“For me, five years is like a dream…it has been a dream come true.”
- Rob Pate
Last month marked the five-year anniversary of Rob Pate and Cindy McDermott as a couple and as the bluegrass duo Blue Ribbon Healers.
“We feel like that’s a significant milestone,” says McDermott. “It’s a great time to reflect on everything that we’ve done in the past five years, and that includes a lot of traveling, a lot of songwriting, and a lot of new experiences.”
She says she and Pate met because of music. “It was just the most natural thing for us to play music together and be together. It all kind of happened at once—from the beginning, it was all wrapped up together.”
The duo’s influences include “a lot of different flavors from the Southeast and the Delta region,” says Pate. “Our main concern is songwriting, but we have a voracious appetite for a lot of different styles.”
He equates incorporating a musical smorgasbord with the diversity that is required of top chefs. “If you’re a chef, you want to know the styles of the world, and if you’re a songwriter, you don’t want to serve up the same dish every night.”
The Blue Ribbon Healers travel extensively, which hasn’t left a lot of time to record their next album. But they’ve released a live album every year and are currently in the studio with former Allman Brothers Band bassist David Goldflies at the board.
Whether you catch the Blue Ribbon Healers as a duo or with a full band, they will be having a good time. “Making friends on the road, that’s one of the best parts about traveling,” says McDermott. “You’ve got a whole network of friends anywhere you go. And music is the best way to make friends. It can say a lot more than you’re capable of saying in words.”
Pate admits to “itchy feet” when he stays in one place for too long, “When you go out on the road you get saturated by all of these outside influences. If you manage to stick around in an area or region that you’re unfamiliar with, all these wonderful things start happening to your outlook, to your approach, to whatever your craft is. Your songwriting changes—everything changes.“
No matter how far they travel—from Florida to California to Spain—the couple feels they will always make their way back to the beach.
“We both grew up down here,” says McDermott. “We both have family here. This is home. This is always going to be home.”
McDermott equates the past five years to a Grateful Dead tour. “Deciding to leave everything and just go follow the Dead, because that’s kind of how it felt for my life,” she explains. “Everything changed for me in the best possible way. I would say that the five years for me is a long, strange trip. And I’m not getting off any time soon.”
Discover more at blueribbonhealers.com.