Grass Cats

Location: R.A. Fountain

From the November 15, 2007 FAD:

The Grass Cats, North Carolina’s premier bluegrass band, play Fountain General Store this Saturday night with their hit single “Pill or Potion” still charting–in its 11th month–at number 2 nationally.

But chart-topping success is nothing new for this quintet of pickers led by singer-songwriter Russell Johnson, who has penned most of the band’s top 10 singles, including “Bluegrass Man,” which hit number 1 in 2003.

“Pill or Potion” is the third song from last year’s hit CD Home to Carolina to make Bluegrass Unlimited’s top ten monthly charts. 

Home includes a mix of originals and some surprising bluegrass takes on songs such as Pete Townsend’s “Let My Love Open the Door” and Robert Cray’s “Right Next Door (Such a Strong Persuader).”

Johnson, of Four Oaks, founded the Cats in 1997. Twice nominated as songwriter of the year, he is best known in concert for his stellar mandolin picking and his high lonesome vocals. 

Co-founder and banjo picker Tim Woodall is also known in the region as co-host of WQDR’s Pinecone Bluegrass Show on Sunday nights. The band’s “elder statesman,” he has been picking for over 30 years.

Steven Martin, of Burlington, plays lead guitar. As a member of the Churchmen, he also had chart-topping success with “Get on Board,” a number one song on the national bluegrass gospel charts.

Snow Hill’s Chris Hill plays fiddle. A former member of Al Batten’s band, he has also appeared on stage with Mac Wiseman, Ralph Stanley, and the Lewis Family. Lloyd Herring, a student at NC State, plays bass.

The July issue of Bluegrass Unlimited lauded the Cats’ latest record–as well as their live performances. “By and large,” the reviewer noted, “if you want to see the Grass Cats, you go to North Carolina. Judging by Home to Carolina, as well as their five previous albums, it’s well worth the trip.”

“It’s our good fortune,” added Fountain General proprietor Alex Albright, “that they like playing Fountain–they’re eastern Carolina folks, and this always feels like home to them. So we don’t have to travel very far to see them at all.”

The Grass Cats’ November 17 concert begins at 7:30. General admission is $10; reserved seats, which are highly recommended, are $12.50.

Tags: bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, Concert, original, tradtional bluegrass