Grascals continue anniversary celebration
By DEREK HALSEY
The Tri-State has always played a part in the history of The Grascals and their yearly appearances at the Mountaineer Opry House continue today, April 5.
Made up of music veterans, the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band started as a backup group for Dolly Parton when she was doing one of her more rootsy albums and tours back in 2004.
Once on their own, the Grascals found themselves winning the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Emerging Artist of the Year award in 2005. By the next year, the group won the coveted IBMA Entertainer of the Year nod, the first of two consecutive awards. In 2008, Kristin Scott Benson was the first woman to win the IBMA Banjo Player of the Year award. A few months after that success, Benson joined The Grascals and went on to win three more Banjo Player of the Year honors.
Over the years, The Grascals have recorded with many legends including Parton, George Jones, Bobby Osborne, Tom T. Hall, Charlie Daniels and many more. Their latest album is called "When I Get My Pay" and it features a guest appearance by country music star Dierks Bentley.
The members of The Grascals include Benson, Terry Eldredge, Danny Roberts, Jamie Johnson, Terry Smith and Adam Haynes.
"We started off on the biggest high we ever could be on, being Dolly Parton's band for almost two years," said Johnson. "That was huge. That introduced us to the whole world. Then, we were on our own and right off the bat got nominated for a couple of Grammys and became the IBMA Entertainer of the Year. We've lost a few band members here and there, but we've kept it together. We've had sponsorships from Mayberry's Finest to Mobile-Exxon to Vietti Chili out of Nashville, and that has been good for them and for us as we've been a moving billboard for them."
A big feather in the career cap of The Grascals has been their many appearances on the legendary long-time radio and TV show the "Grand Ole Opry."
"We've been on there over 130 times, but who's counting," said Johnson. "They get a kick out of us because we make sure to tell whoever is hosting that section of the show what number it is (appearance-wise). They will laugh at us, but I swear, that's the best stage on earth. It really is. We love the Grand Ole Opry, and we'd love to be members, and they know it. We've done everything short of begging. But, to be on it that many times in the last 10 years, I bet you could count on one hand anybody else that has been on there that many times, in that amount of time, except Little Jimmy Dickens and the folks that belong there. With us being a guest and them bringing us there that many times in eight years, man, are we thankful. We never, ever take that place for granted. We put on the best show we possibly can. And, we do that wherever we're at, because you always must do that as it makes it more fun and not feel like a job. But, at that place, we still get nervous, we still get the goose bumps. It's a blessing for anybody to stand on that stage one time, let alone as many as we've been lucky enough to do."
Over the years, The Grascals have also appreciated the moments standing on the stage of another Opry, the Tri-State's own Mountaineer Opry House in Milton.
"It's home," said Johnson. "The Mountaineer Opry House sometimes has a little leak in the ceiling and they have buckets sitting out. I love that about that place. It could be sitting in-between one of the fan's legs, a bucket catching a little bit of water. But it's real, and it's home for us. And, they've got some of the best dog gone hot dogs that you've ever eaten in your life with cole slaw on it. We love the Mountaineer Opry House, and we love visiting with the folks."
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