more than any other bluegrass band in memory, understand that making music
professionally IS a business, and strategic partnerships are part of being
successful in this business. On The Grascals + Friends they partner with
some of the biggest names in country music, plus Cracker Barrel, the exclusive
retail outlet for the CD.
Although the Grascals are known as a bluegrass
band, the music here is far more acoustic and electric country than bluegrass.
Musical partners include Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley, Dolly Parton, Tom T.
Hall, Darryl Worley, Charlie Daniels, The Oak Ridge Boys, Joe Nichols, and Hank
Williams Jr. The song selections are pretty standard fare – "Folsom Prison
Blues," "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," "Mr. Bojangles," "Louisiana Saturday Night," and
"Tiger By The Tail" are some of the old
standards that populate the album. Given the program material, this could have
been a boring album, but the Grascals' superb musicianship and good taste
elevates even the most hackneyed tune to ear-worthiness. "Mr. Bojangles,"
for instance, which has been covered so many times that it resembles an
overstuffed chair, comes to life due to Danny Roberts mandolin, Jeremy
Abshire's fiddle, and the spot-on three part harmonies. Brad Paisley's
guitar solos on "Tiger By The Tail" would make Don Rich smile and Dierks
Bentley's lead vocals on "Folsom Prison Blues" may not supplant Johnny
Cash's but they are still mighty fine.
For the Grascals' hardcore bluegrass fans they
include one original instrumental written by Danny Roberts and Terry Smith
called "Cracker Barrel Swing" that reminds me of some of the instrumentals
on Roberts' superb solo album Mandolin Orchard.
Next time you're in a Cracker Barrel restaurant
forego the fudge at the front counter in favor of The Grascals + Friends.
It has lower calories yet is twice as fulfilling.