Many bluegrass bands today strive to find a sound somewhere between traditional and contemporary, looking toward the past while still managing to provide fresh material for modern audiences. A new band with that mix of contemporary and traditional sound is Grassville, a four-piece group from just outside Atlanta. They have recently released their first album, a ten-song collection entitled Lonely Tonight.
The album is almost entirely original, with the exception of How Long Have I Been Waiting and Down the Line. How Long Have I Been Waiting has been slowed down from the familiar Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver version, giving it a sweeter feel (particularly with the added fiddle intro). Down the Line is one of the fastest songs here, rendered very similarly to the Lonesome River Band’s 2002 cut of the tune. This rambler’s lament is one of the album’s most enjoyable tracks.
The majority of the album’s original tunes are mid-tempo and hit on the standard bluegrass themes: leaving, losing, and loving. The opening track, Ride, has a somewhat ominous feel and finds the singer leaving town with a lawman on his trail. Lonely Tonight has a similar set-up and sound to How Long Have I Been Waiting, and shares the pain of a man who can’t let go of a cheating woman. Moving On is a slow, country-influenced Gospel song about letting God help you forget the past, even if you’re not sure where He may guide you next. The Raid tells the story of an unexpected visit from revenuers to a moonshiner’s house. The almost chanted vocals give the song a humorous and fun feel.
Two original instrumentals are also included, both with titles that fit them well. When Midnight Falls is dark and urgent, while The Journey brings to mind a long, lonesome ride. It seems to serve as an intro to the next tune on the album (Black Ops, named for a game in the popular Call of Duty series).
Band members John Nipper (bass), Aaron Clegg (banjo), Jake Hegwood (guitar), and John Rice (fiddle) are joined by Brian Stephens on mandolin and Bruce Hoffman on fiddle. Overall, the group has a very familiar sound, obviously influenced by the Lonesome River Band and other “modern traditional” groups. The instrumentation is solid, but lacks some of the drive to be found in more-experienced bands. Overall, Lonely Tonight is an enjoyable debut, although a little more variation in tempo throughout the album would have been nice to hear.
For more information on Grassville, visit their website at www.thegrassvillebluegrassband.com.
Their album can be purchased from a variety of online music retailers.