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Around Our Town...Music to My Ears

The Grascals: Self-titled

08/01/2005 - We all have a place we go to when things are tough. A sort of default setting. A mental sweet spot that gets us through. Actually, I have a whole lot of them, and I spend a fair amount of time visiting my happy places. That would explain the glassy, vacant look in my eyes when you greet me, along with the drool that...well, anyway, I go away mentally a lot. You get the idea. Anyhow, I find it fascinating how no matter where I find myself on these little imaginary vacations, there is always music playing. Sort of like a soundtrack to my daydreams, I guess. It is equally fascinating to me that this music is always bluegrass. Alright, I realize I've used the word fascinating twice in reference to my mental process, but then I find myself fascinating on so many levels, as I'm confident you would if only you had the chance to meet me. Those who do actually know me are probably throwing up right about now, but I digress.

Back to bluegrass. Wait, were we ever there? Anyhow, the Grascals are a bluegrass band. That is to say that they play such instruments as the banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and bass, and that they sing about mountains, cabins, trees, and...did I mention mountains? They sing these songs with tight, high harmony, and great enthusiam. They wear overalls and have long beards and floppy hats. Very few teeth. Naw, just kidding. The Grascals are a bunch of friends who have spent a good deal of time playing for other people, then decided to get together and make their own music. I'm glad they did. Their self-titled debut album is a very solid representation of what bluegrass is and was all about. Old school and new are melded together into a seemless example of great American acoustic music. In addition to a smattering of old bluegrass standards, the Grascals cover Travis Tritt's "Where Corn Don't Grow," which, in addition to being a great song, is a grammatical trainwreck. They also lay down a smoking version of "Viva Las Vegas." I wanted to put an exclamation point after that last sentence, in order to convey a sense of increduality, but I didn't.

If you're one of the billions of people on this planet who wish they could start listening to bluegrass, but are afraid to because you just don't know where to start, you may want to run down to the place where you buy music and pick this one up. Don't let your fear conquer you. Rise up. Be strong. And when the clerk raises a questioning eyebrow when they slide your Grascals disc across the scanner, look them in the eye and smile confidently. Yes, you are buying bluegrass. No, you didn't mean to select a Hanson, Village People, Milli Vanilli, or Liberace album. Wink knowingly at the clerk as you walk briskly toward the door. Why briskly? Why are you in a hurry to leave? It's not because you are ashamed, but because you can not wait to slide your shiny new Grascals disc into the slot on your dash and enter into your happy place. Buy this disc and join me in shouting our musical message from the rooftops, my friends. Bluegrass Rules! Let your freak flag fly, people!

Oh, one more thing. Just for fun, the next time some kid driving an economy car with speakers the size of pianos in it pulls up next to you blasting some potty-mouthed rap stuff, smile smugly, roll down your windows, and crank up the GRASS, Baby! the kid will turn down his stereo to hear what you are listening to, then drive away with a confused, bewildered look on his acne-riddled face. Hah!

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