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The Grascals & Friends
By: Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store (and restaurant) has been putting out special releases of good music for a few years, this one is a real special treat. Picture the Grascals as the house band, they have recorded mostly older classic country covers, done very tastefully, with many special guests. The CD is titled The Grascals & Friends, let's take a look:

Jamie Johnson wrote a real special song while visiting St. Jude's Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis with the Grascals last winter. It is presented twice; once with Dolly Parton (see video below), and again as a bonus track with mostly everyone here participating. A portion of proceeds of The Grascals & Friends goes to St. Jude’s. The song is "I Am Strong." The ending is priceless, as cancer patient Ansley McLaurin sings the last line.

The CD starts out cookin' with Brad Paisley doing his version of "Tiger by The Tail" (Buck Owens). Sounds very good, He also puts in one of his signature guitar breaks, followed by Kristin of the Grascals taking off on banjo.

I have to jump out of order here, Charlie Daniels just came on singing his very popular "Devil Went Down To Georgia." Charlie was so impressed with Grascals’ fiddler Jeremy Abshire's playing, that he opted not to play on the track.

"Folsom Prison Blues", Featuring Dierks Bentley doing a great job covering the Johnny Cash classic with the Grascals tossing in some very nice harmonies too. Guitarist Kent Wells nails the guitar part.

"Pain of Lovin' You", Dolly Parton nails the song she wrote with Porter Wagoner, and the Grascals sound great playing with her. She then sings the first version of "I Am Strong" with Jamie Johnson. The lyrics here are powerful. Dolly's voice is as good as ever. Very powerful song with some very nice harmonies.

"Louisiana Saturday Night" is just the Grascals performing this Bob McDill song. It is real upbeat, reminds me a bit of Brad Paisley’s "American Saturday Night". Just the concept, not necessarily the tune itself, really takes off well.

"The Year That Clayton Delaney Died" (Tom T Hall) sung by Tom T Hall with the Grascals. I really like this, Tom sings this very animated, a song that works very well.

"White Lightning" featuring Darryl Worley, this song rocks, in a bluegrass way. Kristin really rocks the banjo with lead guitarist Kent Wells playing some sweet electric country riffs.

This album is a lot of fun and has a ton of talent on it. If you like some country and bluegrass, you will love this. I forgot one more important song, Joe Nichols singing "Mr Bojangles", another very well done piece with some great instrumentation by the Grascals. This is a great way to start out the new year.

Check it out!!



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