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Music » Sound Stories & Interviews

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Grit and Grizzle's foot-stomping bluegrass ready to take town by storm

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I know we write a lot about bluegrass. But it's popular right now for a reason—people like to get rowdy and listen to good stuff while they do. It doesn't hurt that whiskey is tasty. I mean, no writer is talking about music you can sip vodka to now are they?

So, it doesn't hurt to throw another bluegrass band into the mix of local talent. Enter Grit and Grizzle. After a very successful set in the BENT Lounge at Winterfest a couple of weeks ago and an album set to drop soon, this Avett Brothers-like group should be on everyone's radar.

G&G's sound is delightfully rough with charged vocals and uses banjo, upright bass, guitar, cello, harmonica and violin. It's music that speaks to a simple time. Even though the three guys in the band are 21 or younger, they've got a certain wisdom that's boiled life down to the basics in their music.

I sat down with guitarist and vocalist Gabriel Juarez, 19. True to bluegrass form, whiskey came up more than once. So did chickens and trailer parks.

Source: How long have you guys been a band now?

Juarez: We've been playing for a year or so together. A lot of our music was developed on the streets of Bend. When we were busking we'd usually set up wherever we could. On busy nights downtown it's pretty much every band for itself!

What's your most notable show so far?

We were fortunate enough to open for Hillstomp—one of our favorite bands, at the Old Stone Church last fall.

In a crowded bluegrass scene, what separates you guys from the pack?

Well, while we do have a real deep appreciation for traditional grass, I put the guys together to try and do something raw. We love being loud. I guess we could be considered thrash grass.

Still, you guys don't use drums. That's something very traditional right?

The drums are weird man. The bass is what makes it for us with that heartthrobbing rhythm. We want to stick with that for sure.

If you guys were going to play the most kick ass show you can think of, what three things would need to be there?

Lots of whiskey, for sure. We'd also want to be as close to the crowd as possible. That's what gets us going. It'd also have to be in a barn with chickens running around.

What's the upcoming album like?

I've always been a guy who enjoyed telling stories. So there are some ballads and heartbreak songs. Just everyday stuff that I feel is important. It's super raw and was mostly done with one-take deals. We wanted to keep it sounding like you were right there listening to us.

What's the most important thing you learned during the recording process?

Well, it's like a dream come true. So you gotta have fun with it. Just relax and don't take it too seriously. 'Cause if you do it's like, what's the point? You're there to have a good time.

What's your brand of whiskey?

I like Old Crow. It was Mark Twain's favorite whiskey. I drink it mostly from the bottle as long as I'm not somewhere it's considered rude.

When I first heard your band name I immediately thought of the scene in the movie The Great Outdoors where John Candy has to finish eating all the grit and gristle from a 96-ounce steak.

The name actually came from our banjo player. Tyler [Canfield] was driving down the road one day and was thinking about beef jerky. He was thinking some really good gritty and grizzly jerky sounded good. It stuck.

If you and the band were going to tie one on in Bend, where would you go?

We'd be at a trailer park somewhere. We would take over the whole park and get everybody out of them trailers and get their feet stomping.

About The Author

Ethan Maffey

Both a writer and a fan of vinyl records since age 5, it wasn't until nearly three decades later that Oregon Native Ethan Maffey derived a plan to marry the two passions by writing about music. From blogging on MySpace in 2007 and then Blogspot, to launching his own website, 83Music, and eventually freelancing...

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