Exception To The Rule, a young progressive bluegrass band from Northeast Georgia, refuses to be bound by genre rules as they write and perform original music. Driven by riveting live shows, compelling lyrics, innovative arrangements, and soaring harmonies, Sara Ray (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Laura Ray (banjo, guitar, vocals), Jason Ray (bass, vocals), and Kayla Ray (violin, mandolin, vocals) combine their talents to create a refreshingly bold sound that can only be described as the “exception to the rule.”
Band members draw inspiration from a variety of musical styles to create Exception To The Rule's own unique sound. Laura's hard-driving banjo style provides a bluegrass cornerstone for the music, while Kayla's sultry violin and mandolin solos add elements of classical, jazz, blues, and rock.
“One of our biggest influences has always been the Dixie Chicks. They were rebels who actually made it cool for girls to play banjos and fiddles,” says Laura. “We were also inspired by artists like Johnny Cash and Alison Krauss because they were musical innovators … They were the exceptions to the rule.”
“We're siblings, but we're also four very different people. We each have our own tastes in music, so we each bring something unique to the table. I think this individuality really helps shape our sound,” adds Kayla.
On-stage, the vocal and instrumental versatility of each band member adds spice to live performances and keeps audiences guessing about what will come next. Listeners of all ages are delighted with a mix of original numbers; traditional bluegrass, rock and country favorites; and driving instrumentals.
“We make it a point to include variety in our shows, and the fans always seem to appreciate it. We've found that people are more receptive to a new song if we occasionally throw in one they know … And it's a lot of fun to put our own creative spin on a classic cover,” says Jason.
Off-stage, band members keep busy writing new material. Their self-titled debut album, released in July 2010, features eight original songs penned by the band, along with four fan-favorite covers, including Johnny Cash's famed “Folsom Prison Blues” and the Eagles' “Seven Bridges Road.”
“We try to write from our own experiences and observations. Our music feels real to the listener because it's real to us. It's about who we are and what we believe in,” explains Sara.
Whether paying homage to their musical roots by covering a classic or making their own mark by unveiling an original song, these four uniquely talented and charismatic young artists craft their style based not on what's popular at the moment, but on music they are passionate about — and that makes them the … Exception To The Rule.