Somehow or another, the Brooklyn native managed to latch onto a particular brand of music that originated far from the concrete and brick confines of Manhattan.
Richard Errico, who lives in SaddleBrooke, has become something of a local authority on bluegrass music. The mandolin player even “jams” once a month or so with other members of the Tucson-based Desert Bluegrass Association.
Errico, and fellow SaddleBrooke resident and bluegrass aficionado Bill Trapp, met over coffee and brownies at Ted Hariton’s house recently this winter not only to discuss the hillbilly sounds of banjos and mandolins and fiddles, but also to pump up a March concert at the neighborhood’s Desert View Performing Arts Center.
The March 6 show features none other than Cherryholmes, the six-piece family band these days referred to as “America’s new first family of bluegrass music.”
To the unacquainted, bluegrass entered popular culture in the 1940s with the likes of pioneer Bill Monroe and his disciples, who wailed away with that “high lonesome sound” to a backdrop of picking and strumming.
The typical bluegrass band consists of mandolin, guitar, banjo, fiddle and upright bass.
Cherryholmes, while quite expert at producing that classic bluegrass sound, represents a more modern approach to the music that has its roots in Irish, Scottish and English traditional music. Frequently, during the group’s shows, the family forms a line and clogs away.
“These people are all over the stage,” Bill Trapp said.
Trapp, an Illinois native, made a compelling argument for why the Grammy-nominated Cherryholmes would classify as the finest bluegrass outfit playing stages today.
Errico agreed that the group is one of the greats, but, he added some undiscovered musicians playing at jams throughout the country might be even better.
See, it’s sort of an organic art form, Errico explained. No doubt it’s a genre much older than its mid-1940s emergence with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.
Monroe is largely credited with popularizing bluegrass’ “hard-driving sound,” Errico said. But its roots run back centuries, all the way back, probably, to the British Isles.
With Scots, Irish and English immigrants, the music found new influences in America. Coupled with jazz and blues, it’s unique to this country, Errico said.
But, groups like Cherryholmes — dad Jere on bass, mom Sandy Lee on mandolin, daughters Cia Leigh on banjo and Molly Kate on fiddle, and sons B.J. on fiddle and Skip on guitar — have brought younger members into the bluegrass fold, according to Trapp.
Both men hope to sell out the March 6 SaddleBrooke show.
The Desert Bluegrass Association, which sponsors various jams throughout the area, and a festival every year, could use the financial support, Errico said.
Due to the economic downturn, grants the group usually counts on to produce programs have started to dry up.
Bluegrass has developed quite the following in the Northwest and in SaddleBrooke, Trapp added.
Many folks have started attending the Dove Mountain bluegrass jams, the most recent of which took place Jan. 18.
But, Errico and the SaddleBrooke pickers and grinners are busily gearing up for and getting the word out about the Cherryholmes show.
Heck, one could make an evening of it, Hariton suggested. Catch the early show and grab dinner afterwards, or come early and eat beforehand, at the Palo Verde Room or The Preserve restaurants.
The show should keep folks’ feet a-tapping, the men said.
EVENING OF BLUEGRASS
WHO: Cherryholmes, America’s new first family of bluegrass music
WHEN: 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 6
WHERE: Desert View Performing Arts Center, 39900 Clubhouse Drive
COST: $30 in advance; proceeds will benefit the SaddleBrooke Theatre Guild and the Desert Bluegrass Association; seating is limited.
CONTACT: 825-2818; dvpac.net
A version of this story appeared in the Dec. 31 SaddleBrooke Explorer.