The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs

Kendra and Zack Harding form The Brown Mountain Lightning Bugs, a folk(ish)/Americana group hailing from Winston-Salem, NC. The band made its debut in 2015, shortly after the two tied the knot in an old chapel in the heart of the Piedmont.

Combining their unique backgrounds that range from classic rock to classical guitar, they create a blend of original music with deep roots in the past with a contemporary twist here and there.

The Bugs have played extensively throughout the Southeast, including performances on The Grey Eagle’s Patio Show Series, Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival, and at Awendaw Green. They’re currently in the studio working on their second album, due out in 2020.

Song-by-Song: White Winter Blankets

From Kendra:

My mom is a really big fan of Robert Frost’s poetry, so I grew up reading his work, and while “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” isn’t my all-time favorite of his works (that award goes to “Love and a Question”), I think it’s a beautifully evocative piece of writing. I’ve had it memorized almost as far back as I can remember, and I had thought when I first started composing that it would be a fun one to set for choir. Then I realized Eric Whitacre had tried and failed to get the rights to do that, and if he couldn’t convince Frost’s estate to let him so I was out of luck.

But, like all good musicians, I found a loophole. And thus “White Winter Blankets” was born. Zack started the banjo riff for this one on the front porch of my parents’ house when we were dating. It was fall and there was a chill in the air, and I started thinking about this poem that’s as much in my DNA as playing music is and the lyrics and melody spilled out.

I’m so proud of how this track turned out. The recording captures perfectly everything I had hoped to communicate through this song. And I got to be a total hipster-indie-musician-chick and play a middle-school glockenspiel on it!

From Zack:

This recording is one my proudest achievements as a musician. When Kendra and I wrote this, I thought the chords were neat, the lyrics were beautiful, and we played it well, but it continued to evolve and grow as we played it live. We developed this ever-growing dynamic in the song, culminating in a big vocal crescendo at the last chorus, and I think it's as powerful a musical statement as anything I've ever done. I was listening to this song in my car recently, and I had chills when the crescendo hit. Very few pieces of music have ever done that for me, but White Winter Blankets is the only original recording of mine to ever come close.

There's a lot going on in this track, and a lot of players. I want to thank Adrian Brinkley, Trevor Walker, and Ryan Packett for creating an electric guitar symphony that took a lot of thinking and effort to find the right notes at the right time. Wayne's production is top notch on this, too, giving it just the right amount of subtlety and dynamic build. Kendra's vocal is stunning, and makes me feel humble that she's willing to play music with me every time I hear it. This will be a hard one to ever top, artistically.