Tyler Grant – Up The Neck

Tyler Grant is certainly well-regarded as a flatpicker. After all, he won the National Flatpicking Championship at Winfield in 2008, having won or placed in several others previously (Wayne Henderson, Rockygrass).

But Grant doesn’t like to be viewed primarily as a flatpicker. He cherishes the role of rhythm guitarist in a band, and has held that spot for the past 5 years with Drew Ennit, first with the Drew Emmit Band and now the Emmit Nershi Band. His debut solo CD, In The Light, was a mostly-vocal project, released in 2006.

He is an especially gifted player, songwriter and composer for the guitar, and his many flatpick fans will be pleased to see that Tyler has released an all-instrumental album, Up The Neck. It showcases the many facets of this talented picker: contest champion, new-age acoustic artist, and bluegrass powerhouse.

For those who follow the contest scene, Grant has included 3 of the arrangements he created for the competition stage, including his wicked versions of classics like Beaumont Rag and I Don’t Love Nobody. My favorite, though, is his graceful rendering of the old time fiddle tune, Forked Deer.

Forked Deer:     [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/forked_deer.mp3]

9 of the 14 tracks are Tyler’s original tunes, which range from lilting solo guitar, like the opener (Springtime Flatpicking) to the flatpick/fingerstyle hybrid of A-11 that closes out the disc. Here are a couple more samples from ones that particularly caught my ear.

Funky Boulder is a band number where he pays tribute to the guitar styles of Jerry Reed and Don Rich. Here again, Grant mixes plectrum and fingerpicking in the cool country style.

Funky Boulder:      [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/funky_boulder.mp3]

Chris Pandolfi is both the name of track #10, and the banjo player who wears it out. Tyler and Chris are good friends and former roommates, and the song was written in honor of The Infamous Stringdusters’ hot banjo man.

Chris Pandolfi:     [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/chris_pandolfi.mp3]

Grant plays with ample fluidity and dexterity throughout, but it is his musicality that makes this album such a treat. His lines are tuneful and melodic, ensuring that Up The Neck is a CD that will appeal to anyone who enjoys adventurous acoustic music.

Oh…  and flatpickers will eat it up!

Hear samples from each track at CD Baby.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.