JACK GRACE BAND
Jack Grace is a singer, songwriter and guitarist hailing from Brooklyn, NY. Simple enough, unless you happen to happen to work in the music business. The entertainment world loves a label: character actor, avant garde painter, fill-in-the-blank musician. Jack writes for himself and plays for others. Simple.
He’s been most recently known as a country musician, but that designation belies the myriad of influences that shape his sound. It began with an obsession with the Beatles, and as a teenager, he wore out his Zeppelin records like so many of us. Later, when he discovered Neil Young, he wore those discs out too. His first band, Steak, had a Zappa-inspired sound, he was told, when he was barely aware of the iconic figure who couldn’t be bothered to stick to a single formula. Fitting. Later, after discovering he had a baritone eerily reminiscent of the great Johnny Cash, he added some steel to the mix and suddenly everyone was calling him country.
Steak was formed in 1993 in Boulder, CO and built an avid following in the West until the group officially disbanded in ’99. Frustrated by the restraints of even an experimental outfit, Jack decided to go solo, working with a revolving group of musicians even to this day. Functioning more like a jazz bandleader, he has a main cast of characters but keeps two to three drummers, a handful of bassists and some horn players on call for recordings and gigs.
Five previous releases and tracks featured in the films “Super Troopers” and “Beer Fest” have garnered both a growing following and a steady hum of praise. His debut, Introducing the Songs of Jack Grace, was an acoustic affair, which many mistook as country. “Fine, call it country if you want,” he said at the time. “What you label it doesn’t mean all that much to me.” What mattered? There were new rules to be broken. His most recent release, Drinking Songs for Lovers, had some fine country numbers, but he added mariachi horns to give them a Latin flavor, inspired by his yearly pilgrimage to Tulum, Mexico, where he likes to write songs on the beach. His previous outing was a country concept album called The Martini Cowboy, featuring in a bossa nova number with lap steel front and center.
Alan Young of the New York Press raved, “what sets his songs apart from rest of the country or alt-country scene is his laugh-out-loud, absurdist wit. Not only is this a great party album and a great driving album but it’s also very smart and very funny.” Kevin Canfield, writing for the New York Times, exclaimed, “Make no mistake: Jack Grace is an old-fashioned country musician.” Except that he isn’t.
His band rocks too hard to be country. It always has. And the band members come from all walks of life: jazz, rock, country and, well, other. Bassist, vocalist and wife Daria (Melomane, Pre-war Ponies) keeps the rhythm going with the rotating drummers, Russ Meissner, Jason “J-Bird” Bowman and Bruce Martin (Tom Tom Club). Horns are provided by J. Walter Hawkes, Rob Henke and “Tuba Joe” Exley.
His upcoming recording, The Money’s Gone Away, builds on the Latin bit, and also features some groovy mellotron (provided by the multi-talented Mr. Martin), a saw, the addition of the aforementioned tuba and more of Daria’s vocals front and center. And so the evolution of the Jack Grace sound continues. A consummate live performer, lyricist, singer and guitarist, Jack is at the helm of a powerhouse band that plays kick the can with any musical genre that it stumbles across. Intelligence, humor and unpredictable cross-pollinations of musical categories await. But don’t take our word for it. “If you don’t laugh and cry at the same …you better check your pulse. You might be disgracefully dead.” – James Reaney, London Free Press (London, ON)
“A bona fide Country Rock Originator.” Kilkenny Advertiser (Ireland)
“It sounds like Cole Porter meets Gene Autry.”— Clyde Haberman, New York Times
“He’s like that Cash kid, but good.” — Jerry Lee Lewis on hearing Jack live
“The originator of one hell of a sound” Waterford News and Star (Ireland)
Ireland AM 2008-