Where Bluegrass Ends and Country Begins

The Grascals (Rounder)
The Grascals

By Bob Mitchell

The Grascals are Dolly Parton's opening act, so there is a heavy influence of the slick Nashville Pop-Country sound. The liner notes say, "Call it, for the lack of a better term, Nashville bluegrass."

Anyone familiar with my reviews knows I have a friendly bias towards traditional bluegrass. There is no doubt that The Grascals are talented and they know how to play bluegrass, but they can't seem to make up their mind about playing Bluegrass or Nashville music. Guesting on this project are Dolly Parton and five musicians who contribute steel guitars and percussion. Their contributions on tracks such as "Viva Las Vegas" make this recording a mix of bluegrass and a contrived "Nashville bluegrass."

The tracks that come closest to the traditional sounds include an Irish flavored instrumental, "Bevans Lake Crossing," written and perfectly played by David Talbot (banjo); "Teardrops In My Eyes" (with some outstanding harmony); "My Saro Jane"; and the ever-popular and often-played "Sally Goodin."

The Grascals are Terry Eldredge on rhythm guitar and vocals (lead and harmony), Jamie Johnson on lead and harmony vocals, David Talbot on banjo and harmony vocals, Terry Smith on bass and harmony vocals, the incredible Jimmy Mattingly on fiddle and mandolin and Danny Roberts on mandolin.

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