A fan aptly described The Grandsons' exuberant sound as "American music in a blender with the lid off." The more prominent elements in this eclectric whirlpool are New Orleans rhythm and blues, rockabilly, swing and country two steps. After eight years of plying their pop sound around the country as Grandsons of the Pioneers, the group's increasing notoriety resulted in a high-noon showdown with singing cowboys Sons of the Pioneers, who balked at the idea of acknowledging paternity to a low down tuba-toting, sax-blowing rock and roll band. Counseled by their team of cut-throat lawyers to keep on playing rather than pause to litigate, the band shortened its name to The Grandsons and has been going full throttle ever since.
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The Grandsons bring with them a pawn shop of instruments. Vocalist-guitarist-trumpeter Alan MacEwen charms audiences with his sly wit and winsome original songs; DC blues veteran Matthew Sedgley locks in the groove on drums and percussion. Saxophonist Chris Watling puts out a sound so meaty and memorable that he is in demand all over as a guest artist and session player.
Howdy from Grandsons of the Pioneers, the group's 1991 debut produced by ex-Slickee Boy Mark Noone was hailed by the Washington Post as "so free-spirited and so subversively anti-sophisticate that it's practically new territory." After catching a set at Austin's SXSW conference, Rounder Records quickly added the album to its mail order catalog, the Record Roundup. The Grandsons' follow up, It's Hip to Flip with Grandsons of the Pioneers, showcased their maturing style with 11 new hard-hitting songs. It's Hip to Flip, which won a Wammie from the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA), received raves from the Washington Post and DC's City Paper.
The Grandsons' third CD, Pan American Shindig, has just been released on their own label, Whirling House Records. Thanks to help from local singer/song writer Kevin Johnson, all three of the Grandsons' CDs will be distributed by RedEye Records, who are based in Chapel Hill, and cover the Southeastern US. The official CD-release show for Pan American Shindig was held at the Barns of Wolf Trap last January, and celebrated the 12th year anniversary of the Grandsons with an all-star reunion of Grandsons alumni. It was a sold-out show.
The Grandsons' popularity with so many different audiences has landed them on bills with national acts such as Willie Nelson, Ray Charles, the Iguanas, Terrance Simien, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Marcia Ball, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Paul Cebar & The Milwaukeeans, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Mighty Blue Kings, and Royal Crown Review. The group has been in the studio recently backing R&B legend Ruth Brown and Texas' Evan Johns for nationally distributed compilations. Based in Washington, DC, The Grandsons travel to perform in New York, Texas, and every state in between. The group has performed sold-out shows at the Barns of Wolf Trap, appeared at Austin's South by Southwest music Festival, The Rocky Gap Festival, The Bethlehem, PA Musikfest, The Kennedy Center, and North Carolina's popular Black Mountain Festival and Bele Chere Festival, both in Asheville. Last Summer, the Grandsons will made their first overseas performance; they were invited to play a two-week engagement in Taipei, Taiwan. The Washington Area Music Association just voted The Grandsons their second Wammie in as many years, this time for best roots rock group. No wonder the Washington Post called The Grandsons "the hardest working band in DC."
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