Daniel Grindstaff – Heroes and Friends

Since he was just eighteen years old, Daniel Grindstaff has played banjo for numerous top acts in bluegrass music, including Jim & Jesse, Bobby Osborne, Marty Raybon, and David Davis among others. On the aptly named, Heroes and Friends, Grindstaff has surrounded himself with first rate pickers and singers for a collection of his own original tunes and interpretations of his favorite songs, all with an eye towards those he has looked up to in music.

The album kicks off with Finnland, a tune which Daniel named after his son, Finn. Played in the spirit of the great old time fiddle/banjo combination, this track features Andy Leftwich on fiddle along with Jesse Brock on mandolin, Trey Hensley on guitar, and Kent Blanton on bass.

Forever Young is one of several highlights of this project. Taken from the repertoire of Rod Stewart, this track features incredible vocals from Paul Brewster and Dolly Parton. Along with Grindstaff on banjo and harmony vocals, instrumental support is provided by Leftwich on mandolin, Hensley on guitar, Blanton on bass, as well as Josh Swift on resophonic guitar and percussion, Stephen Burwell on fiddle, and Derek Deakins as the string section.

Colleen Malone should be familiar to most bluegrass fans as it’s been performed by both Larry Sparks and Hot Rize. Grindstaff’s rendition features Rickey Wasson on lead vocals. This performance also contains strong mandolin work from Doyle Lawson and captivating harmony vocals from Jeff Parker.

My Last Old Dollar is a driving track that’ll definitely appeal to fans of hardcore traditional bluegrass. Featuring Kevin Richardson on lead vocals, this song will grab you from the minute you hear the twin fiddles of Stephen Burwell and Derek Deakins. This track also features strong vocal work from Shawn Lane.

Much like the albums opener, Three Arrows is a tune written for Grindstaff’s sons, Owen and Finn. It also serves as the symbol for Down Syndrome, a genetic disorder caused by an extra chromosome. This straightforward piece serves as a fitting conclusion to this album.

No one summed up Daniel’s musicianship better than Jim Mills, who had this to say prior to his untimely passing:

“I had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Grindstaff backstage at the Grand Ole Opry when he was only 18 years old, he was playing banjo for the legendary group Jim and Jesse & the Virginia Boys. First of all, to be working in a band who are Grand Ole Opry members at that age is a huge accomplishment in itself, but I looked past his young age and saw and heard a young man far beyond his years both as a musician and as a gentleman. I am proud to call him friend and know you’ll greatly enjoy this recording.”

Heroes and Friends is a stellar release. It captures Grindstaff in his element as both a banjo player and solid supporting musician.

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About the Author

Braeden Paul

Braeden Paul has been involved in various capacities of bluegrass music. A Texas native, Paul has been part of several Dallas-based bands as a mandolinist. He also serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Bluegrass Club in Grapevine, TX. As a writer, Braeden has also contributed numerous music reviews to the Bluegrass Society of America Facebook page, and is the co-author of Texas Bluegrass History: High Lonesome on the High Plains.