Laughter and joy filled the Event Center on May 6, 2023, as an enthusiastic audience filled the room to welcome the Purple Hulls in an evening concert. Talented bluegrass musicians—and identical twins—Katy Lou Clark and Penny Lea (Clark) Gimble spent several years in Nashville honing their craft, writing for Sony Publishing, touring with various professional artists as backing musicians, and doing session work. Raised on a working purple hull pea farm near Kilgore, Texas, the “Hulls” have solid family values which provide the inspiration and foundation for their authentic, acoustic driven music. Since back in Texas, they have toured extensively across the country and abroad, releasing four studio projects. Bassist Sarah Mae Birkeland joined the band for the performance.
The concert amply showcased the instrumental skill of all three women, picking or playing the guitar, banjo, mandolin, double bass, and piano. Katy Lou and Penny Lea sang in tight harmonies and covered bluegrass classics, old time hymns, new hymns, and classic gospel songs, along with their own originally written songs—including one memorable one about their grandmother. The Hulls interspersed their song set with informative comments on the history of bluegrass, mentioning famed players in the genre over the years, and the surprising fact that the banjo’s predecessor was brought to America by enslaved West Africans, who played a similarly shaped, hide-covered, stringed instrument. Additionally, the genre was centered on English, Irish, and Scottish song traditions, where religion was a prominent subject and secular songs tended to focus on love, home, and the families of everyday people.
The concert ended with musical fireworks and some lightning-fast picking and dueling finger work from the sisters which amazed the audience. We were happy to end the inaugural 2022-2023 season of Trinity South Arts with such a heart-warming concert, and thank everyone for their support and attendance!
Comments from the concert:
- “Wow! 3 good programs in a row.”
- “…It WAS a fabulous evening. The Purple Hulls were a great choice…”
- “I noticed that musicians like to come to these concerts—and are usually sitting in the front rows!”