Meet the Ash Breeze Band

Music fans will be treated to a double scoop of entertainment Friday.

So pack a blanket and a picnic dinner, and enjoy an evening of young performers outside in the Page-Walker Arts and History Center garden.

First, students from Bluegrass Camps sponsored by PineCone and the Town of Cary will show off their skills at 6 p.m. The Ash Breeze Band will follow at 7 p.m., part of the Town of Cary’s Starlight Concert Series.

Fiddle-player Nellie Smith, 18, says she and her brothers are looking forward to playing in Cary.

The Ash Breeze Band, known for its tight, family harmonies, will stay close to its traditional roots, she says, but the audience should expect more than bluegrass or gospel.

“We like to play as many types of music in this genre as we can, but we have had to change,” she said. “Our guitar player has not been in the band as much, so we’ve had to work up songs without him. Not having a guitar, definitely changes our sound and makes it sound more folky.”

The band’s guitarist, Corey, 21, has been occupied with his college graduation and a new job, but he will return for one set. Mandolin player Eli, 15, will sing harmony to Nellie’s soulful vocals, and 12-year-old David will perform on Dobro. Luke, 16, on banjo and dad Allen on bass complete the roster.

Nellie says playing music with family means it’s easy to schedule practices. Everyone in the band still lives at home in Fayetteville, NC.

“It’s cool to have a family band. We’ve always been close,” said Nellie. “When we’re in band practice, I’ll say, ‘That sounds horrible,’ and I probably wouldn’t say that to anyone else. We love each other, but we’re very honest with each other.”

The Smith siblings are classically trained musicians, and switched to bluegrass music in 2010. Among their career highlights was an appearance as a 2015 International Bluegrass Music Association Festival showcase band.

“IBMA is like a family reunion where you see everyone; everyone in the bluegrass world is going to be there,” Nellie said of the event.

“It opened us up to different audiences that we probably never would have reached. But the biggest thrill of playing there was being able to see our friends, encourage them and having them encourage us. It was really special.”

The performance Friday will include material from their most recent album, 2015’s “The Road’s Not Easy,” as well as new material.

“We’re going to be playing a lot of songs this weekend, so we pretty much have to do everything,” she said. “It’ll be a lot of fun.”

When they head back to the Triangle, Nellie has a feeling what will be on the CD player. Since her father will be driving, he will be in control of the tunes.

“If it were up to my Dad, we would be listening to our album. But we don’t like listening to ourselves,” she said. “So, we’ll probably be listening to James Taylor.”

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