By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–It is never a dull moment at the Washburn house in Cedar City.
Paul and Emily, with their three sons, Will, age 14; Nate, just over 12; and Jake, the ‘fiddler,’ age 10; are busy with school, homework, and the at home music rehearsals where they come together for hard-driving, traditional blue grass music.
Paul Washburn who grew up playing traditional blue grass music with his father, grandfather, siblings and extended family said he ‘decided to inflict the same fate’ on his own children a few years ago. “Fortunately for us, Emily holds us together at home…She plays Bass and was up for the noise and challenge of keeping us on track.”
According to Washburn, the family has performed at weekend ‘gig’s and venues since 2016. “The boys lead the band and they seem to improve daily,” said Washburn of family practice. “In fact, they’ve threatened to ‘kick us out of the band’ if we aren’t able to keep up with the schedule.”
The Washburn Family Blue Grass band will be featured at the Frontier Homestead ‘Folk Life’ Festival set for June 22 and 23 at the Cedar City Museum and Park.
“I would say that I grew up going to festivals in the mid-1980’s both in Utah and in Calif.,” said Washburn of his family background. “My sisters played mandolin or violin, my Dad was a guitarist and Mom played Bass – so there was always something fun going on — music is something that really holds a family together.”
Washburn, who is mostly self-taught learned to play banjo in private lessons but took up the guitar in high school.
“I loved everything from blue grass to classic rock in my teens, and as a college student at Brigham Young University, some friends and I started an acoustic rock band and then recorded our music.” Washburn and his wife stay one musical-step ahead of their boys. “Will was into rock ‘n roll even as a toddler. He started out with a miniature guitar and a pretend microphone, and then started playing seriously at 6 years old.”
It was five-year-old Nate who took up banjo, and now, plays violin with the Cedar Middle School Orchestra. “Each of the boys showed an interest in music or string instruments from the earliest age,” said Washburn, “And our youngest, Jake, was designated as our must have ‘fiddler.’
According to Washburn his grandfather, Fred Washburn, a tenor and banjo player, was part of the first Big Jazz Band in Vernal, Utah. Back in the 1950s. “So we’ve tried to instill in the boys that real music talent takes work: They have a choice in that commitment but it’s something they find pretty awesome when they get out on the stage.”
The Washburn Family Blue Grass band has been featured at the Logandale, Nev., Blue Grass Festival; at the Cedar City Livestock Festival (in October); and as part of the Shakespeare Festival ‘Green Show’ this past summer.
“We all have a vote on what we want to do, and where we want to perform,” said Washburn of a home filled with the sounds of fiddling, guitar, banjo and bass. “So far we haven’t had any complaints by the neighbors, and some tell us they like to keep their windows open.”
Caption: (Back, left to right) Paul Washburn, long-time musician, his wife Emily, bass player and their three sons, (R to L) Will, age 14; Nate, age 12, and Jake, the ‘fiddler’ age 10, are the Washburn Family Blue Grass. (photo by J. Aerts)