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Akron music scene combines folk music with rap

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Posted at 6:50 PM, Mar 17, 2023

AKRON, Ohio — Inside the Rialto Theatre on a quiet Saturday morning, a new tune bounces off the walls.

Nate Vaill, who leads A Band Named Ashes," a progressive folk group, is joined by Darrell Woodall, known as the rapper King Locust.

The two crossed paths in Vaill’s recording studio after the Norton native produced several of Woodall's albums.

"When I was working on my album, I was having a hard time finishing up words and I call him up and he knew exactly how to organize my thoughts," Vaill said. "He’s pretty much my best friend these days."

This unlikely friendship is now hitting all the right notes, as A Band Named Ashes and King Locust are working on collaborating on an EP slated to be released in May.

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King Locust and Nate Vaill improvise after a rehearsal.

"We want to show folk music and rap music really aren’t all that different," Woodall said. "When you listen to Nate singing about leaves falling on a frosty window, it's the same as me saying people on the street corner and the cops rolling past. It’s just painting vivid pictures with sound and music."

Gina Wilson, a cellist, recalls her entry into the band.

"My cousin was friends with an old drummer and she’s like 'I know this band that needs a cello,'" she recalled. "[And I said,] 'who has a cello in their band?'"

She makes up part of this group constantly looking for new ways to tell old stories.

"I don’t think we’ve ever wanted to be in a box," Wilson explained.

Combining categories and proving there’s still more to learn about music.

"Hip hop just turned 50 and folk music is timeless," Woodall said. "Just inspiring more people to mesh and combine the cultures."

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