The Grascals

The Grascals + Friends
Cracker Barrell Records
The Grascals

The Grascals understand that making music professionally is a business, and strategic partnerships are part of being successful. On The Grascals + Friends they partner with some of the biggest names in country music.

Though known as a bluegrass band, the music here is more acoustic and electric country; 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 standard fare – “Folsom Prison Blues,” “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Mr. Bojangles,” “Louisiana Saturday Night,” and “Tiger By The Tail.”

Given the material, this could be a boring album. But the Grascals’ superb musicianship and taste elevates even the most hackneyed tune to earworthiness. “Mr. Bojangles” comes to life thanks to Danny Roberts’ mandolin, Jeremy Abshire’s fiddle, and spot-on three-part harmonies. Paisley’s guitar solos on “Tiger By The Tail” would make Don Rich smile, and while Dierks Bentley’s vocals on “Folsom Prison Blues” may not supplant those of Johnny Cash, they are mighty fine. 

For hardcore bluegrass fans, the original instrumental “Cracker Barrel Swing” is reminscent 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!

This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’11 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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