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Susan Williamson – Cherry Heads Unite

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Susan Williamson

A few of you may know what that means, but for the rest, Cherry Heads are followers of Blackstone Cherry, a southern rock band from rural Edmonton, KY.

A little history is in order. When Fred Young, from Edmonton auditioned for the role of the drummer in the Patsy Cline movie , Sweet Dreams, the audition manager told everyone else to go home. Fred had been playing drums for the Itchy Brothers Band with his brother Richard as guitarist and writer. Greg Martin, a cousin also played with the group. The band morphed into the Kentucky Headhunters, earning a Grammy in 1990. Doug Phelps rounds out the band.

Richard Young married his local sweetheart, Cindy Love, and they had a son, named John Fred Young after his uncle. Turns out the name wasn’t the only thing they had in common. John Fred and his middle school buddies began to play music in the “practice house” an old tenant house on the Young farm where the Itchy Brothers began. Since 2006, Blackstone Cherry with Young as the drummer, Chris Robertson lead guitar, Ben Wells guitar and John Lawhin playing bass has been performing all over the world.

Last night they performed in Hopewell at the Beacon Theater. They were fronted by two other rock bands: Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown. The first two bands were good, but Blackstone Cherry came on stage at 9:30 and rocked the stage with an incredible hour and a half long performance of southern rock and blues, many of the songs written by band members. There were no breaks, no time out to talk about a song, just pure energy including an incredible drum solo by John Fred.

I know all of this because Fred Young was a senior in high school and one of my husband’s high school students when we married. Fred and Richard’s father, James Howard Young, distant cousin of my husband introduced him to American Saddlebred horses. We attended Fred and Richard’s weddings, held in the yard of their family home, surrounded by family and friends and New York record producers.

Last night we drove to see the band. We had backstage passes courtesy of Richard Young and we were able to see John Fred before the show. This handsome and humble young man was gracious and thrilled to see us. I had last seen him as a young boy, my husband saw him three years ago at his grandfather’s funeral.

We had kept up with the band’s activities but never seen them in person. We are now officially Cherry Heads. Wow. The band is touring all over, leaving for Europe in July and already sold out at The Ramlin Man Music Festival in Kent, UK.

All of the band members look forward to returning home to south central Kentucky whenever they can. John Fred and his wife live in sight of the practice house on the Young farm. His father and uncle live nearby.

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