Since the music's earliest days, regret for leaving the childhood home and a longing to return have been among the most durable themes in bluegrass. From "The Fields Have Turned Brown" to "Old Home Place" and beyond, generations of songwriters and musicians have contrasted cold, uncaring city life to rural family traditions, sometimes in mournful laments and sometimes through deceptively up-tempo sounds. Now, with the release of "Sleepy Little Town," award-winning sextet, The Grascals, are writing a new chapter in this long-running bluegrass story.
Co-written by IBMA Songwriter of the Year, Jerry Salley, "Sleepy Little Town" serves up its tale through distinctive melodic lines and phrases, as its narrator recalls "Dad's old John Deere, cranking up at the crack of morning light," gets family news in a conversation with his mother, and compares these touches of familiar life to a place where "the rats are winning the race." "I'd give anything to wake up in that sleepy little town," lead vocalist (and the newest Grascal) Chris Davis sings, as the song slides seamlessly from a half-time pre-chorus into a lush, harmony-rich chorus.
As they always do, The Grascals have created an arrangement that places the song and its message front and center, offering instrumental support that works this time out through deft, sympathetic touches rather than more conventional solos.
"When we came to cutting 'Sleepy Little Town,'" Davis notes, "It was an easy pick. We instantly fell in love with both the melody and the lyrics. I left home at 18 myself, and I learned early on just how easy I had it with mom and dad. I know we all, at one point or another, wish we could go back to that 'Sleepy Little Town.'"
About The Grascals
Great musicians will always find a way to make good music, but for great musicians to make great music, they must form a bond - one that, more often than not, goes beyond the purely musical to the personal. For The Grascals, that bond has been forged at the intersection of personal friendships, shared professional resumes and an appreciation for the innovative mingling of bluegrass and country music that has been a hallmark of the Nashville scene for more than forty years.
Their cutting-edge modern bluegrass is delivered with a deep knowledge of, and admiration for, the work of the music's founding fathers. Timely yet timeless, The Grascals make music that is entirely relevant to the here and now, yet immersed in traditional values of soul and musicianship. It's a unique sound that has earned three Grammy® nominations and two Entertainer of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, as well as national media attention that seems to perpetually elude acts entrenched in niche genres. Such appearances include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Fox & Friends, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and CBS' The Talk. All the while, stages that represent the strongest bastions of tradition continually welcome them, as evidenced by the over 150 performances on the Grand Ole Opry. Honors also include performing twice for President George W. Bush and at President Barack Obama's inaugural ball at the Smithsonian.
As their records prove, The Grascals' rare musical empathy gives them an unerring ear for just the right touch to illuminate each offering's deepest spirit - whether they're digging into one of their original songs or reworking a bluegrass classic or a pop standard. Take for instance, fan favorite, "Last Train to Clarksville." Non-bluegrass listeners enjoy a new take on a familiar song, while diehard bluegrass audiences who may have never heard the Monkees classic, respond in-kind, not even realizing that the song has been Grascalized.