MOUNT VERNON — Chestnut Ridge, a central Ohio gospel/bluegrass band, will perform at The Woodward Opera House on Friday, June 11, at 7 p.m.
Tickets for “Songs & Sundaes” are $10 and include an ice cream sundae bar provided by Round Hill Dairy. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Chestnut Ridge performs all over Ohio and surrounding states, playing in churches, festivals, and community and private events. They have produced numerous CDs and several of their videos can be found on YouTube. Their passion and professionalism can be seen as soon as they take the stage.
“About 20 years ago, Jim Dunfee and I wanted to start a gospel music ministry. We started out playing in just one nursing home a month,” explained band member Jeanell Branstool. “Early members were people we went to church with or long-time friends. Some members have moved on, but we’re always blessed with new members joining the group. Our current group has been together for 10 years. We are family.”
Chestnut Ridge members include Jeanell Branstool on mandolin and vocals, Jim Dunfee on guitar and vocals, Mickey Holback on banjo and vocals, Duane Hardesty on bass and Terry Dennison on guitar and vocals. They have been playing together for nearly two decades and have a strong following young and old. While they primarily play gospel, they started warming up with some traditional bluegrass and country tunes and have now worked them into their performances as well.
“We love people and playing for them! We want everyone to have a great time so we encourage folks to sing along. We often have our audience up and dancing,” said Branstool. “Our motto has always been ‘sit back, relax and put a smile on your face.’ We take requests as well. If we know it, we’ll play it.”
Smiling has been a bit more difficult for the band lately as they lost their fiddle player, Peter Streiber, to COVID-19. “We learned a lot from him. He has such a heart for playing for the Lord,” Branstool said. “He brought so much to the group not only in his music but in the great man that he was.”
Chestnut Ridge also went from playing 80 shows in a typical year to about 10 in 2020. “It’s good to be out there again. It’s an honor to play at The Woodward and we look forward to seeing everyone on June 11,” said Branstool.
For show and ticket information, visit www.thewoodward.org or call 740-263-6737. The Woodward Opera House is located at 107 South Main Street in downtown Mount Vernon, Ohio, and is the oldest authentic 19th century opera house in America. Follow The Woodward on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for all the latest event information.