Top Strings bluegrass band is a trio of siblings who were born in Sunnyside but now live in Pasco and are fast becoming a regional favorite at the annual Sacajawea Bluegrass Festival.
Top Strings is made up of the children of John and Wendy Top. The kids are Zach, 14, on guitar, Madison, 16, on fiddle, and Joram, 13, on mandolin. Their older sister Laken used to perform with the younger siblings but has gone off to college and won't be able to join them at this year's festival, their dad said.
The festival runs June 8-10 at Sacajawea State Park in Pasco.
"The Top Strings band has been playing together all their lives," said Reade Obern, a festival organizer. "Originally from Sunnyside, and currently living in Pasco, residents from both of these communities vie for bragging rights to this bluegrass band."
Zach was inspired to play guitar nine years ago after hearing the music of George Strait, his mother said.
She knew her son was serious, because "he'd been badgering us for a guitar since he was 2 years old," she said. "He is undoubtedly why we have a band."
His sisters and younger brother eventually followed suit.
Zach said he was nervous when he first walked onto a stage, but not any more.
"Music is hard work," he said. "It pays off at a performance and I love it. It's fun."
Madison plays several instruments, including the mandolin, fiddle, bass and piano. She is quick to point out that there never were any expectations that she join the family band.
"Music makes me happy, and I do it because I like to," she said. "Bluegrass is friendly music, which is why I like it so much. My brothers are fun to play music with, but I do miss my older sister playing bass with us.
"Everyone should have a family band. It builds character."
Joram also plays mandolin. He is a country and bluegrass music fan, and he is not ruling out one day playing for a living.
"Being in a family band is fun," Joram said. "I like entertaining people and going new places and meeting new people."
Wendy Top said none of her children inherited music savvy from their parents.
"Neither my husband nor I play music," she said. "But we are fans."
Top Strings play at 6 p.m. June 8 on the main stage at the park. Admission to the festival is $30 for a weekend pass. Individual tickets for Friday are $15 or $18 for Saturday. Sunday events are free, though donations are welcome.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org