Lela, Ray and Rainy are bluegrass trio Rainy and the Rattlesnakes. Photo by Kent Romney

Rainy and the Rattlesnakes open for John Reischman's Jaybirds

From traditional to original, John Reischman and the Jaybirds have a large repertoire of bluegrass music to their credit. The same is true of Rainy and the Rattlesnakes.

Mandolin player Reischman and his band — Greg Spatz on fiddle, Nick Hornbuckle on banjo, Trisha Gagnon on bass and Jim Nunally on guitar — have performed bluegrass and folk on the contemporary West Coast acoustic music scene for the past 15 years.

Fiddler Lela Miatke, 15, mandolin player Rainy Miatke, 13, and their father, guitarist Ray Miatke, have performed as Rainy and the Rattlesnakes since the girls were youngsters.

Denizens of Greensprings, the trio has two albums to its credit. "The Steps of Solarest," recorded in 2012, features Lela Miatke's title track, along with two other originals, a cover of Laurie Lewis' "Green Fields" and traditional bluegrass tunes. The second recording, "Black Mountain Mustang," was done in 2014. The title track was written by Lela and Rainy, along with seven others on the album. It also includes a cover of Reischman's "The Cypress Hills" and Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty."

Longtime acquaintances of Reischman's, Rainy and the Rattlesnakes hope to open the show with a mandolin duet featuring Rainy and Reischman, along with a couple of traditional tunes. Home-schooled, Rainy studied mandolin with Glenn Freese, and Lela studied fiddle with Duane Whitcomb of Creekside Strings. The girls attend summer music camps at Big Sur and Mount Shasta in California, playing alongside string players Darol Anger and Tristan and Tashina Clarridge of The Bee Eaters.

Reischman draws on the music of his favorite traditional bluegrass artists, he says during a telephone conversation from his home in New Westminster, B.C.

"I'm a big fan of Doc Watson," he says. "Bill Monroe, I like quite a bit. The Stanley Brothers, Jimmy Martin, all those guys. There's an old-time musician name Hobart Smith who I think is really great. He was a strong musician who played fiddle and banjo, and he was a great singer. He played some of the old-time fiddle tunes on piano, which you don't hear much."

Reischman and the Jaybirds will perform at 7 p.m. Friday, May 27, at First United Methodist Church, 175 N. Main St., Ashland. Rainy and the Rattlesnakes will open the show.

Tickets are $20 in advance and can be purchased at Hilltop Music or Music Coop in Ashland or by calling 541-552-1665. Tickets will be $25 at the door, $10 for kids 18 and younger. Doors open at 6.

Reischman and his Jaybirds now have six albums to their credit — and another is in the works. The newest release is an EP titled "On a Winter's Night."

"There are eight songs," Reischman says. "It's shorter than usual. It's seasonal, traditional songs from the Southern Appalachians of the United States that are associated with winter and Christmas. The music doesn't have anything to do with Santa Claus, but there are some gospel songs that talk about the birth of Jesus."

The music came out of the mountains of North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky, he says. The songs are gathered in a book by Ruth Crawford Seeger, stepmother to Pete Seeger and mother of Mike, Penny and Peggy Seeger. She collected the anthology from the Southern states; some of it came from a black tradition. It's called "American Folk Songs for Christmas."

"Her kids recorded some of the songs about 20 years ago," Reischman says. "My wife and I listen to it quite a bit, and I thought some of the tunes would be good for interpretation. So we chose the songs and arranged them in a way that put our own stamp on them."

Friday's show will include at least one song off the seasonal CD, along with songs Reischman and the Jaybirds have worked up and recorded recently.

"In the course of the show, everyone in the band is featured at least once, if not more. There will be features on fiddle and banjo because Greg and Nick are great players, and they write original material. Trisha and Jim sing leads on several songs, and we'll do some of my compositions that feature mandolin.

"The tempos throughout the show will vary. Along with fast and furious bluegrass, we play some slower ballads."

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