Band of Brothers

Inspired by a band of gypsies one Saturday night in November 2017, Web, Palmer, Hank and Barrett began talking about music with  their father, Will Blackmon, after watching a YouTube with bluegrass music. While their father wanted to get instruments for the boys at Christmas, Mom Melanie overruled, envisioning the noise that would ensue throughout the house.

Since the boys and the other children enjoyed the music so much, Mom gave in. At Christmas, there was a family gift for every- one to enjoy, including a banjo, guitar, small acoustic bass guitar, harmonicas and tambourines. It was an immediate hit and the beginning of a journey finding joy in music.

Web used his Christmas money that year to purchase a mandolin. While Hank claimed the guitar, Palmer was drawn to the bass. Soon afterward an upright base, fiddle, more guitars and a dulcimer were added to the instruments. In the beginning, they explored the various instruments and trading around instruments. A year later when their father was giving golf lessons to a musician and music teacher, Matt Holdren, he arranged for him to meet with the boys. Matt guided them on how to play songs as a group and sing. They learned how to perform, practice and work together as a group. The boys did not have formal lessons and learned instrument skills by themselves. They also watched classes online to expand their talents. Web, 15, soothes their songs with his frailing banjo, often sitting on a stool with his head bowed. Palmer, 14, is the bassist and mandolinist, and Hank, 13, drives the rhythm guitar and lonesome fiddle, while little brother Barrett “Bear,” 9, plays backup on guitar, bass and mandolin. Everyone wears a cowboy hat and has their own voice that blends in harmony. The boys are homeschooled and generally practice every afternoon. They practice one hour each on their own and then one hour together. If any of the younger ones are sleep- ing, they will practice on the patio. When they practice, some of the younger siblings will join them in singing.

“We like to incorporate some of the younger children so they can have the experience of being on stage,” says Web. “That will help them later.” Their siblings are Evie, 8, Haddon, 6, Georgi, 4, Camp, 3, Lettie, 2, and Poppy, 1. The Blackmon Boys sing bluegrass, folk and Christian. Bluegrass is closely tied to gospel, and the boys often perform classic songs. They also enjoy contemporary Christian music, folk music,  singer-songwriter and a little country (when filtered by their parents).

“We have a unique band,” says Palmer. “There are not a lot of young people who listen to bluegrass music. I think being brothers gives us opportunity to do all kinds of music. We like bluegrass and clean country songs. It is fun to be able to play the kind of music that we like to listen to at home.”

“This music goes along with our faith,” adds Web. “One thing we like is that music is a wonderful opportunity to share God’s word with other people.”

“Our faith is important to us,” says Palmer. “That is why we play in public to glorify God, not ourselves.”

Their first performance was at First Baptist Church of Opelika where they attend church. They sang for an event for the children’s building and at other times. Over this past year, they had the oppor- tunity to play at several local church events and restaurants, including Butcher Paper Barbecue twice. They performed concerts twice at George’s Farmers Market. They were excited being invited to be the opening band for Jupiter Coyote at George’s Farmers Market this summer. They have also performed at Matt’s Place, The Warehouse and Resting Pulse Brewery. They are as comfortable and capable of playing from the pulpit as they are the pub. They have even caught the attention of local bluegrass favorite The Southern Gentlemen!

The Blackmon Boys honor tradition and explore the limit. It has been said they “create a bluegrass gravity that draws in listeners and converts them into participants!”

“It is fun performing,” says Palmer. “We try to be ourselves and have fun playing music. It is a good way to connect with people and share about our faith and our love for the Lord in the songs that we sing.”

“We were hoping to perform at the International Bluegrass Competition kids division in Raleigh, N.C.,” says Web, “but we couldn’t because of Covid.” They are hoping to be able to perform in this competition next year.

All the boys encourage other kids to get involved in music. “There are a lot of kids that want to play music,” says Hank, “but they don’t know how to get started.”

“It takes a lot of work and time,” adds Palmer. “It is not an overnight thing, but if you have your mind and heart on what you want to do, then you can learn it pretty well.”

Barrett adds that they started out with nothing, but now have a variety of instruments. Web also encourages kids to get involved in music. Along with bluegrass and Christian music, he is interested in the old rock and country music from 50 or 60 years ago. “A lot of new stuff is not good,” he says, encouraging kids to look at older traditional style music.

The boys’ parents are pleased with how they have taught themselves to play instruments and

“We are so proud of how hard they have worked and how they have poured their hearts into their
music,” says Melanie. “We love that it is something they can do by themselves or with each other, and that it’s something they
can do for the rest of their lives.

“When the boys were little,” she adds, “we used to always remind them of Ecclesiastes 4:12, ‘A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.’ We would tell them that they were a band of brothers and that they were stronger together. It has been special to see them now as teenagers truly a band of brothers, both literally and figuratively.

“The Lord has used music in their lives to help them develop perseverance and diligence, to overcome fears and insecurities,” states Melanie. “It has made them closer friends and stronger, braver young men! We are excited to see how the Lord is going to continue using music in their lives!”