Grascals show Mayberry some love

While salutes to the 50th anniversary of The Andy Griffith Show continue to roll out, the Grascals are paying tribute with a bluegrass spin on a new CD.

Released this month on Saguaro Road Records/Time Life, Dance ‘Til Your Stockings Are Hot and Ravelin’ revisits songs that were featured on the sitcom with down-home characters and values.

The endearing show, which aired from Oct. 3, 1960, through April 1, 1968, continues in syndication across the country.

“Our band feels there was no better sitcom ever,” said Terry Smith, vocalist and bass player for the Grammy-nominated group. “Any time we can be affiliated with The Andy Griffith Show, we’ll sure jump at the chance.”

All fans of the show, band members even quote dialogue back and forth on the tour bus.

One of the many pearls of wisdom comes from Andy Taylor (Griffith, who turned 85 on June 1): “When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear. So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.”

The title of the seven-song EP comes from the line that Briscoe Darling (Denver Pyle), patriarch of a musically inclined hillbilly family, said before launching into a tune.

The Darlings played some of the album’s songs on the show, including the gospel classic Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, in the “Mountain Wedding” episode. That was when Barney Fife (Don Knotts) dresses up like Darling’s daughter Charlene to prevent her from getting married to neighbor Ernest T. Bass.

With tunes such as Dooley, Boil Them Cabbage Down and Stay All Night (Stay a Little Longer), the album also includes a new song, Boy, Giraffes Are Selfish The title comes from one of Fife’s famous lines in one of the most popular episodes, “Dogs, Dogs, Dogs,” in which Opie (Ron Howard) almost persuades his father to let him keep a stray when a pack of dogs invades the courthouse.

Other tributes to the show’s 50th anniversary include a DVD boxed set, The Andy Griffith Show 50th Anniversary: Best of Mayberry, and assorted collectibles.

The Grascals formed in 2004 when its members, six bluegrass musicians who had been performing about two decades, all found themselves between gigs.

The other members of the band are Terry Eldredge, vocals and guitar; Jamie Johnson, vocals; Danny Roberts, vocals and mandolin; Jeremy Abshire, fiddle; and Kristin Scott Benson, banjo.

“The joke is we formed a band because we were all unemployed, and there is a little truth in that,” Smith said.

Dolly Parton learned they were recording an album and asked to hear what they had so far. About three weeks later, they were part of her band, and the Grascals were opening for her.

“That opened a lot of doors for us,” Smith said.

The Grascals went on to release five albums and win numerous accolades, including two awards as entertainer of the year from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America.

In January, they released The Grascals & Friends in conjunction with Cracker Barrel. A collection of 13 classic country songs with a bluegrass twist such as White Lightning and Folsom Prison Blues, it features guest artists such as Parton, Brad Paisley, Joe Nichols, the Oak Ridge Boys and Tom T. Hall.

“We didn’t over-produce it. We let it breathe its own life, and it has a heart and soul,” Smith said. “We wanted it to be a true duet album instead of being a backup band for these artists.

“I think we pulled it off. It really is like the Grascals and friends, and the friends did a wonderful job.

As for The Andy Griffith Show, Smith not only likes the music but also the meaning.

“The show always had a message. It usually taught a good lesson on top of being entertaining,” he said. “It’s still relevant today because it’s real, from real life. And Andy did not allow one-liners on the show. He wanted the characters to be funny as opposed to the other way around.

“Like bluegrass and country music, the show is right from the heart.”

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