by Dan Schram
Kickin Grass, this is your life: Saturday night in Durham, Kickin Grass celebrated 10 years together in front of a large crowd and in the elegant and recently refurbished Carolina Theatre. That’s a long way from the band’s humble beginnings as a backing band for The Apple Chill Cloggers, though Kickin Grass did a fine job of making their timeline’s ends meet.
The evening served as a reflection on the group’s many miles spent on the road, albums released and members who have come and gone. Many stories were told, from early jam sessions taking place in an old school bus on 13 acres of property in Harnett County to realizing a potential new member was perfect based on an observation related to eating moose tongue.
Oh, there was music, too. Kickin Grass carefully selected songs from each of its three albums, as well as several from an untitled future release. In continuing with the group’s congenial family atmosphere, the band brought back several former members to take place in the celebration. Ben Walters, Kyra Moore and Matt Hooper all sat in with their old friends. What’s more, The Apple Chill Cloggers joined on several numbers as Kickin Grass provided accompaniment, just as they had when the band first began.
Toward the end of the nearly two-hour show, the band took a moment to reflect on a difficult past few years. All members, past and present, joined together in an original gospel number, “The Morning Train.” The pretty hymn was dedicated to the memory of Scott Dawson (the brother of mandolin player Jamie Dawson), plus Jay T. Mullins (father of long-time band supporter Jeff Mullins) and Ristin Cooks (wife of Bassist Patrick Walsh).
The entire show was recorded for a future release, but the band graciously allowed the posting of “The Morning Train” as a dedication to their lost love ones.