When celebrated bluegrass group The Grascals performed last month at Nashville’s famed Station Inn, it was a homecoming of sorts. The founding members of the band met at the club and used to perform there often as The Sidemen, so the flawlessly-executed, high-energy concert was not just a promotional stop for the band’s recent #1 album The Grascals & Friends: Country Classics With a Bluegrass Spin. It was a celebration of The Grascals’ career and music.
It was an especially emotional night for singer/guitarist Terry Eldredge, as it was the group’s first hometown show since his mother, Mary Jane Eldredge, passed away in February. “When we played the Station Inn, she’d always be there,” Eldredge told Examiner.com. “And she wasn’t there, so yeah, toward the end of the evening it got pretty emotional. We had a lot of friends there, and she did, and my dad.”
Eldredge described his mom with love. “She was a sweetheart,” he said. “It’s how they always say, ‘I want to marry a girl just like Mom.’ That’s pretty much it. As far as I’m concerned, she was a saint. Very caring and giving . . . if she don’t get into Heaven, ain’t nobody gonna get in, I can tell you that. I know a lot of young ‘uns think about their mom that way, but that’s the truth about her.”
Terry also remembers his mother’s cooking fondly. “She cooked with hog lard and grease and all that stuff, the good stuff that nowadays they say is bad for you,” he said. “But it sure tasted good back then! She made some of the best dadburn chicken and noodles I ever ate in my life.”
The singer added that his mother could be a disciplinarian when it was called for. “Probably from about the time I was 10 to about 13, she whipped my butt every day,” Eldredge recalled with a laugh.
“I don’t want your readers to get the wrong idea,” he quickly added. “She whipped my butt because I needed it, because I wouldn’t mind. That ingrained in me to mind, and respect people, and she also taught me manners, and to be kind to people. She taught me to treat people just how you want to be treated.”
Eldredge said part of his musical ability may stem from his mother as well. “She used to be the loudest singer in church,” he remembered. “I think I got my voice from her. Thank God, ’cause Dad wasn’t that good of a singer!”
The musician described both of his parents as supportive of his career in music. “Mom and Dad totally were both into it,” he said. “We always listened to the Grand Ole Opry growing up. When I first moved to Nashville, my first job was playing at the Grand Ole Opry, so they loved that.” Eldredge has been performing on the Opry since his late teens, and The Grascals have performed there more than a hundred times. “We’re trying to get them to make us members!” he quipped.
On a more philosophical note Eldredge observed, “You live and you die. It’s all part of life. Everyone has to go through it. And it sucks sometimes, but you’ve got to just keep going on. That’s what Mom would want. She wouldn’t want us laying down.”
Asked to summarize his mother’s contribution to his life, Eldredge became emotional. “I had a lovely mother for 48 years,” he said in a voice choked with emotion. “The best. I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Page closed.”