With a $5 cover charge and drink specials of $2 wells and $3 bottles, America’s roots were brought to the Granada Theatre in the form of bluegrass music when the Basement Pickers Association and The Skirts performed on Friday.
“It was fantastic. I’d never seen either one play before, it was a good time,” said Scott Goering, senior computer science major. “I had a blast and everybody had lots of energy.”
The Basement Pickers opened with their nine piece ensemble including an upright bass, ukulele, mandolin, three acoustic guitars, fiddle, banjo and a variety of other instruments including harmonicas and a washboard. The band wore Hawaiian shirts that coincided with their cover of John Prine’s “Let’s Talk Dirty in Hawaiian.” The band covered traditional and contemporary “fiddletunes,” as well as other bluegrass hits.
The Skirts is a three piece, all female group out of Cottonwood Falls made up of bassist Sarah Bays, dulcimer and percussion instrumentalist Melissa Tastove and guitarist Elexa Dawson. All three women contributed vocally, harmonizing and taking on solos. They performed original songs and covered songs like “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson, “No Rain” by Blind Melon and “Stand by Me” by Ben E. King.
Bays said that The Skirts had played in Emporia before at Natasha’s and Beer:30, but they want to do more since they’re only 20 minutes away.
“We kind of had a lull there for a little bit where we were just kind of hanging out, working up some new stuff and now that the weather’s getting warm and people are out doing stuff again, we’re looking to play some more shows,” Bays said.
Dawson said she was impressed by the atmosphere of the theater and that someone in the audience said it felt like they weren’t in Emporia.
“In here you forget that you’re still in Emporia,” Dawson said. “I think Emporia’s doing a great job supporting the arts council and supporting the Granada Theatre.”
Bays, Dawson and Tastove have been playing together since May 2009, when Elexa and the Hitchikers, a band that Dawson and Tastove had worked with, broke up.
“We all just started playing together over at (Dawson’s) house, jamming and hanging out and eating food and got a chance to play at a family BBQ and that went really well and then just kind of went from there,” Tastove said.
Bays, who went to K-State as a voice major, said she began playing bass not even a year ago and Tastove said she’s played her instruments for about 2 years. Dawson has played guitar off and on since she was 12 years old.
“I got nails put on for junior prom, so I didn’t play the guitar again for like four years or something until I was 20 and I went to Winfield and picked up the guitar that I’d learned on and then started playing again,” Dawson said.
Tastove said the people that inspire their music are people they cover like Neil Young, Jonie Mitchell and The Beatles.
“Well, Elexa writes most of the songs. A lot of the other songs we do are just cover songs of, you know, just bands that we like or just songs that we really like,” Bays said.
Tastove said the best part about playing together is that they all love each other and have a lot of fun. Dawson said there are a lot of “That’s what she said” jokes. As far as playing music in general goes, Dawson described it as an out of body experience.
“I think that it is able to convey messages that words alone cannot,” Dawson said.
Bays said that as far as long term goals go, the band is just looking to make a c.d. and get their music out there
“We’re not in it to get big and make lots of money,” Bays said. “We’ve all got our day jobs and we all love our lives and what we do and we want that to stay the same, so we’re not looking to go on tour or anything like that, just produce a CD and be able to share our music with people.”