Hillbenders coming to Fur Peace

By Dean Wright - deanwright@aimmediamidwest.com

BEDFORD TOWNSHIP — The Hillbenders will bring their infusion of Americana, rock and bluegrass music to Fur Peace Ranch in Meigs County Saturday as part of the Fur Peace 2017 Concert Series.

The group is compromised of Jim Rea on guitar, Nolan Lawrence on mandolin, Mark Cassidy on banjo, Gary Rea on bass and Chad Graves on the dobro. The five will be be playing The Who’s “Tommy” as a tribute in as a bluegrass opry. The Hillbenders hail from Springfield, Missouri. The opry was produced by SXSW co-founder and producer Louis Jay Meyers.

In 2003, Tommy was ranked by Rolling Stone as the 96th out of 500 greatest albums of all time.

“It’s bluegrass meets rock and roll is what we’re doing out there,” said Jim Rea. “We’ve been together almost 1o years and done a lot of original stuff. Now for the past few year’s we’ve been doing The Who’s Tommy, the rock opera as a bluegrass opry.”

The group met Fur Peace Ranch’s Jorma Kaukonen during a festival in Michigan.

Tommy consists of around 26 songs total according to Jim, compromising the Tommy album.

“I think bluegrass fits a more folksy type of personality,” said Jim. “It’s a friendly and simple personality, the kind of people who just want to enjoy life.”

Jim said there was something about bluegrass that put the “bug” in you which caused you to want more of it. When Jim was traveling in his late teens, he and some friends came across a bluegrass festival.

“It showed me how far the music had come,” said Jim. “A lot of people think bluegrass is square dancing and banjos. It came from that and there is still plenty of it around. Like jazz and many other genres, it has grown into so many different fusion types of acts…I’m not particularly (sure about what draws the band to it) but we all just kind of got bit by the bluegrass bug.”

Jim said he felt people would continue to celebrate and play traditional bluegrass music but would also see more growth.

“It’s got that free thinking where people are going to continue to push the boundaries,” said Jim.

For more information, visit www.furpeaceranch.com or hillbenders.com.

Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright