Monday, October 02, 2006

Real Nashville Cats -- ROWR, Baby

Where to start the IBMA FanFest report? How about at the very top?

Meet The Grascals.

It’s a great story. These six guys all made their living out of being sidemen for the greats. One day, they decided to take a chance and make their own music. Next thing they know, they’re the IBMA Entertainer of the Year.

Ok, it wasn’t quite that easy, but these cats were so doggone happy you’d think it was.

I’ve never seen such a generously grateful bunch of musicians. These guys have worked hard and played a long road, and it has paid off. Lead vocalist and six-string lefthander Jamie Johnson absolutely beamed through their entire Saturday night set. And they had come in from the Opry show, played their set, and had to be back out for more time on the Opry stage. But what a night for this band a long time coming.

Now, Nashville is a really great town. It’s not expensive to live there – well, except for that terrifically regressive food tax thing -- and if you love music, any kind of music, it’s hard to beat the musicians-per-capita ratio. But it’s also a terribly tough town, especially if you’re a musician in that musicians-per-capita ratio in a relatively small US city. It’s nothing if not the land of hard work, lucky breaks, and sponsors. A young mando player I know from Kent who used to live in Nashville with his parents and sister made a living working at a restaurant, and would bring home one plate of food for four people to share. The shine wears off pretty quick under those more usual conditions.

I thought about this as I strolled through the showcases at IBMA. This kid’s family explained that sure, you can get on the showcase stage, but you gotta foot your own bill and sleep in the bus. And so it was that I wised up. Sure, IBMA is a nonprofit organization and I don’t know nothing if I don’t know what that’s all about, but boy howdy.

So that’s the tip of the iceberg over which The Grascals scraped their darling bottoms to get to the top. And the top of the bluegrass heap is not saying a whole lot, if you know anybody who tries to make a living at it.

But it sure is fun. And that’s The Grascals.

Not convinced? Head on over to their Website and give them a listen. Even better, I see they're at the Station Inn this New Year's Eve. Now, that's enough to give a girl ideas right there. Who's with me? Rowr....

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