Black Music Matters Festival

The Grascals

The Grascals – 2005 (Rounder)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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While The Grascals are just starting to develop a name in bluegrass circles, this new supergroup is made up of heavyweight bluegrass and country veterans.

Jimmy Mattingly cut his teeth as Garth Brooks' fiddler. Banjoist David Talbot and bassist Terry Eldredge, who handles the primary vocal chores, most recently were members of Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time. Bluegrass veterans Danny Roberts, Jamie Johnson and Terry Smith round out The Grascals and also carry impressive resumes. The music and arrangements tend to run on the lighter side of bluegrass. In fact, most of the tunes - including standards like "Teardrops in My Eyes" and the Osborne Brothers' "Leavin's Heavy on My Mind" - have this sort of pop-grass feel to them.

The musicianship and vocals are impressive - tightly wound and compact. There's no filler or fluff; each fiddle or banjo lick has a sense of purpose.

It is the essence of a group, where the sum of the parts make it work so well. The Grascals obviously understand that, and they execute it flawlessly.