I love folk-punk. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much success convincing my friends of the awesomeness of the genre. They politely listen to my proselytizing while they half-heartedly stifle their yawns as they question whether or not the free whiskey from my stash was worth the music lecture. I have succeeded in convincing only three of my friends to trade their Mumford & Son’s albums for the albums produced by the folk-punk gods The Men They Couldn’t Hang, which is beyond frustrating for me. Thankfully, the Lawrence County, TN based band Grace & Tony has begun to change the minds and hearts of my friends.
The husband and wife team of Grace & Tony have created a sub-genre of folk-punk called Punkgrass. Relying heavily on traditional bluegrass instruments, Punkgrass is an upbeat style that combines Tony’s punk background with Grace’s bluegrass and gospel background. This past fall, the band released their debut full-length album November. My first experience with Grace & Tony was at their Kennedy Center Millennium Stage concert, but since then, November has been playing on a regular basis in my house.
Many of my friends, who have become fans of the band, comment on how much they enjoy the Punkgrass style of the album as well as the superbly blended voices of Grace and Tony. I completely agree; in fact, I believe that the richness of their combined voices adds an element of classicalness that is often missing in much folk-punk. As much as I love the music on the album, the lyrics have a narrative scope that falls squarely into the realm of epic, and keeps me coming back again and again to listen to November.
Telling universal stories about love and loss through the perspective of larger-than-life characters gives November a literary feel. Place that in the setting of a musical genre that opens up traditional forms of musical communication to the adventurous nature of punk and even a little swing, and Grace & Tony has produced an album in November that is not only a lot of fun, but provides the music lover with musical substance that demands repeat listening.