Friday Song: “What Do You Say?”

A snappy little bluegrass number by a mandolin prodigy rising to the top is captured via a green room session

Mandolin master Sierra Hull is a bright star on the bluegrass scene. She writes great original songs, fronts an amazing band, and sings beautifully on top of her playing skills.

Hull was born and raised in Byrdstown, TN, and began playing the mandolin at age eight. Possessing the songwriting spark as well, she put out her first album Angel Mountain at age 10.

During an International Bluegrass Music Association festival, she came to the attention of a Rounder Records talent scout, and soon was being mentored and befriended by Alison Krauss, herself once a child prodigy on the fiddle.

Hull and Krauss, along with Dan Tyminski, performed at the White House on November 21, 2011, the same year “What Do You Say?” was released on Daybreak, Hull’s second album with Rounder Records.

In 2013, Hull received the Bluegrass Star Award, presented by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation. She has received five International Bluegrass Music Association nominations in the past three years.

Hull first came to my attention, along with many others’, when she released a short, viral YouTube video called, “In case your metronome breaks,” which featured her crushing it on the mandolin while her clothes dryer kept time with a “bluegrass backbeat.”

This song is a lively little number about people at a crossroads, with one forcing a choice — you can do x, y, or z, but what do you say?

The version of “What Do You Say?” was recorded in the green room of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville this past weekend. It shows what a talented group can do with just a mic and a simple camera set up, and how much fun it can all be. If you want to see a handful of people in perfect sync, this is a great example.

I saw this same configuration of players last July in Worcester, MA, and featured the footage of their encore at a show I attended as a bonus to another song here.