IF YOU GO
■ What: Songs of the Fall with Gabriel Kelley and James Bradshaw.
■ When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22.
■ Where: The Camp House, 1427 Williams St.
■ Admission: $10.
■ Phone: 423-702-8081.
■ Website: www.thecamphouse.com.
Striking out on her own has been a hugely liberating experience for banjo player and singer/songwriter Cia Cherryholmes.
In May 2011, her family's bluegrass band, Cherryholmes, called it quits after a 12-year career that saw them touring for a million-plus miles, earned them five Grammy nominations and landed them on bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs' record label.
Growing up learning to play with the same people created an almost sixth sense among her sibling bandmates, Cherryholmes says, and she didn't expect to find that kind of musical chemistry again. Then, she met Stetson Adkisson.
They were introduced through a mutual friend who worked at Skaggs Family Records. They hit it off immediately, but it wasn't until both were working on a ranch in New Mexico that they discovered a musical compatibility.
Some guests at the ranch who were familiar with the Cherryholmes band asked Cia to play for them, and unsure of how well a solo banjo show would go over, she turned to Adkisson -- then a hobbyist musician -- for help.
"Stetson had his guitars with him, so I asked him, 'Why don't we work out at least enough songs for us to play for about 60 minutes for these people?'" she says. "We did, and from there, we thought, 'Wow, we ... sound pretty decent together,' so we took it from there."
Now married and recently relocated to Pagosa Springs, Colo., from Nashville, Adkisson and Cherryholmes are touring the country as a singer/songwriter duo under the name Songs of the Fall.
The Cherryholmes band closed out Chattanooga's 3 Sisters Festival in 2010. On Saturday, Feb. 22, Songs of the Fall will make its Scenic City debut at The Camp House.
Cherryholmes says playing with Adkisson has helped her to learn the value of co-writing her songs and unknotted her tight ties to bluegrass's apron strings. Instead of a repertoire consisting solely of lickety-split barnburners and waltzes, writing for Songs of the Fall has allowed the duo to slow things down and focus on creating more diverse, roots-inflected music that shines a spotlight on lyrics inspired by personal experiences.
Performing as a two-piece, she says, has shown her that, despite her concerns, she's still musically viable without her family.
"You can have that feeling that, 'Oh, if I'm not with my mom and dad, maybe I won't be able to do anything' or 'If I'm not with my brothers and sisters, I'm going to fail,'" Cherryholmes says. "Having a second chance to come back on my own two feet and do something that's my own creation has been rewarding."
Contact Casey Phillips at email@example.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.
Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...