Diamond Creek

Location: R.A. Fountain

[Fountain, NC] Diamond Creek performs original and traditional bluegrass Friday night at Fountain General Store.

Diamond Creek, a new band fronted by Russell and Kandis Johnson of Four Oaks, plays Fountain for the first time.

Diamond Creek won the 2013 “Got to be NC” bluegrass band competition. “Given the talents in this band, tonight promises to be an excellent show,” said Fountain General Store proprietor Alex Albright.

Russ Johnson, co-founder, lead singer and songwriter for the Grass Cats, plays mandolin and his wife, Kandis, plays upright bass. She was formerly with the String Machine.

Spencer Mobley and Emily Kirsch play guitars; Julie Elkins is on banjo; and Matt Hooper plays fiddle. Most everyone joins in on singing lead and harmony.

Russell Johnson has one of the most distinctive voices in bluegrass, said Albright. “He’s got that high, lonesome that so many people associate with the genre. And in addition to being a terrific mandolin picker, he’s also one of the most successful songwriters in the business.”

Julie Elkins has played with New Vintage, another Russ Johnson project, and Kane’s River. She was featured on the the compilation CD Daughters of Bluegrass. Bluegrass Unlimited says she’s “contemporary bluegrass at its finest.” A Montana native with deep roots in Kentucky, she was a 3-time winner of the Classic West Open Banjo Competition by the time she was 12. She now lives in Raleigh, where she teaches banjo, guitar, and bluegrass vocals.

Emily Kirsch began singing in church at age 6. She has also sung with the Lost Colony Chorus and was introduced to bluegrass by Russell Johnson, who has said, “She’s able to take any song and make it her own with her heartfelt delivery and stylistic interpretation.” Kirsch was lead vocalist and guitarist for the Supper Break Band. Her first recorded solo came on Johnson’s solo CD, Anytime, Anyplace, But only You. She has also released her own solo CD, Just Another Memory. A Four Oaks native, she graduated from South Johnston High last year and is now a freshman at Campbell University.

Spencer Mobley, a Raleigh native who also plays mandolin, has performed with GrassStreet, Kickin’ Grass, the Outliers, and Danny Paisley and Southern Grass. He is one of the most talented young bluegrass pickers in the state.

Matt Hooper began playing classical violin when he was 12. At 26, he’s become one of the best fiddlers on North Carolina’s incredibly talented bluegrass scene, and he also plays with Kickin’ Grass, the Hotwires, and Don Rigsby and Midnight Call. He lives in Broadway.

Tags: bluegrass gospel, tradtional bluegrass