Wimberley Bluegrass Band consists of four Santa Ana siblings who regularly deliver classic grounded bluegrass to Orange County – and they are all under 21 years old. Mark Wimberley, 18, plucks guitar; James Wimberley, 18, twangs banjo; Michael Wimberley, 15, plays fiddle; and Danielle Wimberley, 20, strums mandolin. Each member started playing in 2006 after discovering a Nitty Gritty Dirty Band album. “It was maybe late 2005 that we heard it. We just loved the sound of the banjo,” Michael Wimberley explained. In order to turn their passion into a career, the band mates study marketing, computers and math to aide the business side of their music. They all plan to go to Chapman University to finish their degrees and pursue music full time. Q. You guys do play in a traditional fashion. Do you think traditional bluegrass is lost in today’s generation? A. Danielle: A lot of people still do it nowadays. Michael: I think it’s kind of having a resurgence, the traditional style of bluegrass music. That’s a good thing about the bluegrass genre is most people still keep it traditional even if they do play it a little more progressive or contemporary. Q. How does Orange County react to your music? A. Mark: I think a lot of people are surprised that we play bluegrass here. If we were out in Kentucky, everyone plays bluegrass out there. The fact that we are in Southern California and we are young people, no one really expects to see that. The progressive stuff or something like Punch Brothers or Mumford and Sons is almost not even bluegrass anymore. The fact that we play the stuff from the ‘40s and ‘50s, I think that catches a lot of people’s attention right off. Danielle: I think a lot of people enjoy it. They tell us that they enjoy it a lot and see that people are playing bluegrass here. Q. Do you have any favorite artists? Who are your main influences? A. Michael: We really like Ricky Skaggs. But we have a lot of [influences]. We always go to the old stuff like Bill Monroe, who is the father of Bluegrass music. Mark: Even some of the newer people on the scene, they have a traditional sound we like to listen to, we like to try and recreate as we play. Q. How did you learn to play your instruments? A. Michael: We all taught ourselves these instruments. Along with the instruments, we also got a book. We learned the basics from there, but we just kind of took off on our own. Danielle: We go to jams a lot and jam with [other musicians].   Michael: Using CDs of our favorite artists, we will try and almost imitate what they are doing.   Mark: We go to live performances and try and watch everybody’s fingers and try and do exactly what they did. At least get pretty close.   James: We all enjoy the music, we all enjoy practicing. It’s really our passion.   Q. What do you like most about playing bluegrass?   A. James: It’s such a sincere music. It’s from the heart, and it’s real American.   Mark: The good thing about bluegrass is what you hear is what they are really doing on stage. When you get to a lot more electric music, there’s distortions or there’s loops or something. Bluegrass, it’s a more honest music.   James: Bluegrass is lively music, and that’s good for us. We are happy people and we play happy music.” - Angela Ratzlaff

Orange County Register

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