Chuck Mead and His Grassy Knoll Boys shake things up at the Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa Thursday night December 6, opening for Old Crow Medicine Show. Mead, co-founder of the perennially popular Alternative Country band BR549, recently released Back at the Quonset Hut, a collection of classic Country covers. The CD features special guest appearances by Old Crow Medicine Show, Elizabeth Cook, Jamie Johnson and Bobby Bare and was recorded at the legendary Quonset Hut Studio in Nashville, a studio that once recorded singers like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and even Elvis. Mead’s Grassy Knoll Boys were joined by members of Music City’s “A-Team” - the session musicians who played on countless hit records during the 50s and 60s.
For Mead, working with players from the original A-Team in the very same studio that produced some of the music industry’s biggest recordings was a thrill. “Well you know, having people like Buddy (Spicher) and Pig Robbins, who’s in the Country Music Hall of Fame now, and Harold Bradley, who’s already there and Bob Moore, guys that helped create not only Country, but a certain amount of R&B and Pop music there in Nashville in the 50s and 60s, the heyday of the music business so far...it’s pretty humbling,” Mead told me in a recent interview. “To be able to have an opportunity to play with guys like that and have them see you as a contemporary, in fact, as the boss, since it was my record...It was over the top spectacular in my mind. I felt like I’d arrived in Nashville again.”
Mead enjoyed hanging out with these musical elder statesmen as much as he enjoyed recording with them. “Those guys were telling tons of stories and it was like they were sitting in the exact same positions they sat in 50 years ago when they were recording music. We did a lot of trial and error trying to set the room up, and we ended up going back to just the way they did it back then. It lent a real comfortable atmosphere,” Mead commented. “When Bobby Bare came in to sing that Carl Smith tune ‘Hey Joe’ with me, he’d seen those guys, he’d worked with those guys for years...Having those guys be around and to actually feel like they were including us in the whole thing, too, instead of just like fans, even though we’re fans, too...it was just an extraordinary experience. That’s one of the reasons you move to Nashville, you know, is to get up with those guys. You got to get with the teachers if you want to learn anything.”
Mead is looking forward to his stop in Tulsa. “I love the Cain’s Ballroom..(it) always looms large. It’s the home of Bob Wills, and we’ve never had anything but great, great gigs in there.” For more information on the show, visit the Cain’s website.