What you have here is the real deal...great bluegrass music of the purest type. It's a rare form of bluegrass these days, but it's the kind that many of us grew up with, still remember, and still prefer. And It's not too often that you find current active bands doing this style of music. I'm talking about REAL bluegrass music.
Real bluegrass music is about soul and honest emotion. It's the kind of sound that gives you goosebumps and makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. And to get that sound it takes a group of musicians who get along and respect each other, working together as team to deliver soulful and emotional music with hard-hitting, raw energy. The Southern Grass is one of the few bands today that delivers this kind of bluegrass.
Fronting the group is my dear friend from childhood days, Danny Paisley. We've known each other since we were both babies at shows with our parents at places like Sunset Park, New River Ranch, and Watermelon Park. Not only has he always been a true gentleman, but he is also without a doubt, one of the greatest authentic heartfelt vocalists of all time, and absolutely one of THE best rhythm guitars players ever.
Another good old friend of mine from childhood is T. J. Lundy. He is the band's current fiddle player, having a lifelong musical and personal relationship with Danny. T. J. has always been one of my favorite fiddle players, and is as powerful, soulful and bluesy as they come, always giving me shivers when I hear him play. He has returned once again to The Southern Grass, replacing Doug Meek who also provides some mighty fine fiddle work on some of the pieces on this CD.
Danny's son, Ryan, just 15 years old at the time of this recording, has been in the group for about three years. Ryan is now one of my favorite young bluegrass mandolin players. He has the ultimate raw, bluesy, chunky, punchy, powerful style that has all but disappeared from bluegrass these days. And there is no acrobatic bedazzlement in his playing at the expense of taste.
Eric Troutman, has been playing bass and singing in the group for about three years. He holds down the beat, and achieves perfect lock-in with the rhythm section. Eric works so well with the other guys, that the band becomes one driving and grooving rhythm machine. And he keeps it straight and clean, just the way I like it! He's also a perfect vocal blend with Danny.
Mark Delaney, who has been in the group for four years on vocals and banjo, is another good friend of mine. We have known each other for quite a long time now. Everybody absolutely loves the powerful, no-holding-back, in-your-face attitude in his playing. He delivers in a way that captures every listener.
Each one of these guys grew up as I did... in the thick of roots music, surrounded by bluegrass and other styles of music in the Mid-Atlantic region, with no short supply of some of the best hard-core bluegrass music anywhere. Growing up in that environment, it's no wonder Danny Paisley and The Southern Grass is one of the most authentic and pure bluegrass bands on the circuit today. I'm sure you'll enjoy listening to this CD as much as I do.
In their own words...
I am very lucky to have good friends in the band. And how cool it is to have my son traveling and playing with me and watching and hearing him grow as a person and a musician. And to have my life long friend TJ Lundy back in the band is so good. And it's wonderful to have Mark Delaney drivin' that 5-string banjo next to me every show...and to stand on stage and sing with one of my favorite singers, Eric Troutman. And up until a couple months ago, to have Doug Meek in the band and hear him develop into a fine fiddler.
Over my forty years of playing, we've kept a pretty solid band. We keep close bonds with each other. With that, the music gets real tight because we all know what each other is doing. I take pride in our band and the people who I ask to come into our group.
Its a real pleasure to be back playing with Danny and the Southern Grass again. I think its awesome how well we all get along. It feels like we are all family. I've watched Eric grow up over the years and of course Ryan too. They both amaze me with their talent. Mark always surprises me with both his banjer pickin' and his sense of humor. And Danny, who I refer to as my brother... we've known each other all our lives. Like I said, this is family and I feel so grateful and honored be to playin and traveling with best guys I know!
From the day I was born, music was a big part of my life, and naturally I began to love it. There was usually some type of music playing around the house somewhere rather it be dad playing some old records or playing music at home. Out on the road music was everywhere.
It wasn't always Bluegrass music. When we went to my Grandmother's house, it was usually her playing the piano, or traditional Irish music on the CD player. My Grandfather, Bob Paisley, was obviously the biggest source of music when I was very little, but I do not have a lot of memories because he passed away when I was four. But some of my memories are when he played the broom like a guitar to me or when he got me up on stage to play my cardboard fiddle that had no strings.
As I got older I grew more interested in music, specificity Bluegrass, and then I began to notice the sounds of the mandolin. I can remember the sounds of the Johnson Mountain Boys Duncan and Brady playing on the radio and listening to the mandolin break thinking "I have to learn how to play that!" I began listening more and more of the mandolin from Bill Monroe and Ronnie McCoury and from many others.
Soon, I got a mandolin and began trying to learn as much of the mandolin as I could. With the help of my dad I learned my first song, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, and then, I'm Going Back to Old Kentucky, and others. I began practicing more and more and then I starting going along with the band and chopping the mandolin standing behind the full time mandolin player.
Eventually, my dad asked me if I wanted to step up and play the mandolin full time. So I practiced as much as I could go be ready. Then I started playing full time and loving every minute. Every show we play, I love standing on stage playing with the guys in the band, especially with my dad. I not only love playing music but I love traveling and seeing places and people we don't normally see every day. I'm having the time of my life!!!
I lived above Harrisburg PA all my life! My great uncle played 5-string banjo, and when I was around 8, I started going with my grandfather to square dances every weekend until I was 12. He played tenor banjo and mandolin at those dances every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. After that, he started working a concession stand and doing nothing but bluegrass festivals for the next 8 years or so, taking me along to every one!
One of my favorite musical highlights was when Danny Paisley came up to me at a jam at a bluegrass festival and asked if he could have my number in case he ever needed a fill-in!!! I impatiently waited for almost two years before I actually got my first call!I grew up listening to Danny with his dad, and he was always one of my favorite singers! Now, to get to sing with him all the time, he keeps me on my toes trying to keep up with him!!!
We would have the best parking lot jam goin at a festival but would cut it short just to go to the stage to hear Danny sing for 45 mins! Such a soulful singer! And that rhythm guitar............MAN!!!!!
I've known Mark for a long time! I met him in his Hobbs and Partners days when I was pretty new to this music! I always enjoyed his banjo playing! But until we started playing in the southern grass together I never realized how great he really is! He kinda has his own style!! I love his banjo playing on slow tunes (I'll break out)!!! And he can rip a fast banjo tune like it's nothing, too!! And he's just an all around good guy!!
T.J. knows so many awesome old fiddle tunes!! He plays the ones you don't hear anymore!! It's exciting to have him back in the band!! Since he's been back, I think he has pulled out a new (to me) tune every gig!! He keeps things fresh!!
As for Ryan, he has gotten so good so fast!!!!! Before I was hired to play bass, I had filled in on mandolin for quite a few gigs. When Ryan started coming along to a few of those gigs, I could hear if I took the mandolin job, I wouldn't have it long, haha!! He is so excited about the music. And he continually gets better every day. It's crazy!! But it's no surprise really, because he was surrounded by some great music his whole life...the Paisleys and Lundys for example. It makes me feel good that Ryan still asks how to play something on the mandolin (for now) cuz he is already way better than I ever was!!
I have been familiar with the sounds of Danny Paisley since I first started attending Bluegrass festivals in 1981 when was 12 years old. Traditional bluegrass has always been the driving force behind my desire to play the banjo. And Danny’s singing and killer Bluegrass guitar rhythm is at the core of what bluegrass is all about.. So, when I was offered the opportunity to play banjo for Danny, I jumped at the chance. I didn’t even need to sleep on it!
I don’t even call what we do "traditional Bluegrass". I simply call it "Bluegrass Music". And thats one of the main reasons why I enjoy playing in this band so much. There is nothing contrived or assembled when it comes to playing with these guys. We’re playing bluegrass the way we were taught to play, and how we hear it. Danny doesn’t sugar coat his music, and thats what I respect the most about his sound. I like to tell people, ”If you don’t like Bluegrass, you’re not going to like us…”
I’m having a great time spending time on the road with these guys. They’re all really good people and I would trust each and every one of them with my life!