Meet Dasher: They’re Coming to Trailblazer Park

The auditions are my favorite part of an American Idol season. I like the variety of singers. I like seeing the face of the judges when they are impressed and I like hearing their comments. I love it best when they find someone who maybe doesn’t quite believe in themselves yet, but Katy and Lionel and Luke draw out a little something extra and remind us all what hope and positive encouragement can do.

I was watching the latest season of American Idol, but of course, I was a little late to the game. A young man performed and did a fantastic job – he received a standing ovation from judge Katy Perry. I liked his voice and listened a little closer when he said he was from North Carolina.

After he received his golden ticket to Hollywood, he came right back out to play guitar while his sister sang a John Prine song. The judges loved her too. As soon as both brother and sister earned their opportunity to continue competing on the American Idol stage, I picked up my phone and found the sibling duo on Instagram.

I messaged them both and the conversation that started there in our direct messages was actually the beginning of the idea for next week’s Trail Mix concert.

Max and Laela are two siblings from Black Mountain, North Carolina and they have both been singing longing than they’ve been walking.

“Some of my earliest memories are standing on a makeshift stage – a cardboard box – and programing songs for the entire family after dinner,” Laela laughs. Eventually the two started taking fiddle and guitar lessons and began performing and playing as a duo. Early on they would travel to bluegrass festivals to compete. But it was late high school before they played more often together. “Honestly, we argued so much about what songs to sing and who was singing them,” Laela says, “that we played more often solo.”

It took them both a few years to overcome that sibling rivalry and to appreciate that their sounds combined were something quite magical. Max and Laela are the oldest of five siblings. American Idol was a show they both enjoyed watching but not a plan they thought worth considering. In fact, a casting director actually reached out to them and they decided auditioning would be a worthwhile risk.

“The audition days were long and anxious,” Laela laughs. “Lots of B film rolling and lots of anxious waiting! You never knew when you were going to go or when your name would be called. It was definitely tense.”

Despite that high pressure, Laela says she and Max met some wonderful friends during the time and are so grateful for the opportunity. They both agree it was completely worth it. And – because I asked, Laela admits, “Ryan Seacrest is just as happy and amazing in real life as he is on camera!”

Backstage on the actual show, Max and Laela say the holding room is truly a supportive place. “At the end of the day, we are all just artists hoping to get that golden ticket so the camaraderie really was like no other,” Laela shares. “We were told that our season was the most community-centered one yet. Everyone was rooting for one another and the room was never void of music.” Laela says her favorite part of the experience was that space – jamming with the other contestants.

Max and Laela’s American Idol experience ended before the 24 final contestants were chosen, but they’re not bothered by that at all. They’re grateful for the experience and excited to live the rest of their stories. In fact, story is exactly what excites them. “Our goal is to write songs that tell a story,” they share. “We hope to be a space where people can go when they need a song to lift them up – or just a song they can identify with.”

Our May 23 Trail Mix concert marks the kick off of their summer tour and the release of their first EP. “We hope that this album speaks to people in way that makes them feel included and seen,” Laela shares. This same feeling, this sense of belonging, is the goal Max and Laela have for all of their performances too.

The Dasher family grew up in Louisiana actually, before moving to Black Mountain about six years ago. Those Louisiana roots inspire their music with a jazz and bluegrass feel. Growing up in the church, Max and Laela also credit gospel music for its influence over their songwriting and style. But moving to the mountains added a new layer to their sound. “I guess if you blend jazz and bluegrass, gospel and folk, in a pot – you get Dasher,” Laela laughs.

And we’ll all get the opportunity to hear Dasher live next week at Trail Mix – a summer kick off concert and party at Trailblazer Park.

Food trucks start serving at 6 and the music begins around 6:30. Foxy J plays first, followed by Jacob Johnson and Dasher wraps up our evening together!

Find Dasher on Instagram

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