The performing duo Mischief in the Meadow is composed of Rebekah Blair (guitar) and Alli Boling (fiddle). These two seniors at Sullivan East High School have been involved in music for as long as they can remember, but Mischief in the Meadow began as an accident.
"It actually started out last fall accidentally when the two of us ended up being the only ones available to perform a show that the SEHS gospel bluegrass band had been asked to play for," Alli says.
Alli started out singing in church at a very young age. For her eighth birthday she got her first fiddle and lessons, which she took for several years through early high school. Rebekah says she has been singing in church for as long as she can remember. She grew up singing mostly gospel but started branching out to country and bluegrass in ninth grade. She started studying guitar in the eighth grade.
These two young ladies will be performing at Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion this year for the third time.
"Performances in Rhythm & Roots are possibly the best performances out there," they say. "We've had the chance to perform in 2011 and 2012 with the SEHS gospel bluegrass band and look forward to performing this year on our own."
Alli and Rebekah both love performing in front of an audience. Rebekah says, "I like seeing the audience react to the performance, and I enjoy getting the crowd involved in whatever is happening onstage."
Alli says, "Like Rebekah, I love being able to spark a feeling in the crowd. When I'm onstage, the spotlight is literally on me, and it's my chance to share my story and give the audience an opportunity to identify with the songs I'm singing. And the feeling after a performance is just indescribable; you can't get that anywhere else."
Both of them sing in their church choirs and are a part of the SEHS gospel bluegrass band. Music for them is a way to express their emotions and inspire others.
"Music is the way I express my innermost thoughts and feelings, and I enjoy sharing that with others," Rebekah says. "Music can also be an inspiration to many people and can give them hope or make them dream in ways they could never imagine."
Alli says, "Music is an incredible outlet for me. A lot of times there are things in my life that I can't really put into words in a conversation, but when I sit down with my guitar, I can channel my feelings into a song that hopefully people can relate to. Music is also an escape for me. When I don't know how to deal with things it's nice to plug in earphones or, again, sit down with my guitar and just chill out."
Storytelling is an important part of their music. They say that they try to create and perform music with the goal of sharing their stories and giving audiences the chance to relate to the things they face in life.
They each have their own musical inspirations, and they share several: Alison Krauss & Union Station, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Pink Floyd. Alli says, "I had the chance to meet Doyle at the 2012 Rhythm & Roots, and then invited the band to visit our gospel bluegrass class at SEHS. I can't thank them enough for being such a good group of musicians who genuinely care about the music they play and about those of us who wish to carry on the tradition."
Music is a tradition in both Rebekah and Alli's families. Rebekah's grandmother used to write quite a bit of country music back in the "80s, and her great-grandfather was a bluegrass musician who could play any instrument as well as sing lead vocals.
Alli's mom, Denise Bolling, played in the band in school and taught herself to play fiddle before Alli was born. Denise continues to play fiddle at church, and her grandfather also played the fiddle.
Rebekah plans to continue performing while she is in college. Her career goal is to become an occupational therapist and start a family. Alli plans to stay in the music field. She plans to get a bachelor's degree in business and then get a degree in music business. She hopes to have a career in music either performing or on the business side.
Rebekah and Alli are both 17. Rebekah is the daughter of Todd and Missy Blair and lives in Piney Flats, Tenn. Alli is the daughter of Jim and Denise Boling and lives in Bristol, Tenn.
They will perform twice on Sunday, Sept. 22 during BR&RR. At noon they will be at Manna Bagel and at Shanghai Restaurant at 2:15 p.m.
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