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The Believers Last First Friday at The Rec Center

By local musician and contributing columnist Ashleigh Chevalier. Photo provided by the artist.

After 10 years, The Believers are playing their last First Friday at The Rec Center at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, 2015.

Most members of the Fredericksburg music community have heard The Believers, one of Fredericksburg’s most beloved bluegrass bands – whether it’s at Music on the Steps, Market Square, The Rec Center, or another community event, listeners tap their feet and enjoy the warm-hearted harmonies.

The Believers were born from a pickin’ group Stephen Hu started on break at GIECO. Shannon Sale, Lowell Sale’s wife, heard the group, and left a note on Casey Hu’s desk (Stephen Hu’s wife), seeking to connect the two bluegrass lovers. Sale and Hu met at an open jam session in Stafford at Mr. B’s engine repair shop on a Friday night. From there, the two connected with Bud Griffis, and the band was formed with Hu on guitar, Sale on banjo, and Griffis on mandolin and fiddle.

Over time, the band has worked with several bass players, including Big Powell (Lowell’s dad, who also owns The Jewel Box), TJ Morgan, John Jones, and now Andre Eglevsky. TJ Morgan is even flying up from Florida for the Final First Friday show. He and Andre will trade off sets throughout the evening.

Hu recalls how bluegrass won his heart. He was born in Baltimore and raised in Arlington, then attended Mary Washington College where he earned his music degree. His youthful appreciation for punk rock expanded into jazz, R&B, soul, and then bluegrass. Albums by Del McCoury, Ricki Skaggs, The Johnson Mountain Boys, inspired him to start learning to sing and play some bluegrass tunes.

“I would go to fests and bring my guitar, and hang back. Then I began to practice my one song, ‘More to be Pitied,’ by the Stanley Brothers. And when my turn came around, I had my one song.”

Ten years later, The Believers have become a local legacy. On Friday attendees can grab a copy of The Believers’ live recording from a Music on the Steps performance featuring Eddie Dickerson.

Hu works closely with Downtwon Greens and its annual fundraiser, The Down Home Ball. This year The Down Home Ball will be held November 14 at Roxbury Mills. Hu will play trombone with Colonial Seafood at this show.

Be on the lookout for more shows from Hu’s other musical project – The Totally Lonesome Trio a more contemporary folk project with Scotty Buchanan and Jeff Smith.

The Hu Family are generous hearts in the community. Just before meeting for this interview, Hu was volunteering at The Table, a community dinner at St. George’s Episcopal Church downtown. His wife Shannon works with The Community Foundation, known for putting on Community Give. Their two sons, Lennon and Simon, and are active in Fredericksburg All Ages music program.
“Give freely – and that’s the way I try to play.”

Ashleigh Chevalier is a contributing writer for Fredericksburg.Today.
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