Posted tagged ‘grascals’

THE GRASCALS, “Before Breakfast,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks

August 7, 2017


Twelve years after The Grascals released their first (self-titled) album, the band is still turning out fantastic music.

The latest album, “Before Breakfast,” hits record bins on Sept. 1.

And it ranks among the band’s best.

The album leads off with “Sleepin’ With The Reaper,” a song about a woman who tells her husband on their wedding day that death is the only way they’ll part. So, you know somebody’s gonna die.

Bill Anderson and Jon Randall’s “Demons,” says that once you’ve met the Devil, he’ll never leave you alone.

“Delia” sounds like a dance tune that came from a holler in the depths of Appalachia centuries ago, But it’s modern.

“I’m Been Redeemed” and Flatt & Scruggs’ “He Took Your Place” are great gospel songs.

“Lonesome” is a song about, well, being lonesome.

“Beer Tree” and “Clear Corn Liquor” are fun songs about drinking.

Webb Pierce’s “Pathway of Teardrops,” a 1960 hit, features some great harmony.

Good album by one of bluegrass’ best bands.

Can’t find it in stores? Try around Sept. 1.

THE GRASCALS, “And then there’s this…,” Mountain Home. 12 tracks

December 14, 2015

It’s been nearly 11 years since The Grascals’ debut album, back when the band was touring with Dolly Parton.

Since then, the band has been named entertainer of the year twice by the International Bluegrass Music Association and been nominated for three Grammys.

One of the founding members, Jamie Johnson, left last year and John Bryan replaced him on guitar and vocals.

The latest album, “And then there’s this…” hits record bins on Jan. 8.

And it’s the same quality that fans have come to expect.

There’s nothing the caliber of Harley Allen‘s “Me and John and Paul,” the standout piece from that first album.

But it’s still a solid album.

“Old Friend of Mine” tells the story of two childhood friends who have drifted apart getting together at a funeral. But whose funeral is the surprise.

“A Place To Hang My Hat” is about a man who is just passing through life on his way to heaven.

“I Know Better” is a hard-driving song about a man wanting to call the woman he loves, even though they are no longer together — but knowing he shouldn’t.

“I Like Trains” is a song about a man who grew up wanting to ride trains and now spends a lot of time on them.

“If You Want Me To” finds the singer ready to leave if she wants him to, but he’d rather stay with her.

“Autumn Glen” is a bouncy instrumental.

And there’s one song from Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass — “Highway of Sorrow.”

Another good album by a great band.

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DANNY ROBERTS, “Nighthawk,” Mountain Home. 13 tracks.

May 5, 2014

It might seem strange, but the mandolin wasn’t Danny Roberts‘ first instrument.

His biography says the Leitchfield, Ky., native started playing guitar at age 13 and mandolin when he was 20.

But the mandolin is the instrument that made Roberts’ name in bluegrass as a member of New Tradition, Dolly Parton‘s band and The Grascals.

“Nighthawk,” his second solo album, hits streets on May 20.

It’s a blend of bluegrass, swing and newgrass — including 10 instrumentals written by Roberts.

His wife, Andrea, a former member of Petticoat Junction and Special Consensus, adds vocals to the gospel number, “I Went Down A Beggar (But I Came Up A Millionaire)” and his 12-year-old daughter, Jaelee Roberts, makes her debut singing, “Oh, Atlanta,” (a Bad Company song covered in bluegrass by Alison Krauss) and the gospel classic “How Great Thou Art.”

Expect to hear more from her in the future.

Also joining Roberts on the album are Kristin Scott Benson, Tim Surrett, Adam Haynes, Ronnie McCoury, Sam Bush, Jimmy Mattingly, Tony Wray, Mike Compton, Paul Harrigill and Dominic Illingworth.

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THE GRASCALS, “When I Get My Pay,” Mountain Home. 13 tracks.

November 25, 2013

The Grascals have racked up three Grammy nominations and a lot of bluegrass hits since 2005.

And “When I Get My Pay,” their eighth album, which was just released on the Mountain Home label, shows that the band isn’t yet resting on its laurels.

Harley Allen’s “Two Boys On A Dirt Road,” the story of two childhood friends slowly drifting apart, is reminiscent of his “Me and John and Paul,” the Grascals’ first big hit from eight years ago.

Country star Dierks Bentley joins the band on “American Pickers,” a tribute to the History Channel reality series.

The album is a good blend of ballads and uptempo songs, like the title cut about working hard every day and making too little money to pay the bills.

“Are You Up For Getting Down Tonight” is a ballad about going out to dance the blues away.

“Bluegrass Melodies,” an old Osborne Brothers song, sounds eerily like the Osbornes. But that’s because lead singers Jamie Johnson and Terry Eldredge are big Osborne Brothers fans — and Eldredge and Terry Smith are former members of the Osbornes’ band.

“When Your Rock Turns to Stone” is about a woman whose love has turned to ice because her man treated her wrong.

“Silver Strands” is a ballad about a couple who fell in love in their teens and are still in love 50 years later.

Good album by a great bluegrass band.

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THE GRASCALS & FRIENDS, “Country Classics With A Bluegrass Spin,” BluGrascal Records. 13 tracks.

January 3, 2011

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is known for a lot more than food these days.

Since 2003, the 597-store chain of country-style restaurants in 42 states has been featuring bluegrass albums recorded expressly for sale in its stores.

Last year, Dailey & Vincent, the hottest act in bluegrass, recorded “Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers,” one of the year’s top albums, for Cracker Barrel.

And on Jan. 10, the stores will begin selling The Grascals’ latest collection, which features an all-star country lineup of guest vocalists.

In recent years, bluegrass has been moving closer to traditional country music and that’s understandable since it was once part of country music.

But the title, “Country Classics With A Bluegrass Spin,” is somewhat misleading.

The album is more country than bluegrass with electric guitars, steel guitars, drums and piano. But it’s still an album bluegrass fans with country leanings will want to check out.

Brad Paisley joins The Grascals on Buck Owens’ “Tiger By The Tail,” Dierks Bentley fills in for Johnny Cash on “Folsom Prison Blues,” Darryl Worley takes over for George Jones on “White Lightning” and Joe Nichols substitutes for Jerry Jeff Walker on “Mr. Bojangles.”

Tom T. Hall joins the band on his “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died,” Charlie Daniels adds his vocals to his classic “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” and the Oak Ridge Boys recreate their “Leavin’ Louisiana In Broad Daylight.”

Dolly Parton sings “Pain of Lovin’ You,” one of her old duets with Porter Wagoner, with The Grascals as well as the new “I Am Strong,” a song written by band member Jamie Johnson, his wife, Susanne Mumpower-Johnson, and their friend Jenee Fleenor.

The song was inspired by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A second version of the song included as a bonus track features an all-star cast of Parton, The Oaks, Worley, Daniels, Terri Clark, Randy Owens, Steven Seagal, Hall, Nichols and Ansley McLaurin.

 Cracker Barrel is donating a portion of the proceeds from the album sales to St. Jude’s.

Only three songs feature The Grascals with no guests — “Louisiana Saturday Night,” a “Born To Boogie/All My Rowdy Friends Are Comin’ Over Tonight” medley and the instrumental “Cracker Barrel Swing.”

It’s only available in Cracker Barrel stores and

Best Bluegrass Albums of 2010

December 20, 2010

New groups, veterans, country singers coming home and acts in their prime all turned out some of the best bluegrass of 2010.

Here are my picks for the Ten Best Bluegrass Albums of 2010:

10. THE BOXCARS, “The Boxcars,” Mountain Home Records. 13 tracks.

The Boxcars are a new group with a veteran lineup.

When they call them a supergroup, they’re not kidding.

Just look at their credentials.

Adam Steffey and John Bowman once played with Alison Krauss & Union Station.

Ron Stewart, Harold Nixon and Bowman are graduates of J.D. Crowe & The New South.

Keith Garrett and Nixon were members of Blue Moon Rising.

And Steffey and Stewart were in The Dan Tyminski Band.

The band’s sound leans toward the country side of bluegrass — a reminder that there was a time when bluegrass was part of country music

9. BALSAM RANGE, “Trains I Missed,” Mountain Home Music. 12 tracks

Balsam Range melds country, gospel, bluegrass and old English ballads into a sound that is both traditional and contemporary.

 Having four lead singers — and two writers on this project — shows the band’s depth.

And “Trains I Missed” shows why bluegrass fans should pay attention to Balsam Range.

8. RANDY KOHRS, “Quicksand,” Rural Rhythm. 13 tracks.

Randy Kohrs’ resophonic guitar has appeared on more than 500 CDs, but he’s a lot more than a sideman.

He’s also a first-class singer-songwriter. He co-wrote five of the songs on this album.

“Quicksand” is classified as an acoustic album, rather than bluegrass, because it pushes boundaries.
And it pushes them in an exciting way.

7. CHRIS HILLMAN AND HERB PEDERSEN, “At Edwards Barn,” Rounder. 15 tracks.

Most musicians can only dream of careers like Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen have had.

Hillman, 65, who got his start in the California-based Scottsville Squirrel Barkers as a teenager, went on to make music history with The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas and The Desert Rose Band.

Pedersen, 66, played in the Pine Valley Ramblers, the Dillards, The Desert Rose Band and the Laurel Canyon Ramblers, contributed music to several TV shows and movies, and performed on a number of albums by other artists.

The 15 songs on the album are really a career retrospective done bluegrass style.

6. THE STEELDRIVERS, “Reckless,” Rounder Records. 12 tracks.

The SteelDrivers roared out of Nashville in 2008 with a sound that’s best described as “outlaw grass.”

The band had a sound that ranged from high-lonesome to low-down blues — often in the same song.

They mixed a rock attitude with some Delta blues, gospel and country, but kept it all within the framework of bluegrass.

High tenor vocals were replaced with Chris Stapleton’s rough-hewn growls and wails.

But it’s the last album with the original lineup.

And that’s a reason for fans to check it out.

5. THE GRASCALS, “The Famous Lefty Flynn’s,” Rounder. 12 tracks.

The Grascals burst on the bluegrass scene in 2005 with a self-titled album featuring Dolly Parton on a grassed-up version of Elvis’ “Viva Las Vegas.”

It made a splash, earning the band “emerging artist of the year” honors from the International Bluegrass Music Association and a Grammy nomination.

The Grascals went on to win entertainer of the year honors from the IBMA in both 2006 and 2007. And they picked up another Grammy nomination for 2006’s “Long List of Heartaches.”

A resume like that leaves a band room to coast for a few years.

But The Grascals are still taking chances, trying new things while sticking to the sound that brought them fans and honors.

“Lefty Flynn’s” is a bluegrass album with a country edge. It features steel guitars on three tracks, drums, a mandola and a viola — instruments not typically found on bluegrass albums.

4. JOSH WILLIAMS, “Down Home,” Pinecastle. 12 tracks.

Back in 1993, Pete “Dr. Banjo” Wernick put together a band he called the Bluegrass Youth All-Stars to perform at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards show at the  RiverPark Center in Owensboro, Ky.

The band — which would make a great supergroup today — consisted of Michael Cleveland on fiddle, Josh Williams on banjo,  Chris Thile on mandolin, Cody Kilby on guitar and Brady Stogdill on bass.

Williams went on to work in the Special Consensus and Rhonda Vincent’s band, The Rage.

Now, he’s on his own with his first solo album since “Lonesome Highway,” which made several “best of” lists back in 2004.

His tenor/baritone vocals rank him among the top male singers in the genre as well. He really shines on lonesome ballads.

3. DON RIGSBY & MIDNIGHT CALL, “The Voice of God,” Rebel. 14 tracks.

Too many bluegrass gospel albums fail to challenge listeners.

They stick with the tried and true songs and sounds.

But Rigsby presents story songs that make you think about the message.

The album’s highlight is “Harmonica” Phil Wiggins’ “Forgiveness,” a powerful blending of bluegrass and blues in a duet with blues singer and slide guitarist Rory Block on a song about cocaine, whiskey and salvation.

At 42, Rigsby is just coming into his own as a solo artist.

2. DAILEY & VINCENT, “Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers,” Rounder/Cracker Barrel. 12 tracks

The Statler Brothers hit the road with Johnny Cash in 1964 and racked up 33 Top 10 country singles before their retirement in 2002.

In January 1966, their “Flowers on the Wall,” climbed to No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (pop) charts.

The Statlers have been retired for eight years.

But Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent — the hottest act in bluegrass music as the second decade of the 21st century begins — are counted among their rabid fans and saluted them with this outstanding collection of Statler Brothers songs available in Cracker Barrel stores.

1, JOE DIFFIE, “Homecoming: The Bluegrass Album,” Rounder. 12 tracks.

The only thing you can say about an album like this is: Wow, what took so long?

This is the album Joe Diffie was born to make. His voice isn’t high, but voices don’t come more lonesome than his.

“Homecoming” — a title that refers to his return to bluegrass where he started his career with the Oklahoma-based The Special Edition — is finally the album that bluegrass fans have waited years for.

And it’s definitely worth the wait.

VARIOUS ARTISTS, “Bluegrass Number One Hits,” Rounder. 12 tracks.

December 6, 2010

If you’re looking for a sampler to decide if you or someone on your Christmas list really likes bluegrass music, here’s a good one.

You get a pair of hard-charging songs — “Sweet Carrie” and “Head Hung Down” — by Dailey & Vincent, the International Bluegrass Music Association’s entertainers of the year for the past three years.

The Grascals — entertainers of the year in 2006 and 2007 — contribute “Long List of Heartaches” and “Me And John And Paul,” the 2005 song of the year.

Blue Highway adds “Through The Window Of A Train,” the 2008 song of the year.

Hall of Famer J.D. Crowe and his New South are featured on “Lefty’s Old Guitar.”

Rhonda Vincent, seven-time female vocalist of the year, performs “Kentucky Borderline,” the 2004 song of the year.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the seven-time vocal group of the year, are featured on “Sadie’s Got Her New Dress On.”

Dan Tyminski, the 2009 male vocalist of the year and a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station, sings lead on “Rain Please Go Away” and “Wheels.”

Claire Lynch, the 2010 female vocalist of the year, is featured on “Train Long Gone.”

And Charlie Sizemore pays a comical tribute to Krauss and Union Station with his “Alison’s Band.”

When it comes to bluegrass samplers, you won’t find one much better than this.

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