Review Harmony Grits Music From Scratch

Harmony Grits

Music From Scratch

Rollin’ Records ROL 101

Review by Art Menius for Bluegrass Unlimited November 1994

Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone    Rollin’ On    Ballad of Easy Rider    Don’t Give Your Heart to A Rambler    Bead    Some Things Can’t Wait    Live A Little    Coyote    Do-Re-Me    Falling Away    Hog Medley    Rank Strangers To Me    Fox On The Run    Gospel Bong

“Harmony Grits spells fun,” reads the business card for this California coast quartet. Nothing on this live set from the prestigious 1992 Spring Strawberry Music Festival dispels that statement. The Grits, spearheaded by emcee Mike McKinley, combine a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor with a genuine love of entertaining and singing, and material from all over the map.

Over the course of 15 songs, performed on Dobro, guitar, mandolin, and bass fiddle, the Harmony Grits render several pleasant originals, a pretty good “Rank Strangers,” “Fox on the Run,” “Do Re Me” from Woody Guthrie, and the Byrd’s “Ballad of Easy Rider.” Despite several well sung bluegrass classics, the whole set has a laid-back early 1970s groove to it. As if that’s too heavy, the Grits append, near the climax of their set, “The Hog Medley,” and close with McKinley’s “Gospel Bong.” While a bluegrass gospel ode to marijuana would turn off lots of bluegrass fans, those are folks who probably wouldn’t like the Grits anyway.

The bluegrass Cypress Hill effect notwithstanding, the Harmony Grits possess better taste and vocals than most humor oriented acts. Together a decade, the four know how to structure a show and work a crowd. Nonetheless, Music From Scratch will not resonate at all with those who take their bluegrass only seriously.