The Whipstitch Sallies, who play Down Home tonight at 8, began as close friends discovering bluegrass music for the first time. Allie Burbrink (guitar, banjo) and Sam Roberts (mandolin) met while working as summer camp guitar players in 2007. They were inspired to listen to bluegrass music after running a guitar camp with bluegrass musician Lukas Simpson of Goldmine Pickers.
Listening to the Goldmine Pickers was new territory. Bluegrass was no longer something that their grandfathers listened to; it was alive and being played by their peers.
Not much came from Allie and Sam’s talks of learning to play bluegrass music until Allie’s health required her to take a semester off from working during the last six months of 2009. While focusing on getting well, she began to explore and learn bluegrass repertoire. Sam came over with her new mandolin, and together they learned old standards.
Allie was asked in early 2010 to play for a non-profit organization that serves orphanages in India and Russia. Allie enlisted Sam and another friend, Kat Erickson (bass), to help play. The three girls came up with the name “The Whipstitch Sallies” and played their first show.
What started as a one-time project morphed into something more. Allie, Kat, and Sam grew more serious about their instruments and started developing their own unique take on the traditional sound. The Whipstitch Sallies booked more local performances and gained a following in central Indiana. In May 2011, they recorded a self-titled album, which sold out quickly.
By June 2011, the girls were attending festivals like ROMP in Kentucky, jamming with other musicians, and gaining new fans. It was there they met Katie Burk (fiddle) at a jam circle. Luckily, Katie had just moved back to Indiana from Hawaii. Katie jammed several times with the girls and officially became a “Sallie” in January 2012.
Their sound was complete, and they were ready for big performances. 2012 saw The Whipstitch Sallies playing over 50 shows with 70-plus other artists at local venues and large festivals like The John Hartford Memorial Festival. In May 2012, they recorded a full-length album titled “Live at the Pixy,” which contains no studio overdub and has been received well by fans and local radio stations alike.
Down Home is located at 300 W. Main St. Tickets are $12 at the door. For more information, call 929-9822 or visit www.downhome.com.