The Grascals

When I Get My Pay

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Members of the Grascals had been playing together on the bluegrass scene in different configurations for years as veteran tour and session musicians when they officially came together in 2004. By the time they released a self-titled debut album in 2005, they had already toured as Dolly Parton's backup band on her bluegrass tour, and that the debut album showed a hot band in full stride, able to blend bluegrass and traditional country-pop into an accessible mix that did damage to neither and provided an accessible and moderate template for contemporary bluegrass, should have been a surprise to nobody. The Grascals went on to make more than 130 appearances on the legendary stage of the Grand Ole Opry and release some seven albums and EPs that usually balanced traditional bluegrass numbers with occasional quirky bluegrass takes on pop songs and an original song or two, and if they haven't been a particularly progressive band, they haven't tried to be. They're a band of excellent players and singers perfect for the era they're in, essentially being an updated version of the classic 1950s bluegrass bands without being a facsimile of them. When I Get My Pay, the Grascals' eighth album, doesn't leap into new sonic territory, but its best songs are the group originals this time around, including the working man's lament that opens things, "When I Get My Pay," the pure country-pop duet "Are You Up for Getting Down Tonight," and "American Pickers," the theme song to the reality television series of the same title that debuted on the History Channel in 2010. One of the taglines for that series, which follows Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz as they travel the Midwest in a van "picking" (buying) various antiques and collectibles, is "we make a living telling the history of piece at a time." In a way, that's what bands like the Grascals do, keeping a tradition alive by finding it in a contemporary context. This album, which spans bluegrass and country so effortlessly without splitting either's DNA, builds on bluegrass history and gently bumps it forward without ruffling any feathers.

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