV documentary; a network and airdate have not yet been chosen for the film.

Cherryholmes has branched out in other ways this past year, playing dates on the performing arts center/theater circuit for audiences that may have never before been to a bluegrass show.

The venture has been so successful that the band plans to take it a step further next year. In January, Cherryholmes will be backed by a full symphony at a show in Portland, Oregon, and five other such gigs are in the offing for later in 2009.