BURLINGTON, VT -- Take Your Pick, the 1998 debut album by Vermont's SMOKIN'GRASS was a tough act to follow. But the "new grass" unit's latest effort, in the barn (S.G. Productions), marks another giant step in the band's evolution from regional to national favorites.
SMOKIN' GRASS is simultaneously mounting a US tour to support the release of in the barn, because seeing the group in concert is the best way to fully appreciate this terrific ensemble of high-energy, uncommonly talented performers.
The music of SMOKIN' GRASS hasn't gone unnoticed by the critics, who seem to be trying to outdo each other in summoning new expressions of praise for the band. The Daily Mississippian has called the group's sound "...an eclectic, enlightening experience that leaves you feeling buzzed and joyous." And Flagstaff Live praised SMOKIN' GRASS for creating what it described as "bluegrass heated, fired and smoked into some new musical species."
Recorded in Vermont at Phish's barn, the seven originals and three covers that comprise in the barn take SMOKIN' GRASS' irresistible blend of bluegrass, jazz, rock and funk to a new level, thanks in large part to the addition of teenage fiddle phenom Patrick Ross. The 18-year-old Ross is already something of a legend in his home state, having won the Vermont Old-Time Fiddle Championship at the tender age of 14.
Ross joins founding members Adam Frehm (dobro), Doug Perkins (guitar) and Mike Santosusso (bass), as well as two other newcomers, drummer Eric Hamell and mandolinist Beau Stapleton. Together, the six master musicians have conjured a signature sound that is guaranteed to continue capturing the hearts, minds and ears of music lovers from coast to coast at an escalating pace.
While stunning instrumental prowess has always been the calling card of SMOKIN' GRASS, another key element of its success is the members' songwriting abilities. Most of in the barn's originals, including fiddler Patrick Ross and guitarist Doug Perkins' jazzy instrumental, "Syracuse Stomp," and dobro player Adam Frehm's "Open Road," were inspired by the seemingly nonstop touring the unit has done since the release of Take Your Pick.
in the barn also showcases SMOKIN' GRASS' inspired abilities as interpreters of other composers' songs. Among the CD's standout covers are Doug Perkins' take on Don Reno's seminal "Country Boy Rock and Roll," which introduced flat-picked guitar soloing to bluegrass, and Stapleton's reinvention of Bob Dylan's "Mixed Up Confusion" as a turbo-charged bluegrass workout.
So give your ears the party they deserve. Check out SMOKIN' GRASS when they hit your town.
SMOKIN' GRASS TOUR DATES ...
April 5 Thursday Austin, TX Lucy's
April 6-7 Fri.-Sat Dripping Springs, TX Old Settler's Music Festival
April 10 Tuesday Flagstaff, AZ The Alley
April 11 Wednesday San Diego, CA Winston's
April 12 Thursday Santa Monica, CA Fourteen Below
April 13 Friday Santa Cruz, C A Henfling's Tavern
April 14 Saturday San Francisco, CA Last Day Saloon
April 15 Sunday Lake Tahoe, CA Sierra Vista
April 18 Wednesday Breckenridge, CO Sherpa & Yeti
April 19 Thursday Vail, CO Half Moon Saloon
April 20 Friday Laramie, WY U. of Wyoming
April 21 Saturday Fort Collins, CO Starlight Theatre
April 22 Sunday Boulder, CO Tulagi