American Songwriter: The Grascals are the Hottest Act in Bluegrass

From this month’s American Songwriter:

Formed in 2004, the Grascals have emerged as one of the top bands in modern bluegrass, garnering IBMA awards and Grammy nominations while sharing the stage with the major acts of bluegrass and country music. While the individual band members had long been working professionally on major bluegrass circuits, they never could have anticipated the success they would come to have when they teamed up. Even before their first album was completed they found themselves working with Dolly Parton, who had been recording bluegrass albums for several years.

Read the whole story here.

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Q&A | Danny Roberts, mandolinist extraordinaire

If Danny Roberts has his way, the 5,000 people expected to attend Saturday’s Forest Fest ‘‘11 at Jefferson Memorial Forest in Fairdale will walk away happily whistling the iconic theme song to “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Roberts and his bluegrass bandmates from the three-time Grammy-nominated Grascals recorded a seven-song EP — “Dance Til Your Stockings are Hot and Ravelin,” a tribute to the show’s music — that was released digitally in March and will be officially released as a CD on June 7.

Roberts, a native of Leitchfield, Ky., is the band’s mandolinist extraordinaire who was honored in February as the Mandolin Performer of the Year at the SPBGMA Bluegrass Music Awards in Nashville. The Grascals also were recognized as the Instrumental Group of the Year and member Kristin Scott Benson as Banjo Performer of the Year.

Grascals’ founding member Roberts is challenging all Forest Fest visitors to “stump the band” with Andy-Opie-and-Barney trivia questions. “I don’t think they can stump us but if someone does, they’ll get a free CD,” he said during a phone interview.

 

We picked Roberts’ brain about the Grascals and the mighty mando-picker obligingly plucked back.

Who among the founding fathers of bluegrass influenced the Grascals the most?

Of course, everybody has to be influenced by Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs because they started the music. But probably the biggest influence on our band was the Osborne Brothers from Kentucky.

 

 

You’ve performed in France. Does bluegrass music translate well there?

It was really cool to look out and see people that didn’t speak English mouthing the words to your tunes. It means that they’ve got your CD and are waiting on you.

What are the band’s goals?

We’ve played at the Grand Ole Opry more than 100 times, but it would be a huge thing to be officially recognized as a Grand Ole Opry member. We’d also love to win a Grammy. I’d love to have one of those little record players.

Dolly Parton, Brad Paisley and Charlie Daniels sang on “The Grascals & Friends” CD. Do you ever hang out with them?

In the next couple of weeks, Jamie Johnson and I are going over to Dolly’s house. She loves to see our kids.

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Grascal Terry Eldredge remembers his mother: ‘She was a saint’

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.”

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Grascals’ Own Jamie Johnson on MOBY In The Morning!

Hear what Jamie has to say about his heritage as well as his take on the Grascals music!

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Grascals’ Jamie Johnson Inspired by Brother’s Musical Legacy

The Grascals’ Jamie Johnson may seem like a natural-born musician and songwriter — especially to those who hear ‘I Am Strong,’ a Grascals song he co-wrote to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. But it was a family tragedy that brought him to music. Jamie was a 19-year old college student in Louisville, Ky., in 1991 when his brother died in an accident.

read more at ——–> The Boot

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Banjo slinger Kristin Scott Benson keeps focus at home

Kristin Scott Benson’s eyes sparkle as she asks her son Hogan for a kiss.

She’s been a mother for four years, and the rambunctious boy is more interested in monsters and superheroes than posing for a photo with her.

His mother wears a black T-shirt imprinted with the words “Girl Power” in gold letters that looks like it might be from the 1980s, depicting three DC Comics superheroines. She lies down on a rug-covered floor among some of Hogan’s favorite toys.

for the full story —> HERE

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Grascals on the Cover of Bluegrass Unlimited

Kristin Scott Benson With The Grascals – Cutting The Grass Ceiling
For the full story in Bluegrass Unlimited follow the Link —-> HERE

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Blistered Fingers festival hosts The Grascals

This is the weekend of the 35th Blistered Fingers Bluegrass Music Festival being held at the Litchfield Fairgrounds. The event will feature a great many excellent acts from across the United States, Atlantic Canada and from right here in Maine.

One of the featured acts is a sextet from Tennessee known as The Grascals, scheduled to perform Saturday. One of the founding members, guitarist-singer-songwriter Jamie Johnson, called recently to chat about his band’s music, especially their latest CD, “The Famous Lefty Flynn’s,” and some personal memories of this long-running festival.

Q: I’ve been listening to your new album, “The Famous Lefty Flynn’s,” which came out at the end of March.

JOHNSON: It’s fairly new, but we’re knee-deep in the new project already, so it’s like it’s been out for years to me.

Q: One of the songs that really got me was the first track — the Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville.”

JOHNSON: We actually were going to record that song a few albums ago and we’ve just been so busy, you get lazy as far as rehearsing. We usually rehearse when we get to the studio, and we just never took the time to rehearse that one. I’m just glad that nobody else got a hold of it before we finally got it on there. It’s a crowd-favorite. It doesn’t matter if we’re on the stage with Hank Jr. (Hank Williams Jr.) or we’re at the Grand Ole Opry or at a bluegrass venue, they still love it at the show, and it puts a smile on their faces, so that’s pretty cool. We’ve just made a video of it: it’s on our website, and it’s just being released to CMT and GAC, and the video will crack you up, too, because they’ve got us going real fast and stuff like the Monkees. It’s quite hilarious.

Q: Just out of curiosity, where are you calling from?

JOHNSON: Nashville. I’m actually on the road, I’m heading down to the south of Nashville to Brentwood and a studio — we’re in the middle of our “Cracker Barrel” record, which will be coming out in February — “Grascals and friends.” We’ve got Brad Paisley on there with us. Charlie Daniels, Hank Jr., Dolly Parton, Tom T. Hall came in yesterday out of retirement and sang “Clayton Delaney” with us, so that was a very cool thing. It’s a really cool project and we’re proud to be a part of it!

Q: Let’s talk about touring for a bit here — have you ever been to the Blistered Fingers Family Bluegrass Festival before?

JOHNSON: I played it years ago with a group called Boys from Indiana — which was one of the first groups I was in — and I also played there with the Valley Boys and that was a lonesome, lonesome time. But just to give you an idea of how the bluegrass folks are a community — how close we are — we were in an RV and the leaf springs went out on (it); we had it all jacked up on one side and, of all things, there was a company right down the road that custom-built leaf springs from RVs and heavy-duty trucks. They got them done over the weekend, replaced them, and by the time we left the festival, we had had so much help from everybody there that, well, I will never forget Blistered Fingers. It’s a great family event.

I mean, they all are, bluegrass festivals are getting thinner and thinner these days, as far as the number of them, but when you get there, you’ve never had a better experience.

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it — he can be reached at luckyc@megalink.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions!

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