House Blend | Episode 58: All Strings Attached
All Strings Attached, the all-acoustic vocal-instrumental quintet featuring members of the Shemanski family from Leona Valley, California, makes its TV debut with a set of high-lonesome bluegrass classics on SCVTV’s “House Blend” show, hosted by Santa Clarita journalist Stephen K. Peeples and premiering Saturday, June 21, at 10 p.m. (PT).
Fronted by Virginia Shemanski on vocals and acoustic guitar, All Strings Attached also features four of her children — daughters Paige (age 22) playing fiddle-violin and Bethany (20) on banjo, guitar, penny whistle and much else, and sons Ethan (18) playing upright bass and Colin (15) picking mandolin.
All five Shemanskis sing as well, with a smooth and well-arranged vocal blend that benefits from sharing the same gene pool, and a leader-mom who’s an experienced, media-savvy performer.
On “House Blend,” All Strings Attached turn the SCVTV Media Center set into the family’s front porch at home. They have fun singing and playing the traditional bluegrass classics “I’ll Fly Away,” “Down to the River” (the ladies, a cappella), “Whisky Before Breakfast” and “This World is Not My Home.”
Between songs, the Shemanskis talk with Peeples about making family music instead of family mayhem.
We find out how each member got started with their chosen instrument(s); how leaving the drums and piano at home liberated the group; and their experiences winning accolades at local festivals like the venerable Topanga Banjo & Fiddle Contest.
Not surprisingly, at the 2014 festival in May, the Shemanskis picked up top awards in banjo and singing and scored Top 5 in band, while Colin took second in the advanced mandolin competition, the first year he entered.
The group first played the renowned event in 2011 and earned an honorable mention. The next year, they earned second place in banjo and mandolin, third-place band, and first place in singing.
Shades of the Carters, America’s First Family of Country Music
While the tight-knit Shemanski family has always been musical, they’ve played together in this five-member configuration as All Strings Attached only a few years. You’d never know it by the quality and authenticity of their performance; it sounds like they were born to play genuine bluegrass and bluegrass-gospel.
Traditional acoustic American music does run in the Shemanski family. Virginia’s maiden name is Messick; she also plays cowboy and Western music as a member of the Messick Family Singers, local Newhall legends for generations. The Messicks are also regulars at the Santa Clarita Cowboy Festival each spring.
Locally, All Strings Attached has played at Vincenzo’s in Newhall, the Autry Western Heritage Museum in L.A.,at various Southern California venues on the Bluegrass Association of Southern California circuit, and at private parties and churches.
In a remarkable coincidence, Paige Shemanski is getting married earlier the same day, June 21, that All Strings Attached’s “House Blend” appearance premieres.
About SCVTV’s ‘House Blend’ with Stephen K. Peeples
Peeples and SCVTV studio director Megan Perez co-produce “House Blend” at the SCVTV Media Center in Newhall, Calif. Perez also directs the show and the production staff, usually assisted by renowned TV sound engineer Mike Mazzetti. SCVTV President/CEO Leon Worden is “House Blend” executive producer.
The “House Blend” series premiered on SCVTV in September 2010. The shows air and stream Saturday nights at 10 (PT) with an encore telecast/stream Thursday nights at 10.
A series highlight was the May 2011 show featuring renowned folk-country-bluegrass duo Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen, one of the top finalists for a WAVE award from the Western Alliance for Community Media. Read more here.
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Santa Clarita journalist Stephen K. Peeples is a features writer and photographer for KHTS Radio News (hometownstation.com) and SCVNews.com, the online news and entertainment division of SCVTV, community television for Southern California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He also independently provides Web editorial, social media and SEO writing/editing services for select clients, and writes the occasional post for his own website.
On TV, Peeples books, writes, hosts and co-produces the popular “House Blend” music and interview show on SCVTV (scvhouseblend.com). In addition, he delivers the KHTS/SCVTV “SCV Entertainment Beat” report Thursday night/Friday morning during SCVTV’s NewsBreak program (the Web version is posted at SCVNews.com).
Photos: Stephen K. Peeples©2014 SCVTV