BEST BETS: Redhead Express pull into Delaware State Fair

Guitarist and lead singer Kendra Walker performs with her sister Alisa on fiddle during the Redhead Express performance on The Plaza at the Delaware State Fair earlier this week. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

A gamble more than 10 years ago has paid off handsomely for the Walker family of Palmer, Alaska.

On Thanksgiving Day 2007, Kendra, LaRae, Alisa and Meghan, who ranged in age from 17 to 11, along with their three brothers and parents, left home in a new RV and trailer in search of a musical dream.

That year saw them playing music wherever they could. Eventually the sisters took center stage in the group and they became Redhead Express.

A decade later, the group now has over 3,000 performances under their belt in venues all across the country headlining their own show and opening for artists such as Charlie Daniels, Clint Black and Trace Adkins. They have three albums out and are working on a fourth.

This week sees Redhead Express at the Delaware State Fair, playing their brand of folk and country music on The Plaza at 6 and 8 each night.

“We sold the house and toured North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee playing jam sessions or wherever we could. We fell in love with the job and ended up with a show in Branson, Missouri for a while,” explained lead singer and guitarist Kendra Walker.

She is joined by Alisa on fiddle and mandolin, LaRae, who plays banjo, dobro and guitar and Meghan on bass. All of the sisters contribute to the four-part harmony of the music. A couple of their brothers help back them up as well.

Growing up, the family was into music, mainly of the country variety. But Kendra says there were other types heard and performed.

“I listened to a lot of Broadway. My parents were into ’80s music like Chicago and Abba. I sang jazz in high school. Dixie Chicks were huge influences on us. Their ability to take roots, bluegrass and old-time music and make it more commercial was huge,” she said.

Christmas of 2006 started them on their way to the stage.

Kendra had been asking for a guitar, and LaRae got a banjo, an instrument she had been begging for since she was 12. Alisa had always loved the family’s violin, and, out of the blue, their aunt gave Meghan an upright bass.

“Mom taught us piano before we got the other instruments,” Kendra explained.

LaRae Walker performs with her four sisters on The Plaza at 6 and 8 p.m. at the Delaware State Fair, which ends Saturday. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

“As we started to play those, Alisa’s fiddle teacher said ‘I could see you guys becoming as big as the Dixie Chicks.’ We just thought ‘that’s never going to happen,’” Kendra said.

“We ended up playing together but never had the intention of doing it to this extent.”

Kendra said the decision by the family to hit the road didn’t initially go over well with her. The oldest, she had her sights set on college.

“I fought it in the beginning and we weren’t very good honestly. But I didn’t want to miss out on the experience of seeing places I had never seen before,” she said.

“I decided to give up the college idea but I did online courses the first semester and then decided to get serious and focus on music.”

With two young kids of her own, Ms. Walker said she marvels at the decision her parents made those years ago.

“It was a huge example for me to support your kids’ dreams. I didn’t realize at the time how big that was,” she said.

“Our dad didn’t make a living at first. He was a real estate agent in Alaska and then he did real estate coaching from the road.”

Kendra said the band will do close to 250 shows this year, making their homes in Nashville and Idaho during the time they aren’t performing.

Meghan Walker plays bass for Redhead Express. (Delaware State News/Andrew West)

This is “fair season,” as she calls it and it will stay that way until the fall when they will play festivals and concert halls. For this leg of their tour there is a traveling party of 16 in a bus, van and a trailer.

The group includes her husband who runs sound; Alisa’s husband, who handles merchandise, and their two kids; brothers; mother; and a nanny.

Kendra feels lucky to be touring with the people she loves the most.

“We get along better than we used to. You have to get along living in a 45-foot space,” she said.

“But I love knowing you’re with people who always have your back and are in it for the long haul with you.”

She said this week in Delaware has been a fun one. This is the group’s second straight year at the state fair and her kids remember visiting last year.

“They’ve been talking about this week for a while. There are some really unique things at this fair. They love the circus. The people are really genuine and we’ve made a lot of friends,” she said.

The Delaware State Fair runs until Saturday in Harrington.

Audubon exhibit at Biggs

From Aug. 3 to Nov. 25, the Biggs Museum of Act will host an exhibition of over 50 original etchings and lithographs of well-known artist and naturalist John James Audubon. The works will be displayed alongside the work of contemporary artists from America and the United Kingdom who have been influenced by his monumental animal studies.

The Biggs will kick off the exhibition with a ticketed opening party on Friday, Aug. 3 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., which includes a hosted bar and cocktail reception.

Space is limited. Tickets can be purchased at www.BiggsMuseum.org/Audubon or call 302-674-2111.

The exhibition will also be accompanied by a variety of programming including nature hikes, watercolor workshops and collaborative nature-related, partner programming. In 1826 when Mr. Audubon turned 41, his wife encouraged him to travel to England to find innovative ways to reproduce over 300 watercolor bird studies into one of the most important projects in art history.

The Biggs Museum will display over 50 original Audubon prints made for his two best-known publications, the monumental “Birds of America” and the ambitious “Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America”.

Rarely seen hand-painted etchings from the collections of Winterthur Museum and Library and lithographs from the Huntsville Museum of Art will illuminate Audubon’s ideas about scientific examination, depicting birds and animals within the emerging United States and their relationship to the vast wildernesses of early America.

Modern opinions of Mr. Audubon’s legacy will also be explored with displays of artworks by living artists he influenced.

More information can be found at www.BiggsMuseum.org/Audubon.

The Biggs Museum is at 406 Federal St. in Dover.

Just Dance!

Just Dance! is a new fundraising event created to support the Dover Library Foundation.

The foundation’s mission is to raise funds to invest in future programming and activities for the library. The first Just Dance! will be on Saturday, Sept. 29 from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Delaware Technical and Community College’s DelOne Conference Center.

For seven hours, there will be fun, food and dancing while DJ Un33k and DJ Giz of Spinjocs spin tunes and keep participants moving.

This is a team fundraising event. Each team (maximum 10 people) must raise at least $1,500 by Sept. 29. Teams that raise more than the $1,500 minimum will earn additional prizes.

For more information about participation, sponsorships, and registration forms, contact Margie Cyr at the Dover Public Library at 302-736-7032 or by email at Margery.Cyr@lib.de.us.

Tom Walls benefit

A benefit for Tom Walls will be held Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. at Delaware Veterans Post No. 2, 720 Pear St., Dover.

Tickets are $20, which includes food. Music will be provided by Trini Lima, Social Ruins and Wall of Cain.

There will also be a 50/50 raffle, silent auction and cash bar.

Mr. Walls is suffering from influenza A, pneumonia, sepsis, heart failure, kidney failure and a life-threatening lung infection.

For those unable to attend and would like to donate, visit www.gofundme.com/help-tom-fight-for-life.

Now Showing

New this weekend in theaters is the Tom Cruise flick “Mission: Impossible – Fallout” and the animated “Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday is the remake of the comedy “Overboard” and Charlize Theron in “Tully.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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