The Georgia Rae Family band members include (from left) Kelly Jo, Georgia Rae and Quintessa. (Photo provided)
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Georgia Rae Family Band CD release party

WHEN: 7 p.m. March 29

WHERE: Stage Left Cafe, 125 Van Buren St., Woodstock

INFO: Off Square Music presents the Georgia Rae Family Band CD release party. The Borderline String Band also will perform.

Presented by Off Square Music, the concert will serve as a CD release party for the band’s second CD, “Along the Banks of the Nippersink,” available through their website at

Along with Roni on guitar and Georgia Rae, the band includes 12-year-old Quintessa on mandolin and spoons and 17-year-old Kelly Jo on banjo, bass and washboard. All sing, while Kelly Jo is lead vocalist. 

“We are inspired by bluegrass, but a lot of real bluegrass people say we’re not bluegrass so we call ourselves ‘newgrass,’ ” Roni said. “It’s kind of good if they can’t put you in a box.”

The band plays a mix of old time, contemporary, waltzes and some originals, including songs such as “Home” about their lives along Nippersink Creek and “Long Gone.”

Written by Roni, “Long Gone” describes the girls as “apples on trees.” “Be the apple on top of the tree and let the boys climb the tree,” Roni tells them. 

“That’s the hardest part about being in a band with your kids,” she said. “I have to convince myself that these are not my children or I’ll start crying. I’m so proud of them.”

They’re fans of all sorts of music, with Mumford & Sons being the girls’ favorite band right now. Music like this, “not so much electrified,” featuring acoustic guitar, mandolin and even some cello, seems to be trending, Roni said. 

Off Square Music, a nonprofit group that hosts open mics and other music events throughout the area, became a fan of Georgia Rae and her family when the young girl won her first fiddle contest as part of the Woodstock Harvest Fest.

She placed first two years in the running.

See GEORGIA, page 14

“It’s really a high energy, enthusiastic band,” said Keith Johnson, one of the founders of the roughly 10-year-old non-profit group. “We just love having them.”

At age 12 in 2011, Georgia Rae won the adult division of the Woodstock Harvest Fest. She then placed second in the Open Division of the Old Time Illinois State Fiddle Contest in 2012 at age 13. It’s the same contest won by fiddle greats, including Alison Krauss and Aaron Wienstein.

Along with performing, Georgia Rae still takes music lessons, along with her sisters. 

“The girls are learning so many lessons from this whole experience,” Roni said. “It costs to play. They’re getting little business lessons.”

They all attend school, with Georgia Rae in eighth grade and Quintessa in seventh grade at Nippersink Middle School. A junior, Kelly Jo also is a cosmetology student at the Lake county High Schools Technology Campus. 

Their touring schedule has lead to busy weeks and missed school days, Roni said, but the girls have learned to keep their teachers informed and get their studies done regardless.

“They have to be an active participant in their education,” she said. 

Next fall, Georgia Rae is expected to be homeschooled part-time so she can compete nationally. To do so, she’ll have to practice four to six hours a day, her mother said.

“We just went by God’s lead,” she said. 

“Who would have thought or hard times, having to form this band to give them what they want to do to make it, would lead to what we have now,” she said. “They’re each other’s best friends.”