RedHead Express extends its musical journey at Strawberry Festival

The four sisters of country band RedHead Express play the equally red Florida Strawberry Festival.
Published March 5 2015

PLANT CITY — You don't have to search long on the Internet to find all kinds of amusing asides about people with red hair, and RedHead Express — four musical sisters performing at the Florida Strawberry Festival — practically invite an inquiry with their ginger strands.

The Walkers commented on just such observations while watching the BuzzFeed video 11 Facts That'll Make You Fall in Love With Redheads ( tbtim.es/ewk), and they agree that women with fiery locks are a unique breed.

Yes, one sister said, she's sensitive to temperature changes. And yes, they are more resistant to anesthesia.

"They say pain-killers are really hard for redheads, and it is for me," said 25-year-old LaRae, the band's banjo player and the only mother of the four. "When I had my wisdom teeth out they had to keep giving me those shots."

Pain medications aside, what really emerged during the conversation was a quiet presence — a sisterly bond — that becomes powerful when they play.

The band has brought their original music to strawberry lovers for the second consecutive year. They left their Alaskan home in 2007 in search of a music career and now continue to pursue the dream while living in Columbia, Tenn.

The group has built a diverse fan base through original bluegrass and country songs as well as stylized versions of recent pop hits. Their video cover of I Lived by One Republic has more than 202,000 hits on YouTube after only two weeks.

"Sometimes someone will come to a show and say, 'I really like this, do you think you could learn it?' " said Alisa, who plays fiddle and mandolin and is a "social butterfly."

"So we'll go home and learn it and make it our own."

A joy arises from pleasing their fans.

"It's fun because we have some unique instruments, like that banjo, which can really be versatile," said songwriter and guitar player Kendra, a self-described introvert. "I do a lot of the research as far as trying to find something that people are really interested in, and we're trying to build our audience too, so we try to find something that people are excited about."

RedHead Express is celebrating its eighth year on the road with a 31-city tour extending into 2016. Although it sounds sitcom-worthy — a family band of 10 (they travel with three younger brothers who perform as the Walker Brothers, their parents, and LaRae's 1-year-old son) — all four sisters agree they couldn't imagine it any other way.

"I'd rather that, than us being all split up," said youngest sister Meghan, a 19-year-old who plays a standup bass named Eddy. "It's just a different lifestyle, but we're used to it. We lived in an RV for four years, but now we have a house to spread out in."

Throughout seven years of close quarters and more time spent together than average siblings, only one member thought of venturing out on her own.

"We were just starting and it was kind of embarrassing when you're in high school and you don't want your friends to come see you doing your thing with your family," Kendra said. "But I was really glad that everybody jumped on board and got serious about it."

As for those redhead traits featured on BuzzFeed, the girls generally played along. But when asked if it is true that anyone who stares into the eyes of a redhead for more than 10 seconds will fall in love, they just giggled.

Editor's note: Correspondent Kelsey Sunderland also has red hair. Contact Sunderland at [email protected]

 
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