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First United Methodist in Brandon hosts bluegrass concert

Published:   |   Updated: December 31, 2013 at 12:32 PM

BRANDON – First United Methodist Church of Brandon will host an evening of bluegrass music at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12, at 121 N. Knights Ave.

A trio will perform: Dale Ann Bradley, three-time International Bluegrass Music Association female vocalist of the year; Grammy-nominated Phil Leadbetter, the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music Association Dobro player of the year; and tenor Steve Gulley, lead vocalist for Mountain Heart and the International Bluegrass Music Association songwriter of the year.

They will be accompanied by three brothers: Cory (banjo and resonator guitar), Jarrod (mandolin) and Tyler (guitar) Walker of Lithia. Tyler is a senior at Durant High School; Cory graduated in 2008, Jarrod in 2010.

The Walker Brothers, as they call themselves professionally, grew up at First United Methodist, “sharing their gifts in worship and at special events,” said Dan Palmer, director of outreach and group-life ministries.

Jeff Brant, the church’s director of music, said, “When I first saw and heard them in their early young teens, I realized they were special in this genre of music and were well beyond their years.”

Cory and Jarrod have played at the Grand Ole Opry, on television with Keith Urban, Earl Scruggs and Ricky Skaggs and at the Country Music Association Fan Fair (now called the CMA Music Festival) at LP Field in Nashville, where where the Tennessee Titans play.

Individually they tour the United States; Cory in Sierra Hull’s band Highway 111 and Jarrod in Missy Raines’ latest band, The New Hip.

On their own, The Walker Brothers have released three CDs, including “New Branches” with guest artists Leadbetter, Skaggs, members of Mountain Heart and others.

Through their performances at many bluegrass events, the Walker Brothers “met all those folks, became close friends with them and have been taken under their wings,” said Brant, explaining how the church was able to connect with “these high-profile, professional bluegrass greats.”

First United Methodist presents this show “not only to hear great bluegrass music from some of the best in the business, but to also bring awareness of our church. Southern Gospel and bluegrass music have always stemmed from a steep tradition of Christ followers who … give testimonies to God’s work and miracles in their own lives,” said Brant.

“We would love for anyone who is looking for a church home to consider our family of faith,” he said. “We pray that someone who needs to hear about God will be present and even perhaps begin a new journey in knowing the God who loves them!”

No tickets are needed for the show. The concert is free; however, donations will be accepted at the door.

No one will be turned away for lack of funds, said Palmer.

“We serve a large homeless population during the week, at worship Sunday mornings and with our free weekly spaghetti dinner every Sunday night,” he said.

Everyone is welcome.

For more information, call the church office, (813) 689-4161.

Send community news to Barbara Routen at