Grascals set to return to region

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, November 15, 2018

Oakboro resident Jeff Branch is bringing a multiple award-winning bluegrass music to neighboring Montgomery County.

On Saturday, The Grascals will headline a show at the James Garner Center, 210 Burnette St., Troy. Also performing will be Claybank.

The Grascals is a six-piece bluegrass band hailing from Nashville. Founded in 2004, the band has received three Grammy nominations and two Entertainer of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Banjo player Kristin Scott Benson received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass this year.

A member of the Grascals for the past 10 years, Benson is a four-time International Bluegrass Music Association’s Banjo Player of the Year.

“It’s hard to believe that you can get awarded to do something you love so much,” said the South Carolina native and an honor graduate of Nashville’s Belmont University. “The banjo has always been my passion and getting to play it for a living is reward enough, but it was really overwhelming to be the recipient to Steve’s graciousness. He loves the banjo and has been wonderful for the whole (bluegrass) community. So thankful and blessed.”

The Grascals have appeared on television, performed numerous times at the Grand Ole Opry and entertained for two past U.S. presidents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

“I’ve known Jeff for years,” bassist Terry Smith said. “It is always fun to play for Howard.”
Branch often appears as “The Andy Griffith Show” tribute artist of Howard Sprague.

“The Grascals are one of my favorite bands,” Branch said. “They are entertaining on and off the stage. You can see the good time they’re having playing music. We are happy to have them.”

Claybank is a four-piece ensemble of young men from West Jefferson.

In addition to winning South Carolina State’s Bluegrass Band Championship at RenoFest in 2016, the band has received six award nominations from The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPBGMA).

Claybank guitarist Jacob Greer said, “We will be playing lots of new music from our recently released CD, ‘No Escape!’ It’s always special to visit new places and meet new people. We are honored to be invited. It’s going to be a fun time in Troy.”

“Claybank is a powerful and energetic band. A lot of great things are going to be coming from this band over the years,” Branch said.

The show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for reserved, $15 for general admission and $10 for children. Concessions will be provided by the West Montgomery Lions Club.

For tickets, call 910-572-1313 or 704-985-6987. For more information, visit