Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 32

Siblings John, Ben, Kyle, Rachel
and Aaron Link make up Dawson
Hollow, the next generation of
the Link Union family band.

LINK UNION and DAWSON HOLLOW
This group keeps the music in the family

by Laura L.Valenti | info@ruralmissouri.coop

geography, history, languages and cultural differences firsthand. They estimate
they have performed in 30 different states and five Canadian provinces.
As Becky Link once characterized their life and education, "We get to sample
hen Lance Link thinks back on how much life has changed for
the flavors of America as we travel."
him and his family, he's still pretty amazed by it all.
Every band that is still performing after so many years, while also producing
"Be careful when your daughter comes to you with a special
request," Lance recalls saying years ago when asked how he, his 17 albums, has to find ways to grow. Many do so by changing out performers
wife, Becky, and their five children, ended up on the road as a gospel and but that is not an option for this family band.
As their music evolved and developed, the Link Family chose to change
bluegrass band known as the Link Family. "Now I live on a bus!"
Their daughter Rachel's appeal over a decade ago was simply, "I want us their name to Link Union a few years ago. "We became a musical chameleon
of sorts," says Aaron. "We know how to play music to please the audience. We
to do this full time as a family."
"It began as a weekend hobby thing," Rachel continues, referring to their sang different songs in the southern United States, for instance, than we did in
musical adventure of nearly 15 years. The family made more than 200 Canada, a different set for senior adults than for millennials."
appearances the last year Lance was still working full-time
Ben adds, "We also began writing our songs but they didn't always fit the
venue, and people would say they missed our old songs. So we sat down
as a financial advisor for Edward Jones.
"Today, we do seven different shows," she adds. She
to figure out what to do: re-mold Link Union or start something new?"
continued the story of her family's unique musical journey
Moving from age-old hymns and the lilting melodies of Irish ballads
while she and her brothers, Kyle, Ben, Aaron, and John
to a sound that includes a younger beat led to the birth of a new group
this past year, Dawson Hollow. Made up of the five Link siblings, this
rehearsed at her house outside Lebanon where the Links are
members of the Laclede Electric Cooperative.
group features its own indie-folk-rock sound. "Through Link Union,
we learned so much about the industry," says Rachel. "We've
"We started with gospel and bluegrass music. Then later,
Lebanon
reached out to people in the music industry and they have been
we added Celtic and folk. We do a whole post-World War II
so good to us. Places like Silver Dollar City where we've performed
Christmas show based on the old Christmas movies. We also
many times over the years have been so encouraging, introducing
created a show for the snowbirds who go south each winter, a
family-style musical variety show."
us to other successful musicians. They are definitely one of the
"What we do is really eclectic Americana," Aaron explains. "With lots of reasons why we are still going."
The family went through hundreds of names before deciding on the new one.
different musical elements."
The eight members of the award-winning family band, which also "Our family has been in the Ozarks for six generations and we discovered a
includes Kyle's wife, Ashley, play a total of 18 different instruments number of serious musicians in our ancestral line," Lance says. "We spent five
featuring the fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass, flute, piano years in the tiny community of Dawson, near Mountain Grove where my mom
grew up and our grandfather and great- and even great-great-grandparents were
and percussion, and of course, everybody sings.
Rachel is the first to admit none of the family raised. The family farm was in a hollow there and when we discovered the root
ever imagined they would still be going strong as name of Dawson is son of David, we knew we had our new name."
"Truth is," Lance adds, "there's never been a better time to be in this industry.
a musical group all these years later. "We never
thought it would grow into the life that it has. The opportunities for the independent artist to create a fan base are endless now
We started small and doors just kept opening as with the internet. Becky and I are in an open discussion with the kids regarding
ways we can be at home more. Becky and Ashley are still helping Dawson Hollow
people called, inviting us to play."
Lance is the group's manager, scheduling behind the scenes with merchandising, but I know that by the time I'm 65 I don't
events from Canada to the Mexican border. Over want to be on the road any more. They can fly me in for special shows."
Other dynamics of their performances also have changed. Rachel has been
the years, they have performed from Alaska to
Florida, averaging 150 shows annually. In the the emcee, the lead spokesperson for Link Union, but Ben is the new front line
last two years, they have employed the services of voice of Dawson Hollow. Four of the five are songwriters for the group - Rachel,
a professional booking agent and Lance has found Kyle, Ben and Aaron.
"We've tested our new sound at some of our Link Union concerts, and we
himself relieved of a significant amount of work. "Like
live-streamed our first show and our Christmas show," Rachel says. "Suddenly,
anything, the key is having good people involved.
"The first few years, we had a family meeting at the instead of performing for just the 200 who were there in front of us, we were
end of each year to decide if we wanted to continue, and performing for 2,000 more on the net. People take our songs and our music to
the answer was 'yes,' " Lance adds. "The last couple of heart and use it to tell their own stories."
"We draw our music from our roots - mountain, folk, and Celtic with a rock
years, we haven't bothered to have that meeting."
"For some of us, it is the only life we've ever known," and roll attitude - multiple genres blended together, truly an Ozark sound,"
John, the youngest member of the band, adds with Ben says of the new band's music.
"We write from our own experience," adds Aaron. "And now we are sharing
a smile. A quiet young man, age 17, he began
his musical career as a grade-schooler, playing the music of our hearts."
the spoons. His oldest brother, Kyle, nods in
Follow Dawson Hollow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube or email
agreement. All of them were home-schooled
but learned much about life, traveling dawsonhollow@gmail.com.
Valenti is an author in Lebanon.
around the United States, experiencing its

W

32

RURAL MISSOURI | SEPTEMBER 2017



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - September 2017

Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Intro
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Contents
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 4
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 5
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 6
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 7
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 8
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 9
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 10
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 11
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 16
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 18
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 19
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 20
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 32
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 33
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 38
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Rural Missouri - September 2017 - 42
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - September 2017 - Cover4
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