Securing their popularity within the Bluegrass genre through hundreds of gigs at the Grand Ole Opry and a gruelling festival touring schedule, The Grascals return to St. Augustine tonight to play Café Eleven.
The sextet formed in Nashville in 2004 and is comprised of Terry Eldredge (vocals/guitar), Danny Roberts (mandolin), Terry Smith (vocals/acoustic bass), Kristin Scott Benson (banjo/guitar), Adam Haynes (fiddle) and John Bryan (vocals/guitar). Since then, they’ve made appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Fox & Friends,” “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson” and CBS’ “The Talk.”
Compass caught up with Eldredge to chat about what success looks like, the band’s next album and the songwriting process. Here’s part of that conversation.
Compass: The band played the Grand Ole Opry last night, which you’ve played over a hundred times. Why so often?
Terry Eldredge: They just like what we do. Every time we go there, we get a great response. The crowd really likes us. We keep hoping they’ll make us members. That may happen. It may not. I think we’ve probably played it more than some of the members have. I would say it’s getting close to 200 times.
Compass: The Grascals has earned three Grammy nominations and two Entertainer of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Is there a goal or something that would make you feel like you’ve really made it?
T.E.: That stuff is always nice. Awards are always wonderful, but the main thing is that the fans keep liking us. I mean, yes, we’ve been nominated three times for a Grammy, but we’d love to win one. That’s like the highest thing you can get. And another goal would be to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. We also played for President [George W.] Bush’s going away party and also President Obama’s second inauguration.
Compass: Your current album, “And Then There’s This…,” which was released in January of 2016, has been your most successful to date.
T.E.: Yes. It’s been No. 1 on the charts [Billboard Bluegrass Chart] for, I think, eight months now. I don’t keep up with that stuff as much as some of the other members of the band do.
Compass: Your publicist said that you’re already working on a new album. When do you anticipate that coming out?
T.E.: We’ve already got the recording done. Now it’s just getting the artwork … actually, we went yesterday and got the pictures made. We did a photo shoot yesterday for the cover. We’re not sure when it’s going to come out. The record label was saying that they’re going to try and do it by the end of May.
Compass: Tell me a bit about the songwriting process within the band. There are so many members. How does it work?
T.E.: I don’t write that much. I don’t really write at all. Some of the other people like Danny Roberts and Adam Haynes do, and also Kristin Scott Benson, our banjo player, they write. And our bass player, Terry Smith, he writes a lot. He’s written three or four songs. Some of them work together and then they do it on their own, too. I don’t really write. I do a lot of thinking, but I don’t write it down.
Compass: What’s next for The Grascals aside from your new album?
T.E.: Well, we’re starting the festival season, so we’re getting really busy. We’ve got something like 80 or 90 dates booked for this year and we’ll add some to that. I’m sure we’ll get some more Opry spots, too.
Compass: What do you see for the future of Bluegrass?
T.E.: There are so many younger kids getting into it and they’re great musicians. There’s a new band out — well, they’ve been out for a few years — but they’re really hitting it hard now. It’s Flatt Lonesome. I call them young kids, but they’re in their 20s. They’re a great new band. There are so many young people that we meet out on the road, and they’ll be out jamming at festivals. These kids, 10- to 13-year-old kids, just playing the fire out of a guitar or banjo or fiddle. It’s just amazing the talent that they have at such a young age. I couldn’t play that way when I was young. I don’t think I can play that way now.
The Grascals will perform with Grant Paxton at 8 p.m. Friday at The Original Café Eleven, 501 A1A Beach Blvd. Tickets are $20 in advance and $24 at the door.