The beginning: Dorothy and John's first public performance was in 2013 at Shirley's Home Cooking on Lake Watauga, Tennessee. A musician friend from Valle Crucis, NC had called in a panic--her band’s banjo player had accidentally shot himself in the foot, and the fiddle player was also missing in action. With John's fiddle and Dorothy's banjo, the gig was a success, and a whole lot of fun.
Fast forward: In 2018, Bluegrass bass player Kevin Borgstedt introduced himself to Dorothy at the USC Jazz Camp, and the weevil forces began to grow. WEEVIL EMPIRE loves reviving great old songs and embracing new ones!
Dorothy Kendall grew up in Columbia, SC singing in the Episcopal church choir and playing piano. Her cousin Archie played the banjo and they sang old songs together at family gatherings. Raised up listening to Hank Williams and Ray Charles, she used to sneak out to see club acts like blues legend Drink Small at the Grow Cafe and folk singer Nanci Griffith in Five Points. In addition to her primary instruments--rhythm guitar and voice--Dorothy plays piano, mandola, clawhammer banjo, and accordion.
John Wetzel is a long-term resident of Blythewood, S.C. Although he hails from a military family that was often posted to Europe during his childhood, he has been a S.C. native since his teenage years. He makes his living as a surveyor, but his primary interest is music, especially the traditional music of many cultures, including the music of the American South. He enjoys singing harmony and playing fiddle, mandolin, clawhammer banjo, guitar, and Bayan (Russian style) accordion.
Kevin Borgstedt, also a Columbia native, was drawn to the bass lines from his grammar school days of listening to folk music groups, He played trumpet growing up, then upright and electric bass in college. After years of playing in an assortment of 1940-style big bands, songwriter demo recordings, and local bands, Kevin was invited to his first bluegrass party by Steve Henion, his bluegrass godfather, Even though he knew nothing about the bluegrass body of songs, he was welcomed like a long-lost cousin. He never looked back. Since then, he's learned from some master players: Roger Sprung, Tom Gray, Barry Bales, Pete Kelly, Mark Schatz, Frank Shaw, Danny Stanley, Mark Templeton. Kevin uses the bass to define the song structure and provide support for the melodic leader (vocal or instrumental) so she/he has the flexibility to go anywhere and find the way back again.
Tom Coolidge joins us on his harmonica for special occasions/larger gigs. Tom writes, sings and plays songs representing suburbicana music. Lexington,SC, is his home. When he’s not playing with a local band, Tom conducts his acoustic musical mischief all around the state performing his brand of tasty home-style tunes. Some are original and others represent seldom-heard classics of his time.
As WEEVIL EMPIRE, we are invasive and love to play any chance we get. You can find us out on the First Thursdays at Tapps Arts Center and at various jams and coffeehouses around town. One of our favorite recurring engagements is the Louise Moorefield Pub in West Columbia. Past performances include Wavering Place Plantation, the Edgefield County Historical Society, Mt. Airy Old Time and Bluegrass Fiddlers Convention, weddings and private parties.
We would love to play for your next event and can provide our own live sound equipment as needed. Please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (304) 801-3342.
Set lists available upon request.
Weevil forth and sing!