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People & Places: Cherrywood Drive

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Up-and-coming Bardstown band a mix of musical genres

By Kacie Goode

A performance by Cherrywood Drive is comparable to channel surfing — something a little different each time. The up-and-coming Bardstown band, comprising three local high school students, does not limit itself to a single genre, but rather plays a mix.

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“We pretty much play anything from Johnny Cash to Metallica,” said Landon Helton, lead guitarist.

Influenced by various artists in the country and rock genres, as well as other performers, Helton said each member contributes their own style.

“All me and Cole played was country music,” Helton said of himself and bass player Cole Bradley.

But when they connected with drummer Tommy Walton, a rock fan, the tastes merged.

“Playing with them made me start to like it a little bit more,” Walton said of country music.

When it comes to performing for an audience, they often “play to the crowd.”

“We pretty much play whatever they want to hear,” Helton said, adding that some shows are mostly country while others are mostly rock.

The band has a few original songs they are working on, but mostly play covers. They hope to create their own album in the near future.

The three teens are all seniors at Bardstown High School and started the band a little over a year ago.

“We never really thought we would be a band together,” Helton said. But they connected through a love of music.

Helton got into music at age 8 when his dad, Ricky Helton, taught him to play the guitar.

“My dad and my grandpa have been musicians for a long time in Bardstown,” Helton said. “Music runs in the family.”

Walton was introduced to music at around the age of 3, when he took lessons in classical piano — much different from his rock preference.

“I played it and I didn’t like it very much,” he laughed.

A few years later, Walton took up guitar and then most recently began playing the drums.

“They needed a drummer, so I kind of ran with it,” Walton said of connecting with Helton and Bradley.

Unlike his band mates, Bradley got into music a little later in life, starting on bass about two years ago.

“(Landon) introduced me to the bass guitar,” Bradley said. “It just kind of started from there.”

Bradley also takes vocal lessons from Helton’s grandfather, Wally Helton, of Easy Way Music Studio.

The band is named after the street on which Helton lives and where the band often practices inside the garage.

Their first gig, Helton said, was at a party hosted by their high school’s assistant principal.

“It was Memorial Day weekend,” Helton said.

Since then, Cherrywood Drive has played at various venues in and around the county, including several bars.

“Wherever we could find,” Helton said.

Some venues at which they have played include 62 South, Bluegrass Tavern, Roby’s Caddy Shack, Longbranch Saloon, Big Momma’s Buffet in Loretto and Last Call Bar, among others.

Being underage, the boys’ parents must accompany them to their bar performances.

“Our parents are usually at every gig we play,” Helton said.

They said their families are a huge support, whether it’s as audience members, financial support, packing up equipment or helping them prepare for the show and grow as musicians.

While the gigs are helping them build a reputation, the restrictions can be challenging.

“We don’t even get to play to our own peer group,” Walton said, because their friends are underage and can’t get into their shows.

And now that summer break has ended, the teens must also balance their music with schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

“I play golf and I’m also in a bunch of clubs that take up a lot of time,” Bradley said.

All three are also involved in Key Club at school.

“We’ll find maybe once or twice a week to practice,” Helton said, rehearsing together for a few hours when they can and sometimes individually.

When it comes to the band’s future, Helton said if the members all end up attending the same college, they plan to continue the band.

“We just don’t know what is going to happen, but we’ll try to do our best to keep together,” Helton said.

“College is definitely a priority though,” Walton said.

Regardless, the teens plan to continue music in some way after high school, even if it is on their own. But for now, they are planning for future gigs and preparing for some of their biggest performances to date.

“Our first big gig is going to be at Longbranch during Iron Horse Festival weekend,” Helton said. They will perform 8-12 Sept. 10 and 11.

The band is also planning to perform during this year’s Kentucky Bourbon Festival in Bardstown — an exciting opportunity.

“It will be quite the experience,” Bradley said. “We’ve performed in front of big crowds, but none that big.”

Helton said that performance is currently set for 5-6 p.m. Sept. 16.

To learn more about Cherrywood Drive and upcoming performances, checkout their Facebook page. They also have a channel on YouTube.