One of Virginia’s rising new bluegrass bands, Josh Grigsby and County Line were the winners of the 2015 VFMA Bluegrass Band Championship and 2014 East Coast Bluegrass Band competition at the Bluegrass by the Bay. The band plays traditional, contemporary, original and gospel bluegrass music.
Lead singer, Josh Grigsby grew up in King George, which is the gateway to the Northern Neck. His bluegrass influences came at an early age. His father, James Û÷BubbyÛª Grigsby, would always have bluegrass greats on the stereo such as Flat and Scruggs, and Reno and Smiley and the County Gentlemen to name a few. Josh grew to love this music, but also was influenced by country music greats such as Vince Gill, Don Williams, and the country music icons of the 80Ûªs and 90Ûªs. Josh started singing by the time he was two to family and churches, and later at local establishments that offered live music and karaoke. He became a crowd favorite at DonkÛªs Theater in Mathews, Virginia singing county music at the venue. Josh started going to bluegrass jams in the area and folks encouraged him to start a band, which is where Josh Grigsby and County Line began in 2013. The band became very popular on the local music scene. Josh’s tenor voice is what draws folks to his shows. Josh enjoys people, and is just and all around good olÛª county boy. So if you are ever at a show, make sure to shake and howdy with him.
Judge Parker, originally from Henry County, Georgia, now calls Short Pump, Virginia home. He provides banjo and vocals for JGCL. Judge’s early musical influences were rock and roll and rockabilly. He was introduced to the banjo in college. After school and a couple of false starts at a real job, Judge began a pursuit of music and was a professional musician from 1974 to 1983. He began his career with “Nickel Ticket” an Atlanta band after which he co founded the “Saturday Session Band”, a successful local Georgia group that opened for or shared venues with such bands as the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Doug Kershaw, the Earl Scruggs Review, Ray Stevens & others. Saturday Session was honored to be invited to play at the National Visitors Center in Washington DC for Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Inaugural ceremonies. Along with partners, the band also opened the “Blue Eagle”, a music hall and tavern in Sandy Springs, Ga. Later, the “Judge Parker Band” (no connection to the current band by that name) performed briefly as the back-up band for Ben Jones (Cooter of the “Dukes of Hazard”). He was voted Atlanta’s Best Banjo Player by readers of Atlanta Magazine in 1978. Judge also played “the banjo player” in the 1977 Columbia Pictures movie “The Farmer”. Shortly after the birth of his son in 1982, Judge chose to leave music to pursue a career in business that would allow him more time with his new family. After a 30 year layoff, he has recently renewed his interest in music and is having “more fun than he can stand” being a part of JGCL.
Robert Kidd, from Mechanicsville VA plays bass for Josh Grigsby and County Line. His major musical influence were local musicians Brian Sulser, who mentored him and inspired him to play Û÷better bassÛª. Another local musician who made a big difference in his playing was Bob Payne who worked with Bob to perfect his trade. It is evident in his playing. As a youngster, Bob would sit on his daddyÛªs lap and play guitar with him as he played Hank Williams songs. In 1966, he pursued his love for music, playing bass in a rock & roll band. The band ended in 1967. Bob took a hiatus from playing and did not play bass again until 2004. He was soon hired by Flatland Bluegrass Band. He played with them for a year and a half. Afterwards, he helped form Willow Creek Band, and little later he joined Easy Street band. Robert enjoys all types of bass and also played with a 30 and 40s swing band, a Pack of Luckies for several years. Bob, along with his friend George Winn were in the documentary ÛÏStrumming up the Past: Henrico’s Bluegrass Music.
Chris Westcott from Fredericksburg, Virginia, provides lead guitar and vocals for JGCL. His early musical influences were surf music, folk, and folk-rock, but later his musical taste switched to southern rock, bluegrass and classic country. Chris taught himself guitar beginning at age 13 while in Southern California. Later in life became involved with church/gospel music playing at a number of regional revivals as guitarist for the gospel trio A Wing and A Prayer and later became Guitarist for the bluegrass band Flatrun Ramblers out of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Chris has been with Josh Grigsby and County Line since the band was formed and is an important part to the bandÛªs popularity and success. His beautiful guitar playing adds a little bit of county/bluegrass mix to the bandÛªs sound. Chris is a retired teacher/principal from Spotsylvania County, Virginia.
Frankie Ballowe, A native of Scottsville, Va, now residing in Mechanicsville Virginia plays mandolin for JGCL. As a young boy of 7 years of age he was given his first mandolin by his Uncle, Athel Ballowe. Frankie remembers his Great Uncle Robert Duncan, his Uncle Athel and his Daddy, picking for hours on the front porch at Uncle Roberts house. He wanted to get in on the action, so that’s how he got started picking the mandolin. In the summer time the Bevins Family from Ticondaroga, NY would come to their house out in the country, stay all week and pick bluegrass music literally all night, most every night. They had a time! Not too many folks can say they got to hang out with Dan Tyminski in their Mommas Kitchen as a kid. He was their Banjo picker back then and his brother Stan tore it up on a flattop as well. It is one of the highlights of Frankie’s childhood. A lot of great, bluegrass, pickers, came through his Mammas’ kitchen over the years. He feels extremely blessed to have known and met each and every one of these folks along the way .
Harmony vocalist, Crystal Grigsby, began singing with Josh at church. They both had a great love for music and spent many hours singing and playing music together, as well as writing songs. She loves adding harmonies to his beautiful tenor voice and enjoys being by his side in this musical journey as a member of Josh Grigsby and County Line.
CrystalÛªs early influences came from her mom and aunts who sang in churches and on the radio when they were younger. Crystal began singing in local churchÛªs with her sister in law and niece in the 1990Ûªs adding harmonies to the group ‘The PrestonÛªs’.
She loves all types of music, but has a special place in her heart for bluegrass because of its honest, American roots, and having a family that is from SW Virginia, home of Appalachia style music, where many bluegrass greats were born such as Ralph Stanley and Bill Harrell. Her first taste of bluegrass was Bill Harrell, who she claims as her first bluegrass Û÷loveÛª. She was hooked on the music and now finds it hard to pinpoint a favorite. ÛÏThere is so much talent and so many good songs, it really is hard to pick a favoriteÛ she says. ÛÏYou will not find any better musicians and just plain out great folks than in the circle of Û÷blueÛª.Û Crystal attributes the success of the band to God and is thankful for the opportunities He has provided JGCL over the past couple of years.
The band has just released their first CD “Changes in the Tide”. The title song was written for Josh’s late father who was a waterman in the Northern Neck of Virginia.
Currently, the band is working on their second release, titled Ruby Lane Memories, with the title cut being an original written by Crystal Grigsby.