When I received the email announcing Grace & Tony's stop in Louisville, I had to look them up because I didn't know who they were. About half-way through watching their video for "November," I was intrigued enough to move a dinner party I had already planned for the date. On Saturday night at The New Vintage I had no regrets.
Opening for Grace & Tony was Louisville's Misty Mountain String Band, who have just released a full-length album that they crowd-funded through a Kickstarter campaign. Their sound is built on traditional bluegrass music, but doesn't self-consciously try to be"old-timey." The result is a satisfying mix of original songs that manage to sound modern while paying respect to the heritage of its players. I particularly liked Neal Green's original fiddle tunes and their vocal harmonies. All four are fine musicians with Derek Harris on bass, Brian Vickers on guitar, and Paul Martin on banjo and mandolin.
Grace and Tony White's differences make them a mesmerizing act on stage and it's not just that she looks like she could star in a Gap ad while Tony sports disks in his ears and a neck tattoo. Petite Grace has a great big voice, blending a sweetness that is a perfect counterpart to Tony's deep baritone. She plays mandolin and banjo and he plays guitar while effortlessly engaging the crowd with funny, explanatory asides about the songs, which draw on the rich imagination of two people who obviously love good stories and quirky plots.
Live versions of the songs on November, like "Holy Hand Grenades" and "Electricity Bomb" crackle with energy and fun, as does their surprising cover of Katy Perry's "Supersonic." Brand new songs that will appear on their next release are equally promising. I guess you could call "The One" darkly romantic, as it pairs a creepy stalker with the lonely object of his obsession who doesn't half mind the attention. They rounded out the show by having Misty Mountain join them on stage for a classic southern gospel song, "I'll Fly Away."
Grace & Tony have just announced that they will be a part of the Winnipeg Folk Festival in July and may have a another festival lined up for the near future. If you're close enough to catch one of their shows, I highly recommend it. I can't imagine that they won't continue to build on their success so far.
[Photo Credits: Lee Burchfield]