More so than in most genres of music, change is inevitable—and often frequent—in bluegrass music. The Grascals have been around for 17 years and were known for handling change well while providing one-of-a-kind vocals from all-time great Terry Eldridge. Eldridge’s departure signaled a need to move in a different direction.
The group has managed to do that, with the new Up All Night being the second album since Eldridge left. It’s not like the Grascals were gutted—they still boast five-time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Kristin Scott Benson; steady hand Terry Smith on bass; longtime standout mandolinist Danny Roberts; fiddler Adam Haynes; and guitarists/vocalists Chris Davis and John Bryan.
The group’s sound has shifted a bit, as expected—perhaps more bouncey and less of a hard driving style. Song selection on Up All Night comes from an all-star cast of bluegrass songwriters: Shawn Camp, Rick Lang, Darren Nicholson, Charles Humphrey III, Milan Miller, Jerry Salley, Donna Ulisse, Jon Weisberger and others.
In addition to “Flowers & Lace,” which is getting some radio play, “Low Down Blues,” “This Ol’ Train” and “Traveling the Highway Home” are among the best. “Maybelle” has a great old-time mountain feel and the Barnes composed “It’s a String Thing” provides a solid instrumental.
Grascals fans will be encouraged that despite the changes, the tight fit on this group will propel it into another decade of making music.