Waterfront thick with bluegrass for Three Sisters

Waterfront thick with bluegrass for Three Sisters

October 2nd, 2009 by Casey Phillips in Chattnow Music

Contributed Photo<br> The Del MCCoury Band consists of, from left, Rob McCoury (banjo), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Jason Carter (fiddle), Alan Bartram (bass) and Del McCoury (guitar/vocals).

Contributed Photo<br> The Grascals are, from left, Danny Roberts (mandolin), Jamie Johnson (guitar/vocals), Kristin Scott Benson (banjo), Terry Eldredge (bass/vocals) and Terry Smith (bass/vocals).

Most bluegrass bands would happily part with loved ones in exchange for a chance to walk on the Ryman Auditorium's stage as a finalist at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards show.

The Grascals, however, have taken home four awards there in the five years since they formed as well as being honored at the Grammys and other prestigious events.

Leading up to the awards show last night, the Nashvillians were in the running for five awards, including for Entertainer of the Year and Album of the Year yet again (results were not known at press time). Vocalist/guitarist Jamie Johnson said that simply being recognized was an honor.

"If you can be in the top five bands of all bluegrass music, I think you're doing good enough already," he said. "We'd rather hit a homerun than a single ... but we also understand that there's a lot of great talent out there."

Despite their relatively short tenure as a band, The Grascals are composed of seasoned veterans, with stints alongside bluegrass royalty like Jimmy Martin and Bobby Osborne.

In 2004, just after forming, destiny extended a handful of golden tickets to the band, Johnson said.

"Dolly Parton found out we had a bluegrass band, and by the grace of God and Dolly, she was doing a tour that year and wanted a bluegrass-flavored band," he said, laughing. "We went from playing 100- to 150-seat venues to 20,000-seat venues. It was a pretty big change."

Late last year, they added another firecracker to the lineup by hiring South Carolinian banjo mistress Kristin Scott Benson to replace Aaron McDaris.

Although she's the only woman in the band, to the audience, the only difference is an even stronger lineup, Johnson said.

"Probably the biggest blessing that's come on this band was getting Kristin," he said. "Her reputation and her talent are second to none, and people love her.

"She won Banjo Player of the Year for a reason."

Tonight, The Grascals will bring their award-winning brand of neotraditional bluegrass to the waterfront as the headliners of the first night of the third annual Three Sisters Festival. Legendary frontman Del McCoury will take the stage as Saturday's headliner.

RELATED LINKS FOR WEB:

http://www.grascals.com

IF YOU GO

* What: Three Sisters Festival.

* When: 6-11 p.m. today, noon-11 p.m. Saturday.

* Where: Ross's Landing, 201 Riverfront Parkway.

* Admission: Free.

* Phone: 265-0771.

* Venue Web site: www.downtownchattanooga.org.

* Related links at fyi.timesfreepress.com.

SCHEDULE

Today

6 p.m. Dismembered Tennesseans

7:05 p.m. Mike Cleveland and Flamekeeper

8:10 p.m. Infamous Stringdusters

9:30 p.m. The Grascals

Saturday

Noon. Bluetastic Fangrass

1:20- p.m. Lone Mountain Band

2:40- p.m. Dismembered Tennesseans

4 p.m. John Reischman and The Jaybirds

5:20 p.m. Cheatham County Line

6:40 p.m. Uncle Earl

8 p.m. The Kruger Brothers

9:30 p.m. The Del McCoury Band

ABOUT THE HEADLINERS

THE GRASCALS

* Lineup: Danny Roberts (mandolin), Jamie Johnson (guitar/vocals), Kristin Scott Benson (banjo), Jeremy Abshire (fiddle), Terry Eldredge (bass/vocals) and Terry Smith (bass/vocals)

* International Bluegrass Music Association Awards: Emerging Artist of the Year (2005), Entertainer of the Year (2006, 2007) and Song of the Year (2005)

* Discography: "The Grascals" (2005), "Long List of Heartaches" (2006) and "Keep on Walkin'" (2008)

THE DEL MCCOURY BAND

* Lineup: Rob McCoury (banjo), Ronnie McCoury (mandolin), Jason Carter (fiddle), Alan Bartram (bass) and Del McCoury (guitar/vocals)

* International Bluegrass Music Association Awards: Entertainer of the Year (1994, 1996-2000, 2002-2004), Instrumental Group of the Year (1996-1997), Song of the Year (2002), Album of the Year (1994, 2004),

* Discography: "Blue Side of Town (1992), "Deeper Shade of Blue" (1993), "The Cold Hard Facts" (1996), "The Family" (1999), "Del & The Boys" (2001), "It's Just the Night" (2003), "The Company We Keep" (2005), "The Promised Land" (2006) and "Moneyland" (2008)