If travel time to the subject matter is considered my biggest blogging difficulty then this is by far my easiest post to date. I only had to go to my neighbor’s house across the road to find the material.
Featured here are two bluegrass prodigies, Benjamin and Rachel Babick, ages 13 and 11 respectively. I am fortunate enough to have known both since they were born. However I have only been aware of their remarkable musical talents for a few years.
One day in early November 2014 (I think…maybe it was 2013 time flies) I was discussing the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend block party with their father, Randy. The block party tradition started a decade earlier when about four or five couples in the neighborhood got together on the night before Thanksgiving, threw seasoned turkeys wrapped in wet pillow cases and burlap sacks into a ten foot deep pit with burning mesquite coals at the bottom, covered the pit with a steel plate, then drank beer and wine for a few hours before retiring for the evening and retrieving their turkeys the following morning.
Over the years the party evolved to the point of over a hundred attendees and live bands for entertainment. It then devolved into “way too many people” including many who neither lived nearby nor knew anyone who did.
By the time of my conversation with Randy the get-together had been scaled back to more manageable levels. While discussing the musical act for the event I was informed that instead of a live professional band “the kids” would be playing bluegrass music with some of their friends.
“Oh, that will be great,” I remember thinking to myself. “Nothing like listening to screeching violin sounds emanating from a bunch of kids with fiddles and sticks.”
Fortunately I didn’t vocalize my opinion. As it turned out I would not have been more wrong.
For several weeks afterwards I would tell friends and neighbors who weren’t there and anyone else who would listen, “No, really. I’m being serious. I’m not saying they were good for a bunch of ten year olds, they were just good period. The music was great!”
In nearly every case the reaction was a either a smirk or look of unconcealed disbelief that said “You need to get out more often, Fillmore. How good can a bunch of ten year olds with fiddles and sticks possibly sound?”
Well as you can find out here, although they’re a few years older now, the answer is “damned good.” (And good enough to still be the featured acts at the annual Thanksgiving weekend block party.)
Benjamin and Rachel are the children of artistically talented parents. Their father Randy is an accomplished pianist and their mother Terri is a noted ceramic painter whose work has been featured in museum exhibitions (under the name Terri Ann Davis).
But it’s more than just a matter of inherited DNA. Talent is common, but disciplined talent is very rare. A combination of years of practice, great teachers and -of course- innate talent culminated in second place finishes in the mandolin and fiddle for brother and sister respectively at the Wickenburg Bluegrass festival this past November.
But enough rambling. Play the videos and hear for yourself. You’ll be glad to you did.