143 years ago, in a makeshift hospital outside of Culpeper, Virginia, a wounded Confederate soldier from Tennessee lay writing what would be his last letter home. He died, and his letter remained in that farmhouse, never to reach his family at Chesham Creek, Tennessee.
Donny Nuckles, a resident of Culpeper County, had the good fortune to read this letter. It inspired him to compose a song to tell the story of the dying soldier and his longing for home and family. Home and family were once two constants in a perpetually changing world. Today, we still want a place we can call home and we want to be able to feel rooted by our ancestors.
Donny’s family hails from the mountains of Southwest Virginia. Like countless others, they forged through wilderness and made lives for themselves. They fought to defend their homes during the Civil War, and they rebuilt their lives after their losses. These were strong people who farmed tobacco on steep hillsides and who went to work and died in the coal mines. Donny has honored them and their fellow Virginians in his songs.
The band, Chesham Creek, was formed initially to record Donny’s songs. Because we are all friends, and although we have been performing to promote the CD, Mountain Legacy, our commitment has gone beyond its original purpose. As a band, we thoroughly enjoy not only performing Donny’s original songs, but also performing traditional mountain music. There is true joy in playing songs that honor tradition and pass on this legacy to listeners. This is what our band is about; we want to preserve the heritage of Virginia and to hand down the legacy of tradition and music to keep alive some part of our past.
Chesham Creek is composed of six members of various experience and backgrounds. Donny Nuckles wrote all of the songs on Mountain Legacy, with the exception of Ol Rebel. However, he copyrighted a unique arrangement of the song; it is always a crowd pleaser. His lead singing and rhythm guitar are the foundation of our sound. We are honored to have Gary Keel, whose “faster-than the speed of sound” guitar licks leave audiences cheering. Like Donny, Gary’s family has a long tradition of mountain music and heritage that resonates through his style. On bass, is Patty Embrey, a rock solid performer with a smile that that can’t hide how much fun she has playing. We are also fortunate to have multi-instrumentalist, Bryan Jacobs, who polishes our sound with slick dobro to give the band its country edge. Equally well, he plays mandolin to round out our folk and bluegrass leanings. Adding vocal lead and harmony singing to the band are Liz Monseur on rhythm guitar and Rebecca Isaac with her angel voice. Chesham Creek owes a debt of gratitude to our manager, Missy Holmes. She always insures that every performance is as enjoyable for the band as it is for the audience.
We hope you will enjoy cuts from our first album, Mountain Legacy. A second CD is in the process and we look forward to its success. Chesham Creek performs songs that cross genres of country, bluegrass, gospel, old-time, folk, and blues. If the music makes you think of simpler times, then we have achieved our goal as performers. On our website, www.cheshamcreekband.com is more information about the band, including biographies, song lyrics, and even a photo gallery of the individuals featured in Donny’s songs.