Music runs in the family

The DePue Brothers Band. Submitted photo.

DePue Brothers Band to experience Chautauqua homecoming tonight

Taylor Rogers | Staff Writer

The DePue Brothers Band members have a long history of involvement at Chautauqua.

In the ’40s, their father came here to perform with The American Boychoir. Several years after that, Wallace, Jason and Zachary DePue came as campers for three or four seasons.

“I have incredibly fond memories of that place,” Zachary said.

At 8:15 p.m. tonight in the Amphitheater, the four brothers — Alex, Jason, Wallace and Zachary — will experience a homecoming of sorts.

The band will perform the eclectic blend of bluegrass, classical and rock that Don Liuzzi, manager and percussionist for the band, described as both “fun” and  “joyful.”

“The virtuosity that they express on their violins is, I think, no less than jaw-dropping,” he said.

The four brothers have been playing together as a family for 25 years. Their father insisted that they be classically trained, so each brother learned the violin from a young age. Zachary said they all studied with faculty at the university where their father was teaching.

But after attending various fairs and fiddle contests, he said, they were inspired to branch out.

“We thought, Wow, we have this classical background, but wouldn’t it be great if we could play some of these fiddle tunes?” he said.

So they began participating in fiddle contests and being more experimental with their music.

Zachary said each brother has used his classical experience and applied it in a different way. They now all have music-related occupations outside of the band.

Zachary is concertmaster for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Alex tours with legendary guitarist Steve Vai. Wallace recently toured as associate concertmaster of the John Williams’ “Star Wars” National Tour Concert Orchestra. Jason is a member of the first violin section of the Philadelphia Orchestra.

When they bring these different experiences together, Zachary said not only is it inspiring, but it’s what constantly evolves their music.

“Each one of us brings a unique fresh perspective from who we’ve collaborated with and where we traveled and whatnot that when we get together, there’s always something new being thrown into the pot, and it’s sort of a melting pot of ideas,” he said.

Liuzzi agreed, adding that the band members’ versatility is what makes them so unique.

“They can easily use their classical knowledge and classical repertoire and kind of make it into quasi-bluegrass, quasi-folk,” Liuzzi said.

Their success is apparent. The brothers’ first album, “Classical Grass,” sold out of its first printing

Because of the band members’ various occupations, their latest album, “Weapons of Grass Construction,” took some time to record, Zachary said. But its sound is much more diverse, with infusions of blues and rock.

They’ll start their next album — and there will be another, Zachary said — in roughly one year.

But for them, playing music, both onstage and off, has always been about family.

“Most families get together and relax on the lake; some families get together and go fishing; we play together, you know?” Zachary said. “That’s how we spend our family time together. … I don’t think we necessarily want to change that in any way.”

When they bring these different experiences together, Zachary said, not only is it inspiring, but it’s what constantly evolves their music.

“Each one of us brings a unique fresh perspective from who we’ve collaborated with and where we traveled and whatnot that when we get together, there’s always something new being thrown into the pot, and it’s sort of a melting pot of ideas,” he said.

Liuzzi agreed, adding that the band members’ versatility is what makes them so unique.

“They can easily use their classical knowledge and classical repertoire and kind of make it into quasi-bluegrass, quasi-folk,” Liuzzi said.

Their success is apparent. The brothers’ first album, “Classical Grass,” sold out of its first printing.

Because of the band members’ various occupations, their latest album, “Weapons of Grass Construction,” took some time to record, Zachary said. But its sound is much more diverse, with infusions of blues and rock.

They’ll start their next album — and there will be another, Zachary said — in roughly one year.

But for them, playing music, both onstage and off, has always been about family.

“Most families get together and relax on the lake; some families get together and go fishing; we play together, you know?” Zachary said. “That’s how we spend our family time together. … I don’t think we necessarily want to change that in any way.”