published Friday, May 6th, 2011

The Grascals headline final day of festival

Q & A

Read a Q&A with Danny Roberts

IF YOU GO

What: 21st annual Boxcar Pinion Memorial Bluegrass Festival.

When: 1-10 p.m. today; 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Raccoon Mountain Campground, 319 West Hills Road.

Admission: $20 today, $25 Saturday.

Phone: 706-820-2228 or 423-432-6276.

Venue website: www.boxcarforeverbluegrass.com

SCHEDULE

Today

1 p.m. Folk School of Chattanooga workshop

2 p.m. Laura Walker & Daniel Parkin

2:30 p.m. Tennessee County Line

3 p.m. The Bluegrass Brothers

4 p.m. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

5 p.m. Barb Wire

6 p.m. East Dixie Boys

7 p.m. The Lone Mountain Band

8 p.m. The Bluegrass Brothers

9 p.m. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Saturday

Noon. The Dismembered Tennesseans

1 p.m. Bent Creek

1:30 p.m. Simply Southern

2 p.m. Tennessee County Line

2:30 p.m. Barefoot Nellie

3 p.m. The Grascals

4 p.m. Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out

5 p.m. The Dismembered Tennesseans

6 p.m. Barb Wire

6:30 p.m. Slim Pickins

7 p.m. Bent Creek

8 p.m. The Lone Mountain Band

9 p.m. The Grascals

10 p.m. Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out

This summer is shaping up to be the busiest yet for The Grascals since the band was founded in 2004, not that the members are complaining.

“The band has been busy ever since we put it together, but we’re doing longer trips, 22-day runs and 19-day runs,” said mandolinist Danny Roberts. “We’ll hit it hard this summer and hopefully not have to work as hard when the winter gets here.”

Saturday, the perennial award-winning contemporary bluegrass sextet will headline the final night of the 21st annual Boxcar Pinion Memorial Bluegrass Festival. In the next four months, however, the band has dates slated from Florida to Canada, Salt Lake City to Denmark.

Spending that much time on the road runs against The Grascals’ preferred pattern of mini-tours that don’t take them away from their native Nashville for too long. Communications services like Skype and FaceTime take away some of the sting by allowing them to stay in touch with family, but the key to staying sane on the road is being surrounded by people you like, Roberts said.

Fortunately, friendship is one thing The Grascals have in spades, and it’s just as vital to harmony in the van as onstage, Roberts said.

“[When the band originated], we all knew each other and had worked together at different times and different places in different bands,” Roberts said. “Having that friendship bond already made it easy for us.

“We have a really good working relationship along with a good friendship. All that ties together. Having friends to travel with makes it so much easier to be away.”

Many bluegrass groups define themselves by where their sound falls on the spectrum, from traditional to progressive. With multipart vocal harmonies, instrumental dexterity and a penchant for unlikely covers of country and rock songs, The Grascals are harder to peg.

That’s just the way they like it, Roberts said.

“We just try to do music that fits our style,” he said. “I love bands like The Stringdusters and Cadillac Sky, but we couldn’t do that kind of music if we wanted to. That’s not what we do. I love Del McCoury and really, really traditional things, but we don’t fit in with that, either.

“We fit in in the middle of all of it. That’s what The Grascals have been from the start.”

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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