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Grass grows blue at Southside

By Staff
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
By the hundreds, area residents turned out at Southside High School on Friday night to kick up their heels with the Kickin’ Grass Band.
Wanda Johnson, executive director of the Beaufort County Arts Council and event organizer, said after the concert she was pleased with the turnout. The concert was one installment in a series the Arts Council is putting on at different locations throughout the county.
Joey Toler, a member of the Arts Council’s board of directors had a hand in choosing the band.
The five-member band from Raleigh mixes the traditional style of blue grass music with an upbeat, contemporary flavor — a style the band’s female member, Lynda Dawson, said deviates from the “hard core traditional.”
The band features Dawson on guitar and vocals, Jamie Dawson on mandolin and vocals, Patrick Walsh on bass and vocals, Ben Walters on banjo and vocals and Matt Hooper on fiddle.
Kickin’ Grass writes most of its own songs, Dawson said in an interview Friday. Her husband, Jamie, performed a song called “Left this Town,” which he wrote about moving from Angier in Harnett County to the state’s capital.
Lynda Dawson, was recognized at a national bluegrass convention in Nashville, Tenn., last year for a song she wrote called “Ain’t Got Nothing.”
Though the band plays countless shows every year, being a musician doesn’t pay the bills, Jamie Dawson said.
Ann Banks, president of the Eastern North Carolina Bluegrass association — who had driven from New Bern for the performance — said that, however played, bluegrass is a style close to the heart of this country.
Bluegrass was also a way in which local history was kept alive, and that’s important for young people to appreciate, Banks said. Her grandson, who is now eight years old, has been traveling with Banks and her husband for the past five years and is learning how to play the mandolin.
The next installment of the arts-council series will be at the Washington Civic Center on March 30 when the Appalachian Roads will perform. All concerts in the series are free and open to the public.