Washington County Line bandmates share a love for bluegrass

Bluegrass made such an impression on Smith that even though he recently moved from Burnt Hills to Indian Lake in the Adirondacks, he has no qualms about coming back to this area each week to play with Washington County Line.

"It's fun," he said. "I wouldn't do all that traveling if it wasn't a good time."

For Meyer, it's more than fun " it's a release from the stress of everyday life.

"When I play that bass, I'm so relaxed," he said, "I'm not fazed."

Quinn, who plays guitar, also loves getting lost in the music.

"It's this terrific sound that you've always wanted to be part of, and it's happening," he said. "To make that music and have that feeling, it's like nothing else."

As carefree as band members might feel while they're playing, their repertoire includes a lot of songs with serious themes " a hallmark of bluegrass. They sing about America: about lost loves, about the struggles farmers face, about life on the railroad.

It's not uncommon, they said, for the crowd to get choked up.

"We could bring a tear to a glass eye," Hammond, who plays resonator guitar, said with a laugh.

He stressed, though, that band members don't need to "ham it up."

"Bluegrass words are unbelievable," Hammond said, noting the band's repertoire includes a song about black lung disease that Hammond couldn't bring himself to sing after his wife was diagnosed with emphysema. A year later, a doctor concluded the diagnosis was incorrect, and only then could Hammond sing the song again.

The band's catalog is filled with bluegrass standards, such as "Dear Old Dixie." "Little Georgia Rose" and "Carolina Star," but Washington County Line also strives to play some songs that aren't as widely performed, such as "Colleen Malone" and "Lovesick and Sorrow."

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