Home to Carolina is the sixth release for this North Carolina quintet. Since November 1997, The Grass Cats have been “prowling” the stages of North Carolina establishing a name for themselves as an exciting and entertaining band while gaining critical acclaim and a swelling fan base.
Following up the success of 2002’s The Blues are Back In Town CD with it’s number one single "Bluegrass Man” and 2004’s Top 10 CD Desperate Times the Cats again showcase their crafty penmanship, perfectly blended harmonies and masterful song selection on the 13 cuts of Home to Carolina. The disc features their three capable lead singers in a variety of harmony configurations on the seven originals and covers.
The first track "Long Way Back” sets the pace for the CD and was written and performed by former New Vintage front man Russell Johnson. Russell also contributes the bluesy “Pill or Potion” and title track “Home to Carolina”. Guitarist Steven Martin contributes four originals that range from the hard driving “Fading Memory” to the sublime harmonies of the plaintive “Lonesome and Crying”. The Cats' pulled from several different American Music genres for the balance of their CD. Blues, Country, Rock and Pop are all represented, from artists as diverse as The Who, Robert Cray, Tim McGraw and The Heights.
The Cats offer it all on Home to Carolina; powerful solos, bluesy duets, perfectly blended trio harmonies, dynamic instrumentation and cleverly arranged covers from a spectrum of music that doesn’t always confine itself to the bluegrass record bin.
Meet the Cats
Tim is the elder statesman of The GRASS CATS and believe me, the rest of the band takes pleasure reminding you of that fact. Having played banjo for 30 years or so, he also has interest in many other types of music. Tim has recorded pedal steel, bass, and guitar in addition to banjo as a studio musician. Another hobby since the age of 13 or 14 is radio broadcasting. He acquired his FCC License in August of 1967 and finally got a job in January of 1989 as the co-host of the Pinecone Bluegrass Show on WQDR in Raleigh, NC. Occasionally he will step out front to sing lead if there are cue cards available, but is much more comfortable singing harmony.
Russell brings seventeen years of performing and recording experience to the band. He was the driving force of the award winning Pinecastle Recording Artist “New Vintage” from 1989 to 2000. His ”rock-solid and exquisitely high-lonesome vocals” and humorous stage presence are hard to forget. Russell’s success as a songwriter and singer is well documented with eight of his original songs reaching the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey, including the #1 hit “Bluegrass Man” in April and May of 2003. He was also nominated for SPBGMA's Songwriter of the Year in 2004. Bluegrass Unlimited magazine places him in "the first ranks of contemporary bluegrass."
Affectionately known as "Fiddleboy" by The GRASS CATS faithful, Chris has been draggin' the bow since the age of 7. His over twenty years of performing have taken him from local shows, to bluegrass festivals to venues as far away as Ulster American Folk Park in Northern Ireland. He has appeared on-stage with the likes of Grand Ole Opry member and International Bluegrass Music Association Hall-of Honor inductee Ralph Stanley, country and bluegrass favorite Mac Wiseman, bluegrass-gospel legends The Lewis Family and was a member of regional favorite Al Batten & The Bluegrass Reunion for 6 years. Chris' deeply traditional style compliments the band's powerful vocals and shines on their instrumentals.
A triple threat entertainer whenever he steps in front of a microphone, Steven Martin has years of playing and singing bluegrass to his credit. From his early days with Carolina Drive, and more recently a six year stint with the award-winning Churchmen, his richly textured country-tinged lead vocals, exceptional songwriting abilities and his "in the pocket" rhythm guitar, have won him much recognition. An excellent songwriter, his song, "Get Onboard," from The Churchmen's' album On The Journey Home went to #1 on the Bluegrass Now Gospel Truths chart and the album was nominated for the prestigious Dove Award. With a name like "Steve Martin" you know he's got to be a "wild and crazy" guy, a perfect fit with the rest of The GRASS CATS.
Lloyd Herring is The GRASS CATS bass player. Fairly new to the bluegrass scene, Lloyd first fell in love with the sound of the banjo and bluegrass music after hearing Flatt and Scruggs on his father's radio at the age of 17. After a short stint playingbanjo with Lonesome Pine in 2005, Lloyd bought his first bass in August and started playing. A natural musician, Lloyd was able to contribute immediately on bass with his great sense of timing and drive. Equally gifted as a singer, Lloyd adds harmony vocals to his bluegrass arsenal, making him an extremely accomplished musician despite his young age. With his pants worn low and his snappy nick-names, "Double L Kool Aid" or "Stringbean", Lloyd brings an infectious youthful exuberance to the old timers in the band like Tim Woodall and …well Tim Woodall.
The Grass Cats come back roaring this time with their latest project. This is what bluegrass is about -great vocals, instrumentation, songwriting - it has it all! Ronnie Moretz, WHHQ
Once again, these folks have made a real bluegrass CD. Great stuff! Dennis Jones, WNCW
Another great CD from this outstanding band. You can always count on the Cats!!!
Buddy Michaels, WBAG/WKRX/WLHC
A recording such as this goes a long way in explaining the growing popularity of
bluegrass music. Wayne Bledsoe, KUMR