Meet the Band
The Kickin Grass Band…so much more than taking names. 2012 Winners of the Carolina Music Award for Best Bluegrass/Americana, this young and inspired ensemble rides on the edge of tradition, creating a sound equally vintage and progressive. They hold a traditional 5-piece bluegrass lineup yet draw on a muse stirred as much by Bill Monroe as by neo-traditional American folk, newgrass, southern rock or alt-country, a deep and wide river of inspiration made evident and come to life in the band’s stellar original tunes and distinctive sound.
The lineup consists of mandolinist Jamie Dawson, banjo player Hank Smith, bassist Patrick Walsh, fiddler Pattie Hopkins, and guitarist, songwriter and signature lead vocalist Lynda Dawson—a musician whom Nashville Public Radio’s Bluegrass Breakdown host Dave Higgs praises as, “a truly gifted songwriter.” Distinctive lead and harmony vocals from the quintet’s females are complimented by Walsh’s powerful tenor and Jamie Dawson’s retro-tinted baritone, while the instrumental arrangements spotlight individual virtuosity, most notably Smith’s banjo and Hopkins’s fiddle playing.
Their latest album, Walk With Me, has been described by the Raleigh News and Observer as attesting to the band’s, “Maturity as songwriters, instrumentalists and storytellers…it is intimate, inspiring and grand.”
Jamie Dawson came to the Kickin Grass Band by way of Christian Light, a small crossroads in Harnett County, NC. Growing up his father played bass for Bluegrass '78 and Jamie and his brother Scott were carried to festivals in and around their home state by their pops, and at an early age Jamie learned to play the mandoliln from older musicians passing along the bluegrass tradition. Jamie now resides in Raleigh, NC and is a staple in the Raleigh music scene. In addition to playing mandolin and providing vocals for The Kickin Grass Band since their start, he also had a 7-year run as bass player for the Alt-country band Brothers Grim and has played mandolin with various other bands including The Hotwires. He currently plays bass with acoustic soul band, The Morning After. Jamie also owns a real estate company in Raleigh, NC called Dream Living Realty and his business knowledge and experience guides the management of the band. Jamie is married to the band's lead vocalist and guitarist, Lynda Wittig Dawson and they have one daughter, Claire Elaine. When not playing music or running his business Jamie enjoys spending time with his family, motorcycle riding, disc golf and keeping the band's 1971 MCI tour bus in good operational condition (which is a full-time job in and of itself!).
Lynda Wittig Dawson is the lead singer, songwriter and guitar player with Raleigh-based bluegrass and Americana outfit, the Kickin Grass Band. Her true-to-life songwriting, distinct vocals and tasteful guitar have been a hallmark of the band’s Americana and rootsy sound from their start in 2002. Dawson has been described by PopMatters as writing “distinctive originals…with an ear for a catchy melody as well as interesting turns of phrase,” and by Nashville Public Radio as a “truly gifted songwriter who writes intelligently crafted lyrics married to unforgettable melodies.”In addition to being a mainstay of the band’s four albums, including the 2012 release Walk With Me, her songs have been recorded by Valerie Smith and Becky Buller, aired on nationally syndicated PBS’s Song of the Mountains and NPR’s CarTalk, and licensed for various North Carolina-based projects. She teaches songwriting camps and workshops for kids and adults, was a featured songwriter at the International Bluegrass Music Association Songwriter Showcase in both 2007 and 2012, and is honored to help judge the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in 2013.Lynda also has a passion for bringing music to young children.She performs original and traditional music at schools and kid-centric venues with her family music duo, Little Root, has taught Music Together classes for children ages 0-5, and dabbles on the clawhammer banjo and ukulele in her kitchen with her young daughter, Claire. When not playing and writing music she loves to knit, cook for her family and friends, and enjoy rare moments of quiet family time with her husband (and mandolin player) Jamie and their daughter in their 1843 North Carolina farm house just outside the Raleigh city limits.
Pattie Hopkins began playing the violin at age four and received her Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogue Certification from East Carolina University studying with Joanne Bath and Ara Gregorian. Pattie is an extremely versatile musician and has a tremendous talent for Fiddling as well as Classical Violin. She has studied with Fiddling legends Bobby Hicks and Mark O’Connor. Pattie also has a passion for the education of young fiddlers and also holds her certification in the Mark O’Connor American Violin Method. She resided in Asheville, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee playing regularly on Broadway while helping to start the Bluegrass Underground Project in McMinnville, TN. Pattie has made appearances at a variety of music venues on the East Coast. Pattie has also made special guest appearances with famous and talented musicians including Don Helms, Bobby Osbourne, and Charlie Daniels. She currently holds two private studios in North Carolina and is frequently invited to teach workshops throughout the United States for both Fiddling and Classical instruction. She performs regularly in the Eastern United States and is currently a member of the Trent River Chamber Players, The Long Bay Symphony in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and The Kickin’ Grass Band of Raleigh, North Carolina. She loves spending time sailing on the coast, playing music with friends and loves to travel!
Hank Smith started playing banjo when he was 16 in his hometown of Florence, SC after begging his parents to get him one for Christmas. Eighteen years later, he’s still at it and going strong. Hank attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill SC and played in several bands of varying styles. Never one to limit himself to just one style of playing, Hank absorbed other musical influences such as jazz, rock, reggae, classical and of course, bluegrass. In 2002 he met Raleigh NC based jam-grass band, Barefoot Manner and that started his tenure touring nationally and headlining their own festivals year after year. In 2004, Hank was a finalist in the Merlefest Bluegrass Banjo competition and in 2005 received an endorsement from Deering Banjos who built him the custom instrument he plays currently. Today, Hank tours with The Kickin Grass Band and acoustic soul band, The Morning After. He also teaches banjo, guitar and mandolin at The Raleigh Music Academy. Hank will continue to push the boundaries of what the banjo can do and is currently in the process of writing a Concerto for Banjo with violinist, Pattie Hopkins.