The Gaskill Family
Bob and Brenda Gaskill live life to the fullest, traveling and performing with their children-eight children, to be exact.
Years ago, the couple felt the call to utilize their family in spreading their passion of the gospel and God's love throughout the nation with their bluegrass melodies. Every member of the family, which includes five boys and three girls participates one way or another in the band, whether it's singing or playing an instrument.
Starting from oldest to youngest, the Gaskill family band-members, not including parents Bob and Brenda, are: Christie, 25; John, 22; Shelley, 19; James, 15; Peter, 13; Timothy, 11; Joshua, 8; and Andrea, 6. The instruments played are guitar, banjo, bass, harmonica, flute and the dobro, an instrument that looks like a steel guitar.
Scheduling year-round travel dates at churches, events and festivals, as well as being a supporting and loving wife is all in a day's work for Brenda. However, she also enjoys home schooling.
"I love it and wouldn't do it any other way," said Brenda. "We start every day around 8:30 a.m. and run, on most days, until four o'clock." Naturally, Bible study is included in the children's morning curriculum.
Though they don't precisely admit it, the Gaskills have bonded themselves to a life mission of bringing out a person's lost energy during worship.
"We had a very formal church invite us to play for them, which was odd," said Bob. "But after we were done playing the usher said to me, ‘At first the crowd was smiling, then they were tapping their toes, and then they were clapping. It's the most action we've had around here in a long time!'"
The Gaskills have performed all over, from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska to Florida. Fifteen-year-old James, the lead singer said, "We've made a lot of friends traveling. We get to jam with a lot of people and we have a lot of fun doing it."
Bob has written over thirty songs but the boys created a song of their own that they like to perform called, "Picking the Strawberries." When played, you can hear James, Peter and Timothy's voices croon over guitar strumming and banjo picking.
On the road, the family's semi-truck pulls their living quarters, formally named a "camper." The rig is roughly 63 feet long.
"One of the main things that touches the people we visit and meet for the first time is they see us work together as a family," Bob said. "The boys helped me convert the semi-truck, and one of their home-schooled projects was to build our massive generator, along with the cab to the back of our truck.
"We met four interns who worked at a state park we were playing at who felt blessed by our family," Bob added. "They just stayed with our family, watched every concert we performed at and played with us on their time off. They had been a part of hurting families."
Along the miles, the Gaskills have created some memories they will never forget. The entire family chuckles as they recall one strange night at a public campground in Tennessee.
"We decided we wanted to camp somewhere quiet, so we pulled into a little city park," said Brenda. "Lo and behold at 2:30 at night a group of people came out of nowhere and started a real ruckus."
"They didn't speak English," Bob added. "I asked Brenda what we were going to do because we weren't going to get any sleep. She somewhat jokingly said to me, ‘Let's just pray for rain.' Keep in mind, the night was clear and you could vividly see the stars. But in about fifteen minutes it started to downpour and our prayers were answered!"
With this family, nothing seems impossible. Their music continues to spark joy into the people who just joined a church or those who've been going to the same services for over eighty years.
"We had the opportunity to play at a Kansas City rescue mission," Bob said. "We got up in front of a tough looking crowd with big men with frowns on their faces. But then we started playing and they really picked up. Some of the guys recognized our songs from when they were young and started to cry."
"Bluegrass grows on you," said James. "I want to do this for the rest of my life. I look forward to passing this music down to my kids when I'm married and have a family. I wouldn't trade my time playing music and hanging with my family for the world."
The Gaskill family can be contacted at [email protected]