We got a note from the Grass Cats' Russell Johnson last week, announcing a new band with a disclaimer that he is still playing with the "Cats". Here is what Russ had to say:
"Several folks have asked me about Diamond Creek and how it's different from The Grass Cats. First off, let me say I'm still playing with The Grass Cats and 2015 has been a great year. With Diamond Creek I get to play music with my wife Kandis and my cousin Spencer Mobley. Diamond Creek features the singing and songwriting of Emily Kirsch. Emily is one of my former students and I have seen her really come into her own these past couple of years. The band also reunites me with my old friend and New Vintage alumnus, Julie Elkins. "
It may be the picking, the singing, the songs or sometimes a combination of all of these, but something is different. Meet Diamond Creek; the Small Town band with a Big Time sound.
A relatively new group from the fertile bluegrass scene around central North Carolina, Diamond Creek is a combination of old and new, in both their members and music.
Their sound is best described as "distinctive, modern yet traditionally rooted bluegrass music" with a freshness and energy that translates to their songs, arrangements and performances.
Made up of seasoned veterans and some new faces, Diamond Creek's six musicians really believe in what they are playing. They are creating music with an authentic energy, rooted in tradition but willing to look forward in the genre.
A lot of this spirit and energy is created from the vocals of nineteen year old Emily Kirsch. Singing with confidence and conviction well beyond her years - she makes any song her own with her powerful delivery.
At twenty four, self-professed “journeyman” guitarist Spencer Mobley has worked with and filled in with bands on mandolin and guitar at a local and regional level for several years.
Banjo stylist Julie Elkins has decades of performing and recording experience and along with the fiddling of Matt Hooper they create the exciting instrumental fireworks in a Diamond Creek show.
Completing the band is husband and wife Russell and Kandis Johnson. Russell is an old hand at the music having played mandolin the last twenty-six years, first with New Vintage and with his current band The Grass Cats. His wife Kandis started on the upright bass in 2001 and has played and filled in with bands for several years.
Diamond Creek is a band to listen for. Their approach to entertaining is fresh and there is an energy in their live shows and recordings. Formed from a weekly jam session that started in 2007, they started performing publically in January of 2013. Later that year they went on to win the prestigious "Got to be NC" Bluegrass Band competition. Though it's a second band for most of the members it’s a home for them to come back to play the traditional bluegrass they love and create new exciting music.
|Featuring a mix of originals and modern interpretations of golden-era bluegrass and country favorites, the CD highlights the incomparable singing and compelling songwriting of newcomer Emily Kirsch. Emily delivers her originals Where Do I Go From Here and No Good Heartbreak Blues with a confidence and conviction well beyond her twenty years. She can also make any song her own; just listen to her powerful delivery on Folsom Prison Blues and her heartfelt interpretation of the gospel classic Working On A Building.|| |
Long-time veteran of the national bluegrass scene and the band's mandolinist, Russell Johnson (New Vintage, Grass Cats), recorded and produced the ten-song disc and also contributes lead and harmony vocals. His original Now We All Know is best described as pure "high-lonesome" bluegrass.
Guitarist Spencer Mobley and bassist Kandis Johnson round out the Diamond Creek rhythm section and contribute lead and harmonies as well.
Banjo stylist Julie Elkins (New Vintage, Kane's River) is a fundamental part of the Diamond Creek instrumental sound. Julie also lends her soulful voice to the Stanley Brothers' She's More To Be Pitied Than Scolded.
Matt Hooper's playing is as good as bluegrass fiddle gets and he also adds bass vocals on the quartets. As a "first-call" fiddler throughout the southeast, Matt has toured with Kickin' Grass and Don Rigsby & The Midnight Call.