Former Rochestarians, folk musicians, Joe LaMay & Sherri Reese, are keeping alive a tradition of music passed down through the generations.
Joe LaMay likes to say that he learned to play guitar in high school because he was “too short to play basketball.” The truth is, as a young man he was bitten by the music bug through the songs of the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.
It was through his interest in their music that he studied their roots and influences and began his retro journey into the world of American folk music. Within this music he discovered the magical songs of the rivers, mountains, towns, people, and the vast plain of our rich and colorful musical heritage.
Sherri Reese comes from a musical family. Her father played bluegrass and traditional country music all his life. She grew up hearing the melodies and songs of the Carter Family, Doc Watson, Reno & Smiley, The Stanley Brothers, and other mountain music.
She began playing guitar in her teens, and was drawn to the songs of Bob Dylan, The Grateful Dead, Tom Paxton, Emmylou Harris and other folk music performers. When she began hearing the influence of roots music in their songs, she knew she had come full circle.
LaMay & Reese met at a Golden Link singaround in 1998. They were drawn to each other’s music and soon began performing together. It wasn’t long before they gained a reputation for their original songs and old-style harmony, as well as their stage presentation of their favorite traditional and contemporary songs.
It has been said that Joe & Sherri “know a good song and write a good song.” As songwriters, they have had several of their original songs recorded and performed by other folk musicians and bluegrass bands.
LaMay & Reese’s performances are warm, entertaining and enjoyable. With Joe on his guitar and Sherri on her banjo, they present an eclectic collection of traditional and original songs that are sure to inspire the novice and please the traditionalist.
Since 2004, LaMay & Reese have been contributing monthly music segments to Bill Knowlton’s Bluegrass Ramble Radio Show. Their twenty-minute segments feature songs and musicians recorded “live” in KY and on the road. They have featured dozens of musicians, and hundreds of songs. The Bluegrass Ramble is aired on NPR throughout the northeast and on the worldwide web.
In support of their local music community, in Somerset, KY, Joe & Sherri are music directors of the Carnegie Community Arts Center, host the monthly 3rd Friday Folk Coffeehouse, the weekly Lake Cumberland Jammers, and the Somerset Songwriters group.
In recognition of artistic excellence, Joe LaMay and Sherri Reese have been selected to participate in the Performing Arts Directory, a program of the Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, which is supported by state tax dollars and federal funding from the Endowment for the Arts.