North Texas Daily

Yeatts grows bluegrass

Yeatts grows bluegrass

Yeatts grows bluegrass
April 02
00:05 2015

Matthew Payne / Staff Writer

If one visits the Courthouse most Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., they’ll be greeted by the warm smile of Rachel Yeatts who, with mandolin in hand, plays with the troupe who dub themselves Blue GrassFire.

Yeatts, an English professor and interim director of the English department at UNT, said she plays at the Square frequently on weekends, performing bluegrass music with friends adorned with acoustic guitars, basses and a wide variety of different instruments that produce a soul-hearty ambiance to anybody watching.

“I never listened to bluegrass music growing up, since my family always preferred country-western music and wrote bluegrass off as silly hokey stuff,” Yeatts said. “It wasn’t until late in high school I visited a certain music shop in Dallas with one of my friends and picked up the mandolin after some locals showed me a few chords. It was an instant connection.”

What many say is most perceptible about Yeatts’ group Blue GrassFire is that it features bluegrass’ earnest, mountain-esque style, and is infused with questions about love, life and death.

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Professor Rachel Yeatts warms up her voice and mandolin on Saturday for the Courthouse Jam.

Yeatts said among the dominant alternative and rock music throughout the live music scene of Denton, the contrast is perceived in a beautiful way.

“Anybody who has an instrument and wants to make great music with us is welcome to join in,” said acoustic guitarist Bill Defoore with the Courthouse Jam. “We welcome all types with open arms.”

As Yeatts and crew strummed away on their instruments this past Saturday, two young men with noticeably different styles strolled past with wide grins across their face. The two happened to be traveling musicians part of a band called 2 Proud 2 Prostitute, a punk rock group based out of New Orleans that were passing by for the Courthouse Jam.

The guitarist, Matthew Jolly, said his past experience with the folk of bluegrass was overwhelmingly friendly.

“I really enjoy these folksy-type jam sessions,” Jolly said. “I remember one time I was in Pensacola, Florida looking for a music store. I went to the grocery store to ask for directions, and all these old folks were just jamming on their fiddles and ukuleles. They saw my guitar, asked me if I wanted to join them, and the whole thing was just so bada–.”

On the Friday preceding the Courthouse Jam, a mobile art gallery called the Ghost Town Arts Collective was in Denton. The Collective featured the creative work of the UNT English department, ranging from student-created poems and songs to paintings.2_yeatts_web3

Ukulele player Cindy DeFoore follows sheet music of “Shall We Gather at the River?” as she plays along with her troupe

Yeatts attended and said her feature was a song entitled “Paradise Mountain”, a bluegrass ode she had written at the age of 18, and is the title song of her album.

Following her performance, Yeatts said she had played a variety of different tunes that morning, and with her fellow musicians, attracted a large crowd of bystanders: fathers with daughters, older gentlemen and college students pleased by the change of pace.

“I’ve always found music to be more than just a hobby – rather, it’s like a second vocation to me,” Yeatts said. “Like literature, it’s a wonderful way to express oneself.”

Yeatts will be performing at the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival April 24-26. Her debut album “Paradise Mountain” is available for digital download at rachelyeatts.com.

Featured Image: Professor Rachel Yeatts, right, and company strum along to bluegrass tunes this past Saturday’s Courthouse Jam. Photos by Matthew Payne – Staff Writer

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