The Grass Cats will release "The Mountains My Baby and Me" on September 10th, 2012. This will be their eighth CD for New Time Records and the first band project since August 2009. Known for their chart-topping originals and bluegrass covers from other genres of music, The Cats continue to strike a chord with critics and fans alike with their unique sound.
Now well into their second decade as a band, The Grass Cats are still entertaining audiences with their live performances and critically acclaimed recordings. After fifteen years of performing, major chart success including two number one singles and several top ten CDs, some bands at this point in their career might rest on their laurels and just “make another record” but the Grass Cats refuse to settle for that. Combining the songwriting of Russell Johnson, one of the music’s premier writers and covers of songs from artists as diverse as Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, The Mountains My Baby and Me promises to be another stellar disc featuring a broad range of material, soulful vocals and dynamic instrumentation.
The Mountains My Baby And Me is the eighth New Time Records project from this North Carolina quintet. The CD opens with the title track and first single. Written by band members Russell Johnson and Rick Lafleur, the songs fiery instrumentation and seamless harmony weave together for some high octane top shelf bluegrass. Over half of the songs on the CD are originals including Gary Whitt and Johnson’s song Life In The Mines. This foreboding minor composition warns of the risks and dangers of working in the coal mines. The imagery created as the story unfolds may leave you feeling as if you can hear the “cold steel a ringing” and feel the “shaking and the rumbling as the timbers are a crumbling.” The Grass Cats give the bluegrass treatment to several songs from American popular music. Russell’s soaring lead vocal and the lush harmonies of Tim Woodall and Chris Hill combine for a heartfelt version of Bob Dylan’s Blowin’ In The Wind and Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart sounds as if it could have been a bluegrass song from the 1950’s. Two gospel songs compliment this 13 song offering.
The Grass Cats are five musicians with a musical story to tell. They are the exceptional banjo of Rick Lafleur, the razor sharp guitar playing of Alan Mullen, silky smooth harmonies of bassist Tim Woodall and fiddler Chris Hill, and the songs, voice and soul of Russell Johnson on mandolin.
The GRASS CATS continue to entertain audiences with their exciting live performances and critically acclaimed recordings. Their shows feature lively foot-stomping fiddle and banjo music, bluegrass classics, tight vocal harmonies, acapella gospel quartets and chart-topping original songs. Though careful never to lose their traditional bluegrass footing, the Cats also perform cleverly arranged "covers" of songs from artists as diverse as Eric Clapton, Duke Ellington and Johnny Cash.
With a total of eight CD's, their recording career has been highly acclaimed with four of their CD's landing in the Top 10 on Bluegrass Unlimited's National Chart. Their latest release, A Good Way To Get The Blues, produced their second #1 hit “A Good Way To Get The Blues”. Their 2002 release, The Blues Are Back In Town, received a highlight review in Bluegrass Unlimited magazine and garnered the CATS their first #1 single, "Bluegrass Man." The CD was also named to County Sales' Top 5 Traditional Bluegrass Recording list for 2002. Their 2007 release, Home To Carolina, garnered a #2 single, “Pill Or Potion”.
RUSSELL JOHNSON - mandolin, vocals
Russell brings twenty three years of performing, songwriting and recording experience to the band. He was the driving force behind the award winning Pinecastle Recording Artist “New Vintage” from 1989 to 2000. His ”rock-solid and exquisitely high-lonesome vocals” and humorous stage presence have resonated with audiences from his very first show. Russell’s success as a songwriter and singer is well documented with twelve of his original songs reaching the Bluegrass Unlimited National Bluegrass Survey, including the #1 single “Bluegrass Man” in April and May of 2003 and "A Good Way To Get The Blues" in June, July and August 2010. He was also nominated for SPBGMA's Songwriter of the Year in 2004, 2011 and 2012. Bluegrass Unlimited magazine places him in "the first ranks of contemporary bluegrass."
TIM WOODALL - bass, vocals
Tim is the elder statesman of The GRASS CATS. Having played banjo for 40 years, 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 thirteen is radio broadcasting. He acquired his FCC License in 1967 and is a co-host of the Pinecone Bluegrass Show on WQDR 94.7FM in Raleigh since it first aired in 1989, NC. Having played banjo with The Grass Cats for the first thirteen years years he switched to bass with the addition of Rick Lafleur to the band.
CHRIS HILL - fiddle, vocals
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.
RICK LAFLEUR - banjo, vocals
Picking a rock-solid banjo, Rick is the newest member of the Cats. He was exposed to the sounds of Flatt and Scruggs at an early age and fell in love with Earl’s playing, the banjo, and bluegrass. His parents are avid bluegrass music lovers and supported Rick’s endeavors to meet other players, go to festivals, and develop his musical talent. Rick received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry in 1997 and found his way to NC by way of his post-doctoral studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. He loves the warm weather and friendly folks here in the home state of Earl Scruggs.
ALAN MULLEN - guitar, vocals
Alan started playing music with "country bands" at an early age. It wasn't until years later, when he heard the guitar playing of Tony Rice, that he was hooked on bluegrass. Since then, Alan has filled in with numerous bands and has been called to sit in on many studio sessions. He has recorded on five CMH Records "Pickin' On" series. 3