BRADENTON -- Cole and Logan Layman are normal teen siblings form Virginia: 15-year-old Logan's dealing with a stress fracture on her left ankle that's preventing her from running, and 18-year-old Cole is preparing to graduate from high school. The two argue a lot when they have to travel long distances together.
But the brother-sister duo also make up the musical act In Layman Terms, and the teen performers played at Manatee High School as part of "Blues in the Schools" on Friday morning in advance of the 2015 Bradenton Blues Festival on Saturday.
With Cole on guitar and Logan handling the bass and the singing the pair is set to release their first album in April, will compete in the International Blues Festival in Memphis and will take the stage seven times Saturday as part of the Bradenton Blues Festival.
Put on by Realize Bradenton and sponsored by the Bealls Foundation, the annual Blues in the Schools event brings a different blues artist to Manatee High School each year for an hour-long performance and question-and-answer session with students. Cole and Logan played a number of original and cover songs, including a blues version of Meghan Trainor's' pop song "All About that Bass."
Cole discovered the blues about nine years ago, when he stumbled upon some Muddy Waters songs on YouTube.
"It's about really feeling it and really sending a message through music," Cole told the students.
Cole's parents realized he had orthopedic issues when he started kindergarten. He had weak fingers and couldn't hold a pencil. So his parents decided to buy him a guitar and help him strengthen his fingers through music. Years later, Cole assured the audience his fingers are just fine.
"I can hold a pencil fine now," he said.
Logan's voice, Cole said, is a mystery, since their parents can't sing and neither can Cole. Logan began singing about four years ago, she said, but just recently started taking lessons to further refine her voice. And while she doesn't mind singing on stage, she said she gets nervous when she has to speak between songs. Cole told Logan it was her job to entertain the crowd between songs while he tuned his guitar.
"I don't know any good jokes," she said, but she told the students she was glad she and Cole got to miss school Thursday and Friday to be in Bradenton performing.
An avid runner, Logan competes in cross country, indoor and outdoor track competitions at their high school. One of her ankles was in a brace Friday morning because of a stress fracture, but that didn't keep her out of sparkly red heels for the performance.
"All she wants to do is play bass and run and sing," Cole said.
Of the original songs the two sang, one was in honor of their grandfather, who died recently of lung cancer.
"It's not a sad song," Logan said. "It's a happy song about celebrating life."
They also performed an original song inspired by a poem their mother wrote. The song "Fake It 'Til I Make It," will be on their upcoming album "Tangled."
After taking requests from the students in the audience, the two performed "Royals" by Lorde and Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird."
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter@MeghinDelaney.