Hailing from North Carolina, Smokin' Granny belongs to this strange category of rock bands who decided to take prog rock and give it a free funk injection. Similarities with other American groups, like French TV, Volare, and even the N.Y.C.-based free-form jazz/funk World of Tomorrow, don't limit the Grannies' original stance.
Activated around 1993, Smokin' Granny brought together members of previous NC bands, especially longtime friends Todd Barbee, Jeffrey Damon Lindsay, and Brian Preston. Saxophonist Barbee has performed with groups in the fringes of avant-garde, like the impro-jazz Good Neighbors and (much later) the Micro-East Collective. Drummer Lindsay recorded with Daily Planet and (again later) the Accidentals. Bassist Brian K. Preston was also part of Daily Planet. Most importantly, all three were in Freehand, a jazz-prog group who recorded one album, Thinking Out Loud... (later reissued by Metaphoric Music Productions). They recruited acoustic guitarist David Oskardmay (once in Chicago with Sunz of Nunz and a student of Robert Fripp) and began to perform live, mixing upbeat fusion compositions with more exploratory improvisations. Electric guitarist John Heitzenrater rounded out the quintet. A concert at the Bat Cave was recorded and released as a cassette in 1997 (Smokin' Granny, aka Live at the Bat Cave) on the group's own label, Metaphoric Music Productions.
Good reviews in the local and specialized U.S. press prompted the members to pour a little more time (and money) into the project and the CD Sirius Matter (which included much of the live material, plus new studio pieces) came out in 1999. For this album, the group appeared as a quartet with Heitzenrater and Volare's Steve Hatch sharing "guest guitarists" credits. By the Grannies' second CD (Tarth Shook, 2001) and with Volare disbanded, Hatch had become a full-time member, pushing the group's sound further into prog rock territory. Barbee and Preston also perform together in Onomata.