Black Music Matters Festival

The Grascals

Long List of Heartaches – 2006 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Tim FitzPatrick

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The Grascals have certainly hit the ground running. They have won two IBMA awards for their 2005 debut recording and performed with country heavyweights Dolly Parton and Brooks & Dunn.

On their second release, they continue to make country-influenced bluegrass. "Don't Tell Mama" is a weeper with a recitation by George Jones. "Keep Me from Blowing Away" is a sensitive rendition of the Paul Craft song. "My Night to Howl" and "Hoedown in Motown" are both good fun, even though the latter has some cringe worthy lyrics. Guitarists Terry Eldredge and Jamie Johnson share the lead vocals. Singing in the traditional bluegrass register, they tend toward a less strident style.

While the overall sound is smooth, The Grascals have definite punch. Danny Roberts (mandolin), David Talbot (banjo) and Jimmy Mattingly (fiddle) trade dynamic solos over Terry Smith's bass lines as they bounce through the title track and burn through the classics "Will You Be Loving Another Man" and "Roll Muddy River."

Some bluegrass fans point to a divide between commercial country music and its acoustic roots. If there is such a space, it's one in which The Grascals thrive.