Bluegrass ambassadors Hank Smith and Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw join forces once again with their original and energetic new soulgrass band, Hank, Pattie & The Current. Hank and Pattie take traditional bluegrass and infuse it with their own flair, drawing from a melting pot of styles, including Latin and jazz, which results in an authentic and unique reflection of American music. “We all come from different backgrounds but seem to have a common link that has connected us from the beginning. Each individual brings his or her piece of the puzzle to the table, and this ensemble forms its own unique sound,” Pattie says in a September, 2015, article in Bluegrass Today. While some of the music sounds old school and some sounds fresh and new, their overall musicianship, vocal harmonies, impassioned delivery, and innovative arrangements captivate all generations of music lovers. Both Hank and Pattie are music educators, passionate about teaching the next generation on how to make this music and deliver it with feeling and emotion. “It's important to make sure that students can access this music and art to express themselves in a positive way,” says Hank.
Growing up in rural Florence, SC, where summer heat indices top 120 degrees, a teenaged Hank Smith could only find respite by locking himself up in his room and playing banjo for hours and hours. Here he readily consumed and thrived on a diet of banjo music from a variety of sources. Making its home in a nearby state park, the Southeastern Bluegrass Association would meet the first Saturday of every month for a jam and concert. Hank attended these local meetings and while hiding in the back of jam groups, watching fingers, and listening for changes, he figured out how to operate the instrument that was to be his lifeblood. After a year and a half, Hank went to college at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC where, finding no one with whom to play bluegrass, he instead discovered a diverse community of musicians with a far reaching body of influence and absorbed all manner of rock, jazz, reggae, folk, blues, classical, and anything in between. He earned a BA and eventually an MA in Middle Eastern History.
Upon earning his MA, he went on tour full-time with Raleigh, NC jamgrass juggernaut Barefoot Manner. Hank toured the country extensively with Barefoot Manner until the band left the road in 2009. He has since played in a variety of projects including The Hotwires, The Kickin Grass Band, and No Strings Attached. Currently he hosts a weekly bluegrass-oriented music series called Beer & Banjos at The Raleigh Times. He also fronts the world's first and only tribute to Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. He serves as an adjunct professor of banjo at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Hank usually maintains a roster of approximately 25 students in banjo, mandolin, and guitar. He proudly trains what he describes as an army of banjo students and soon to be unleashed upon the world..
Pattie Hopkins Kinlaw began playing the violin at age four. She eventually 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; she holds her certification in the Mark O’Connor American Violin Method. She has resided in Asheville, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee, has played on Broadway, and has helped start the Bluegrass Underground Project in McMinnville, TN. Pattie has also made appearances at a variety of music venues on the east coast. Pattie has made special guest appearances with famous and talented musicians including Don Helms, Bobby Osbourne, and Charlie Daniels. She currently teaches at 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 a member of multiple ensembles including the Trent River Chamber Players, The Long Bay Symphony in Myrtle Beach, SC, and bluegrass and Americana project the Lynda & Pattie Duo. She loves spending time sailing on the coast with her husband.
Hank and Pattie are backed by an all-star band comprised of North Carolina musicians Jonah Freedman on bass and vocals, Billie Feather on guitar, and Robert Thornhill on mandolin and vocals.
Hank, Pattie & The Current are touring in support of their fourth album of original material, RISE ABOVE, out on Robust Records.
Hank, Pattie & The Current take a bold new direction to the traditional music world with their take on the form. Hank sums it up perfectly in an article for Bluegrass Today: “It will be a one stop shop for all of the musical influences we’ve ever had.”
The band encourages fans to record our shows, venue permitting, and post them to social media, streaming sites, and internet archives. We believe our music should be accessible to all, regardless of ability to attend the concerts.
Hank, Pattie & the Current
BLUEGRASS TODAY: Live – Hank, Pattie & The Current
Rise Above (2019)
Hank, Pattie & The Current Live (2018)
Hold Your Head Up High (2017)