Interview by Hans Boelens

 Interview with McCoy Grass





Welcome to the BullitCountry interviews
Kelly Hi Hans, and to all the readers of BullitCountry!!
Katelyn Hi everyone!
Hans Please tell our readers who you are, where you from and what you do?
Well, I am Kelly the older sister. I am 19 years old, my birthday is November 28, 1990 and I attend a local college here in the Fairborn, Ohio area. I am studying to be a nurse. I play the mandolin and fiddle and do most of the singing and talking on stage for McCoy Grass. Fairborn is near Dayton, which in the past has been home to lots of bluegrass musicians, such as The Osborne Brothers and Red Allen.
I am Katelyn, the younger sister. I am 16 years old (I will be 17 on August 1), and I am still in High School in Fairborn. I will graduate next spring and I would like to go to college and study journalism. I have written a couple of songs on our cd. I play the guitar, and a little mandolin. And I am happy that Kelly likes to do the talking!!
Kate & Kelly HB -  How did it all start for you two, to play bluegrass, gospel and country music?
Kelly - Mom says that when I was a little baby sitting in my car seat, the only tape I would let Mom and Dad play in the car was an old Allison Krauss tape and I would sing along. We wore it out playing it all the time! We grew up listening to country, bluegrass, and gospel music. Our grandparents are from Kentucky and came to Ohio in the 1950’s to work at General Motors. We still have lots of relatives who still live in Kentucky that we visit whenever we can. Our Grandma sang in church with two of her sisters, and one of her cousins sang at Renfro Valley, which is a music show in Kentucky kind of like the Grand Ole Opry. Mom has taken us to see the Gaither Gospel Homecoming Show lots of times and we got a chance to meet many of those singers. So music is in our blood!
Katelyn - When Kelly was 11, she was old enough to join the school band and wanted to play the flute, so our Mom went to the music store here in town and got her one. I guess I was jealous so I asked Mom if I could get an instrument for my 8th birthday, so I picked out a guitar and got signed up for lessons. Well, I was playing along with songs really fast and Kelly could not blow a note out of that flute. So Kelly got jealous of me and asked Mom if she could trade in the flute for a fiddle.
  Kelly - Yeah! Our music store has a teacher for bluegrass instruments. His name is Brian Ellers, and he got us started playing. Brian takes the kids that he teaches to local festivals, where they can play on stage. I will never forget that we did not sing in the beginning, but there were others in the band of about 12 kids that did the singing. When we were told that our group would have to cancel on the biggest festival in our area because the girl that did most of the singing was going on vacation with her family, we asked Brian if we could sing. And that is the story of our first festival singing!
  Katelyn - We found out a few weeks ago that the man that ran that festival died and that 2010 will be the last year for Round Eyes Park Bluegrass Festival. So this year will be extra special, as it will be the last one.
Hans Why did you choose for the name McCoy Grass and what is the story behind it?
  Kelly—Actually, the name kind of found us I guess! Katelyn and I were starting to play a lot of the local jams and small festivals in the Dayton Ohio area separate from the music store kid band, and we did not really have a name for ourselves, just Kelly & Katelyn. So one night in 2005, we met a promoter who lives not too far from us, but was working at Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival in Morehead Kentucky, one of the biggest bluegrass festivals in the United States. He introduced us that night at the jam as McCoy Grass and the name just stuck. He has been a key person in our lives since then. His name is Tim Cahall, but everyone calls him “Poppy Tim”.


Did McCoy Grass started out as a duo or as band?, what is the story behind it?


Katelyn—We have really never been a duo. It has always been the two of us, and a band of musicians that play with us. In the beginning, it was hard to find musicians that would commit to play music with a couple of teenage girls. We have been very fortunate to have had the same band now for almost 4 years.


What are the names of the band members and what instrument do they play?


Kelly—Currently we are a 4 piece band. I play mandolin and fiddle, Katelyn on guitar, and our friend Eddie Lewis on banjo and harmony vocals and his wife Vicki Lewis on bass.


What kind of instruments do you play and what is the story behind it?


Katelyn—I collect guitars! I have a Martin D-18, a Blueridge Carter Stanley model, the one with the big pick guard around the hole. It is a collector’s edition, and mine is #48 and is signed personally by Dr. Ralph Stanley, his son Ralph Stanley II, and Carter Stanley’s son Bill. I am sponsored by Ohio Valley Guitars (  ) and they gave me on OV-400 to play. I also have an Art & Luthier guitar that was made in Canada, and also a Washburn.


Kelly—I have a Gibson F-9 mandolin and I am also sponsored by Ohio Valley, and they hand made a fiddle for me to play. The story behind the Gibson mandolin is an awesome one for me! Katelyn and I were playing just beginner level instruments and wanted to step up into a much pricier model. Our music store sells instruments in all price ranges, so I put the Gibson mandolin in layaway, where I could make payments on it. I was 14 years old and owed $3500! I had the down payment for it by earning money playing at different festivals, and I told everyone that I would do any job they needed done, like mowing the yard, or washing dishes. I thought that it was going to take close to a year to pay it off. There were a lot of people in this area who believed in us and helped sponsor us so that I paid it off in less than 4 months! God really works in mysterious ways!


What inspired you to become an artist?


Katelyn—One of my heroes is Ralph Stanley. We are fortunate that we got a chance to play at his Bluegrass Festival in 2008. Just being in Coeburn, Virginia at the Festival and visiting Carter Stanley’s grave will give you chills! Another one of my heroes is James King, who has won Male Vocalist of the Year many times. He invited us to come to Nashville Tennessee and play as a special guest of his at the SPBGMA convention, which is a huge honor. We have a video of this on our website and on YouTube.


Kelly—Like I said earlier, my first hero was Allison Krauss. We have never gotten a chance to meet her. Mom took us to see her in concert at Dollywood Amusement Park in Tennessee when we were little but I don’t remember it. Right now, my all-time hero is Rhonda Vincent. I have sung with her twice now. She is such an awesome person! We have been really lucky to have met such nice people in this business. One of the greatest things that we get asked to do is perform at different fundraising events. We recently were invited to perform at a Benefit show for the American Red Cross to help out with the recent flooding in Nashville Tennessee. Just getting a chance to share the stage with some of the bigger performers is such an honor and we are also glad to help out those in need. You just never know, some day it may be us needing a helping hand!


You’re latest cd is from 2009 called Gospel Celebration, How did you choose the title for the CD?


Katelyn—We were just tossing around ideas and this just came to us. Like it was meant to be I guess. We knew that this cd was going to be all gospel, and had the general concept of what the cd cover was going to look like, with the stained glass window. So we thought that name just fit.


What`s your favorite song on this cd?, and why?


Kelly—My favorite song on the cd will be our third release on Nite Sky records, called Prettiest Flowers Will Be Blooming—sorry Andrew! I just told everyone what our next release will be! Andrew Dean owns Nite Sky records, and has been a great person to work with! Anyway, Prettiest Flowers is just a great song, my opinion. It is an old old song out of the church hymnal that I arranged.
Katelyn—My favorite song is probably Joshua. We have sung that song in concert for a long time and just finally got around to record it.


How many songs are there on the Cd? And did you write the songs yourself?


Katelyn—There are 14 songs on the cd. Kelly and I did not write any of the songs, but Waiting On My Call was written a family friend, and From An A-Frame in Kentucky was written for us by Dave Maggard and Gracie Muldoon. Our banjo player, Eddie Lewis, wrote a song called Just Ask Jesus To Be Your Friend, which has hit the Christian Country Music Chart here in the US.


What inspires you to become songwriters?


Kelly—Lots of different things inspire us. We will go for weeks and not write anything, and then all of a sudden, start writing like crazy! I wrote a song a few years ago when one of our friends passed away unexpectedly called Give Me Wings, that I am quite proud of. I came home from his funeral and wrote it in about ten minutes. We recorded it in 2007, and that song has been played at a lot of funerals in our area since then. The song basically says “Don’t cry for me, I am singing with angels now!”


Did other artist sing or play on your latest cd Gospel Celebration?


Katelyn—No, Gospel Celebration is all McCoy Grass! Me, Kelly, Eddie, and our old fiddler, Stanley, did it all!

Hans What`s the greatest challenge in music business you want to achieve?
  Kelly—Right now, the economy in the US is not very good, and a lot of the shows we have done in the past have cut back or closed down. Attendance is down at a lot of the shows. We would like to see McCoy Grass continue to grow even in this bad economy. We have sat down with different people and hopefully mapped out a course of action that will help us in keeping McCoy Grass growing. We have fun with our music, but we have to treat it as a business.
Hans Where can we find you on the internet?
  Kelly & Katelyn--We have a website at  where you can buy cds through Paypal. We also have a myspace at  where you can listen to some of our songs. We both have facebook accounts. We also are on YouTube (  ) , where we have several videos posted from different shows. Our email address is  if you would like to send us a message.
Hans What message would you like to send your European fans?
  Kelly & Katelyn—We love you! We would love the chance to come to Europe and perform someday. We are still amazed that with NiteSky Records help, our music has touched lives all over the world! We would also hope that you like what is coming in the future. We have had so much fun with our music so far, and hopefully the best is yet to come!
Hans Thank you for this interview and the time you took for it?
  K&K—Thank you!!





  Hans Boelens ( ) online magazine

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