When they seize the stage tomorrow night, the Grascals will show Toledo how much fun six talented friends can have with their high-energy bluegrass/country blend.
"People who love the music they're playing and who love each other. Joking and laughing," says Terry Eldredge, guitarist and lead singer for the award-rich Grascals.
"That's one thing Dolly [Parton] told us backstage, 'Remember boys, have fun with it, because if it's not fun, it's work, and work is a four-letter word.'•"
The Grascals will perform at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College.
Known for tight, three-part harmonies, The Grascals, aged 27 to 48, played the Grand Ole Opry 23 times last year (they also played last week) and gave 120 concerts on the road. They were named 2010's best bluegrass band by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America, and entertainer of the year in 2006 and 2007 by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
And it was none other than Dolly Parton who gave these skilled Nashville musicians a boost in 2004.
"It just happened we were all kind of unemployed at the same time, so why not start a band?" Eldredge said last week in a telephone interview.
He and some of the current band members knew each other from years of making Nashville's brightest stars sound great in concert and on recordings. They'd worked for the likes of Parton, Garth Brooks, the Osborne Brothers, Brooks & Dunn, and Steve Wariner.
Seventeen years ago, he and bassist Terry Smith assembled The Sidemen for a standing Tuesday night gig at Nashville's legendary Station Inn.
"We were all sidemen in other bands," Eldredge says.
For years, many a musician sat in on their Tuesday sessions, including current members Danny Roberts (mandolin), Jamie Johnson (guitar), and Kristen Scott Benson (banjo). "I'm not sure about Jeremy [Abshire]," Eldredge says of the Grascals' fiddler.
In 2004, they had recorded three songs for a first CD and were mixing in the studio when Parton came in to do some recording herself. She asked to hear their new tunes.
"She said, 'That's great. I want you guys to be the opening act and to be part of our band,'•" he says. "We did 45 days with her over six months and we recorded with her."
Their own records often include compositions by band members, cover tunes, and new songs by composers from across the country. "We might listen to 500 or 600 songs before choosing some. You wouldn't believe how many great songs we pass up just because they don't fit our sound."
Their fourth CD, "The Famous Lefty Flynn's," will be released March 30.
The Grascals will play at 8 p.m. tomorrow in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College, 30335 Oregon Rd., Perrysburg. Cash bar at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $24 and $26 and can be purchased at the door and online at owens.tix.com. Information: 567-661-2787.
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