How to make a hit bluegrass record
The Grascals & Friends, “Country Classics With Bluegrass Spin”
How do you make a hit bluegrass CD?
The Grascals found the formula with their “Country Classics with a Bluegrass Spin.”
The recipe goes something like this:
Get a dozen or so country songs that are classics.
Record them with bona fide country stars — the friends — taking turns on different songs.
Add a heartfelt song of hope “We Are Strong,” inspired by a visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
For good measure, include two versions of the song, both with Dolly Parton’s soaring vocals coming in after the scene is set. Have the “bonus” version feature a bevy of country stars taking a line from the heart-touching song. (Think “We Are the World.”) End the song with a child from the hospital -- 3-year-old Ansley McLaurin -- singing the chorus, “I am strong” in a voice that is certain to touch parents and grandparents everywhere. (A portion of the proceeds of the sales of each album is being donated to St. Jude's.)
Voila, Number One here we come.
That said, this isn’t a crass approach. It seems a loving one done with respect to making good music.
The classics are hard not to like. Among them are Johnny Cash’s “Folsum Prison Blues” with Derks Bentley as guest artist, “Pain of Loving You,” a Porter Wagoner-Dolly Parton composition that Parton guests on that feels authentic as coal in West Virginia. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” features Charlie Daniels — how can you go wrong with that?
A couple of personal favorites were “The Year That Clayton Delaney Died” with Tom T. Hall and “Leavin’ Louisiana In Broad Daylight” with The Oak Ridge Boys and “Louisiana Saturday Night.”
And then there’s the Hank Williams Jr. medley, “Born to Boogie/My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” that’s hard not to like.
The rockabilly “White Lightning” took a bit of getting used to, but it has an infectious beat and tight instrumentation that wins a listener over.
Brad Paisley is featured on the Buck Owens’ song “Tiger by the Tail” and Joe Nichols is featured on “Mr. Bojangles.” And an instrumental, “Cracker Barrel Swing,” rounds out the collection.
The BlueGrascal Records release is available through the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, so you might have to get it on a road trip.
It makes for fine, fun listening in the car when going down that never-ending road, as a song on the collection puts it, perhaps on your spring trip south.
Grascals kick off Super Bowl week
The Grascals are getting into the Super Bowl XLV action as part of an "Aces and Angels" concert in Dallas Feb. 2, 2011 to salute the troops and raise funds for Wounded Warriors Project and USO.
Gene Simmons of KISS fame will be among the performers. (Long ago back in the Detroit area this hubster did rock concert light shows and KISS was an up and coming band our small show worked with often. It was no fun cleaning the fake blood off the light cables at the end of the night. But it was a treat to watch them rise to superstardom.) These days many might know him as the star of the A&E reality show, "Gene Simmons and the Family Jewels." The concert Aces & Angels concert will be taped for use on that show, according to the Grascals' publicity firm.
The Grascals have quite a collection of CDs and are touring through March, mostly on the east side of the nation, from Florida up to Maine.
Check them out.
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