Bluegrass and Brats with the Meadowlarks

Bluegrass and Brats with the MeadowlarksRegular attendees of the Community Arts Center’s Lunch with the Arts series have experienced a wide variety of artists from multiple disciplines – recently including photographer Guy Mendes, Walk Softly Films, visual artist Mark Wilhelm and many more. For the next Lunch with the Arts, Danville will get a taste for bluegrass music while getting a taste of barbecue and bratwurst from Captain Frank’s Hotdog Emporium.

This coming Wednesday, join The Meadowlarks, made up of Kyle Ayres (songwriting, lead vocals and guitar), Blake Hester (banjo) and Amandalin Ryan Ayres (vocals and songwriting) as they perform a smattering of original songs and their favorite covers, talk about what inspires them to write and play and teach attendees how to make a washtub bass from stuff that can be found in a garage or barn.

This central Kentucky-based band cite’s influences from traditional bluegrass musicians as well as modern bands like the Avett Brothers and Carolina Chocolate Drops. Since forming 1 ½ years ago, the Meadowlarks have had the pleasure of playing in unlikely places such as abandoned buildings, barns, silos, and beaches, as well as opening for and playing with bands such as Jack and the Bear and 23 String Band.

Growing up in a country church allowed Blake Hester and Kyle Ayres to be around a pastor who played in a gospel bluegrass group. After going through a few phases in musical taste they finally discovered and grew an appreciation for traditional Appalachian mountain music, the precursor to modern bluegrass and one of America’s native styles. By blending the style of traditional fiddle and mountain banjo music with their native love of the underrated and often unknown artists who played it they eventually discovered Americana music.

Blake and Kyle both started guitar, but soon found a banjo for sale in Danville for $120. Kyle began playing it first, but then Blake developend an interest in banjo as well. He is now the official banjo player of the group. Jacob Warren, the Meadowlark’s drummer, thinks like a percussionist but also uses his knowledge gained from being in an award winning marching band to add dynamics to the songs that otherwise might be lacking. Amandalin, who prior to the Meadowlarks had no instrument but a lovely knack for harmony and good rhythm, joined in on the band with vocals and a homemade washtub bass. Kasey Webb, who will be joining the Meadowlarks  for their Lunch with the Arts performance, is a skilled fiddler, banjo player, bassist, mandolin player and guitarist who works at Centre College as music instructor.
Amandalin Ayres, Kyle Ayres, and Blake Hester have had the pleasure of calling Danville home for the past two years. As Amandalin and Kyle Ayres said regarding their current town: “The guys are all from Garrard County but Mandy is from Danville. We have practiced, written, eaten and danced, and otherwise terrorized the neighbors at her house for the past two years… It’s a place where you can put down roots. Danville has that small town charm and southern hospitality that your soul yearns for. Kentucky is beautiful and diverse, its people are hard-working and kind, it’s the home of Bluegrass, derby pie and Bourbon…what else could a person need?” In their songwriting, Black and Kyle are often inspired by their mutual love of Kentucky.

To learn more about The Meadowlarks and listen to some of their music, visit If you know you’re coming to Lunch with the Arts and want to reserve lunch from Captain Frank’s Hotdog Emporium, you’ll need to register by Monday, May 19! If barbecue and brats aren’t your thing, you’re always welcome to bring your own lunch, too.

Lydia Kincaid
Centre College Class of 2014
Community Arts Center Intern