In the midst of a tour that’s taken them to Canada for the first time, the young performers of The Burie Family bring their energetic bluegrass and gospel sound to Elmira Sunday evening. They’ll be in Gore Park, part of the summer concert series.
The family band from southeast Wisconsin shares gospel bluegrass music from a Christ-centered, family foundation.Ranging in age from 13 to 19, the five members of the band have been making a name for themselves, both at home and farther afield. The Burie Family garnered a 2011 Wisconsin Area Music Industry (WAMI) Bluegrass Band of the Year nomination and Christian/Gospel Artist of the Year in 2012.
Performing publically for the last four years, the kids have become favourites on the bluegrass festival circuit, covering increasingly more ground. It’s what’s brought them into Ontario, having played last week at the River Valley Bluegrass Jamboree up in West Nippising before taking the stage at the Holstein Bluegrass Celebration this weekend. Being so close to Elmira made a concert series appearance a good fit, said dad John Burie from a stop in Sturgeon Falls.
“This is our first foray out of the country, and the experience has been great.”
Both Burie and his wife Tiffany grew up with music – he an avid high school musician, Tiffany a singer – so musical education was an important part of the curriculum when the couple decided to home-school their children.
Early performances had the kids singing in four-part harmony at nursing homes and retirement communities. After attending a bluegrass festival, the kids decided that’s what they wanted to do.
“It’s just kind of grown of its own volition,” laughed Burie.
Each gravitated to a different instrument: 19-year-old Bethany on guitar, Rebekah, 17, on fiddle, Joe, 15, on the upright bass and Nathaniel, 13, on mandolin. They’ve been joined by Neil Greenwald, 18, on banjo and dobro to round-out the five-piece act, though mom joins the kids in some of their signature harmony vocals.
The Burie Family is influenced by the traditional bluegrass and old-time music of the Carter Family, the Stanley Brothers, Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and many others, as well as the harmonies of contemporary artists from The Isaacs to Blue Highway.
The bluegrass and gospel sounds are something that come naturally. As well, the kids have been exposed to classical music.
“It’s something that I was raised with. We’ve always had that in the home,” said Burie.
The kids, having taken up the mantle with gusto, enjoy the music and the joy that it brings to audiences. Performing music specifically chosen to uplift and encourage others, it is their hope that they leave their audiences with smiles on their faces and songs in their hearts, he added.
“It’s just been a great outlet for them to share the gifts and talents they’ve been given with others.”
If you make you way over to Gore Park for the show – and many people have been doing just that this summer – you can expect to hear a good mixture of classic bluegrass instrumentals and newer, contemporary songs.
“People see it as a relaxing and uplifting show,” said Burie.
The Burie Family performs at the bandstand Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. The concert series starts winding down over the next few weeks. The final three shows are Aug. 19, Paul Weber Family Band; Aug. 26, Doug DeBoer & Hard Ryde; and Sept. 2, Harold MacIntyre. All concerts in the series are free of charge