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Spotlight on No 9 Coal performing Saturday at the Blue Vine

What was once considered strange and unusual is now becoming a standard in the world of bluegrass. No 9 Coal is among a new wave of acoustic bands that blend bluegrass, rock and jazz to create a sound that is eclectic and refreshing.
No 9 Coal respectfully pushes the boundary of traditionalism and sometimes downright disregards it. The band’s goal is to create music that is as challenging for them to play as it is intriguing to fans.
The group is comprised of three members, all from Salisbury:
Tommy Farmer plays acoustic guitar and sings. He plays a Martin D-16. Tommy formerly played electric guitar for several area rock bands. When asked what his influences are, he jokes, “the wind and the rain.”
Tommy’s influences range from Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana to Tony Rice and The Seldom Scene. Several years ago, Tommy and Keith Earnhardt started to collaborate on their original songs. This eventually led to what is now No 9 Coal.
Keith Earnhardt is the former lead guitarist for Denial, an early ’90s thrash metal band signed with Colossal Records. Keith has traded in his electrics for a 5-string banjo.
“There are similarities in the intensity of technical metal guitar and the complexities of 5-string banjo. Both are blazing hot with subtle undertones of their own,” Keith comments. 
When playing with No 9 Coal, John Hartford, Henry Mancini and Newgrass Revival inspire Keith most.
Eric Webster plays an upright bass in No 9 Coal. He currently plays a 1949 Kay S-8 that he restored himself. Eric was exposed to bluegrass at young age and plays in traditional bands in the area. In addition to bass, he plays dobro and mandolin.
“Playing original songs and collaborating with good musicians is always a great experience,” Eric says. Among Eric’s influences are REM and Wilco. He also played and toured with the band, Mercury Dime.
When these three collaborate, they create a sound you can surely tap your feet to. No 9 Coal’s surprising lyrics and driven instrumentals will leave you humming along to their tunes.
For their upcoming dates see www.myspace.com/numberninecoal.
No 9 Coal will be performing 9 p.m.-midnight Saturday at The Blue Vine, 209 S. Main St. There’s no cover charge.
For more information call 704-797-0093.

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