When Cornfields and Crossroads takes the stage, it’s not just bluegrass that they’re focused on.
Members spin in aspects of country and rock, bringing in influences from classical music and old-time gospel as well. Touches of Elvis Presley are just as evident as twangy legends such as Bill Monroe.
The band doesn’t like to be categorized as simply a bluegrass band. With its members having experience in many kinds of music, the sound that comes out is unique yet familiar to fans of the genre.
Cornfields and Crossroads bring its eclectic show to Franklin for the inaugural Beer and Bluegrass Festival on Aug. 24.
“We try to put more drive in our music than the older style. That’s probably the only thing we change,” guitarist and vocalist Mark Graham said.
The strength of the band comes from its members’ unique background with bluegrass music.
Banjo player Dan Wethington learned the instrument and the genre from his father. Bass player Joseph Flowers was originally an orchestral musician, playing classical in high school and studying the tuba in college.
A longtime admirer of gospel and its bluegrass roots, Darrell Duety has played the mandolin since he was 14.
And Graham picked up the music after moving to the West Coast in 1989.
“It’s a music that just about every age can like. That’s what drew me to it,” Graham said.
Cornfields and Crossroads plays a mix of original compositions and cover songs. The sounds can stretch from the more contemporary picking in “I Can’t Get You Off of My Mind” to the old-timey thump of “Tennessee 1949.”
The band will perform from
5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 24 on Franklin’s downtown square. Admission to the concert is free and open the public.
A special beer tasting event is also available for those 21 and over.
Tickets for the tasting are $15 in advance or $20 the day of the festival.
What led you into
Dan, his dad was a banjo player. Our bass player, he plays a little bit of everything; he was in his high school orchestra, went to college to play music and was a tuba player. How he came up to be a stand-up bass player in a bluegrass band, I don’t know. His dad was into a lot of old-time country and bluegrass. Daryl, I don’t know, he’s been in a few different bands. I started playing bluegrass in the late ’80s when I moved out to the West Coast. I grew up in Indiana and Kentucky and moved out west and started playing bluegrass. I’ve been doing it now since about 1988.
What was it about the music that struck a chord with you?
The family orientation of it. I went to a bluegrass jam, and it was a lot of families. A lot of good people. The bluegrass community, no matter where you go in the country, is all about like a family. I’d travel up and down the West Coast with my kids, and they enjoyed the music and the community, too.
What kind of spin do you try to take on bluegrass?
We kind of mix it up. Dan is a very traditional player, and I like traditional; but I also like to bring it into more modern traditions. I love Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs. I love their music, but I like to bring in new elements to it. Make it more of an uptempo sound than what they were going for. I don’t like to change a lot, either.
What influences does your band draw from?
I kind of draw from country music, even taking some Elvis Presley and bringing it to bluegrass. There’s orchestra and choir, and traditional bluegrass. Some of us grew up in church playing, and I came from earlier rock ’n’ roll and country.
— Ryan Trares