"We're just a band in Lubbock trying to make it in the music industry," says Rob McMurtrey of Cuttin' The Grass. The name is certainly appropriate for their bluegrass style of music. "There seems to be almost a bluegrass craze throughout the country right now," says Kerr Hager, who's on rhythm and vocals. Rob's on mandolin, and Aaron Campbell on bass. "You need that boom, boom, boom," he says.
They've been jamming around town for two and a half years, but they say if it weren't for one thing, they'd probably still be at home just playing for friends. "SPC has been a really big asset," says Rob. "They basically taught me how to play music," says Kerr. "People go out there because they want to learn. They want to change their life," says Aaron.
"We're just slowly taking over the music industry with people who have gone to school here at South Plains College," says Cary Banks of the South Plains College Commercial Music Program. He says the program teaches everything from blues, country, and classic rock to heavy metal and jazz. "We want to give the students a real well-rounded education in all the aspects that they need, to go out there and be in the industry. And that's what has caught the eye of so many students."
Cary also says that the program has the latest in digital recording technology. However, it's who's teaching the students how to use it that really makes the difference -- like Alan Munde and Joe Carr in the bluegrass program -- two of bluegrass' legends. "All of us still are out there in the music industry practicing our art, and I think that's one of the things that draws students here. We're not just -- we don't preach. We practice what we preach," says Banks.
Students also get the live experience. "Thursday Night Live, Country Music Jukebox television shows, the Pickin' on the Plains bluegrass show. It really gives the students real practical experience of being in front of a live audience," he says.
With all the training, Banks says students leave as ambassadors for South Plains College. "They're just all over the place -- in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and further on."
Banks says that as far as the commercial music production students go, the hiring rate is almost 100%.
As for Cuttin' The Grass, their ambitions run deep, and they say they only exist because of South Plains College. "I don't know how -- what kind of shape I'd be in if I didn't go out there," says Rob. "I never really expected that we would be going this far with the band. I've gone from not being a musician at all to now being one," says Kerr. "They love the instrument. They want to teach people. It's so much more fun out there," says Aaron. And Kerr sums up the sentiments of the whole band. "The sky is the limit for now," he says.
The band says that it's trying to hit the road within the next six months. They say maybe Austin, Colorado, or Wyoming.