By Aaron Ploof
For The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — While it may seem difficult to get today's youth to listen to bluegrass music, that wasn't the case with the Punches family.
“People ask ‘How did we get the kids interested?’ We joke that we just put the instruments out into the room and said to children, ‘Don’t touch these',” joked Bruce Punches.
Punches and his wife, Bobette, lead the bluegrass group, The Punches Family, that features their four children.
All of Bruce and Bobette’s children grew up playing instruments, but they each have their own specialties. Emily and Brooke, their youngest children at 11 years old, play the fiddle and the dobro. Their oldest son, Graham, 16, plays the guitar and fiddle, and Owen, 14, plays the banjo.
Once the kids started playing, the parents encouraged them to stick with it. “All of their cousins, aunts, and uncles played,” Bruce said, “so it was natural that they would start as well.”
The Punches Family, from Missouri, will perform at Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 911 S. Rangeline Road,at 6 p.m. today. A love offering will be received with a suggested donation of $10 per person.
The family currently travels the country, performing at fairgrounds, churches, and business events while spreading their love of music and the gospel through the bluegrass medium.
Their career began five years ago when they felt inspired by their faith to share their musical gifts with the world. “We felt like the Lord was moving on our hearts to get into the industry, “Bruce said, “He was prompting us to take our music out on the road.”
The family travels the country in a MCI bus; there’s no where they won’t go. “We’ve been all over the country,” Bruce said, “[We’ve been to] Florida, Minnesota, and Texas. Churches are our main venue; about 95 percent of our jobs are done there.”
Bruce explained that it wasn’t difficult to get his children interested in listening to bluegrass or playing instruments. “We decided to bring them into the group because the kids grew up and we didn’t have to have adults anymore.”
He added, “My favorite part of performing is watching them mature musically."
Along with winning first place in Silver Dollar City’s Youth & Bluegrass band contest and being nominated for Contemporary Group of the Year in 2009, they have performed alongside and been inspired by some well-known artists.
Bruce recounted a specific incident when his youngest son, Owen, was given the chance to sing the song “Ruby” along with Kentucky-born bluegrass singer Bobby Osborne. “He had a big time . . . he thought that was something,” Bruce said. There was also another time when Owen "high-fived country music singer Mel Tillis without even knowing it,” he added.
The family’s deepest hope is to bring hope to the world through their music. “Ultimately, we want to see people accept salvation and come to know the Lord through us,” Bruce said, “We also want to encourage folks and uplift them with our music; we feel that God has given us a special talent.”
They’re looking forward to returning to Anderson; they enjoyed their last visit here. “We were here last September, and it’ll be good to get back. The area is full of nice people,” Bruce said.
If you go The Punches Family in concert When: 6 p.m. today Where: Parkview Church of the Nazarene, 911 S. Rangeline Road, Anderson Info: A love offering will be taken with a suggested donation of $10 per person.