Graber Gryass' 'Late Bloom' is available now

Article Contributed by Graber Gryass | Published on Saturday, March 13, 2021

Graber Gryass is an all-original, acoustic jam grass band from Memphis, TN. The band is hitting the festival circuit as soon as possible. They released their first LP, Late Bloom, in October 2020. The second LP, Spaceman’s Wonderbox, hits the market late Spring of 2021. Take an award-winning poet and published author, have him write songs, and then select some of the regions hottest players, including a Winfield-winning banjo champion, the musical director of Public Enemy, members of such bands as Rumpke Mountain Boys, Devil Train, Left Unsung and others—and you have Gryass. This six-piece band can sing harmonies like the Mamas and the Papas, stretch out and jam like the Dead or New Grass Revival, while keeping audiences moving and inspired.

Graber Gryass

Song Descriptions:

‘Drifting Away’

When you have Randal Morton as a banjo player you need a flat out burner of a tune. Randal kicks off Drifting Away. The story finds an anguished father trying to bless and warn his daughter about the immense dangers and transformative experience of falling in love. The obsessive verses are pushed into overdrive with the chorus, chords inflicted by a Gene Clark or Chris Hillman song structure. Eric Lewis, Clint Wagner, and Andy Ratliff add some high, driving harmony singing on top of the fiery picking.

‘Devil’s Got Your Name’

A man walks into a bar …orders a drink. The guy he demonizes, the one who stole his wife is sitting there, torn up. The Devil has been dumped, too, by the same woman. They notice they have the same tattoo of the same girl in the same place on their bodies. Then, their Ex enters the bar with the Divorce Lawyer on her arm. Country surrealism as a day-drinking melodrama, filled with despair. This tune was originally written for Professor Elixir’s Southern Troubadours, but never played or recorded. PEST alumni, Brian Collins, joins the band for high harmony singing and 12-string sweeps.

‘Fool Living Wrong’

Another broke down marriage song. Walk a mile in the shoes of a man who built his dream house in the country only to lose it in a divorce and be forever to “stare in from the cold.” He takes in the world through a broken lens. Michael leads this one on a 12-string. Hot banjo and plaintive fiddle throughout. Guitar and mandolin round out the leads.

‘More to Lose’

Trouble in weddingland continues. More to Lose is an almost cheating song, a tune about temptation and its high, heartbreaking cost. As my mom told me, “if you play with fire, you’ll get burned.” Eric plays dobro. JD Westmoreland steps away from the mixing board to play mandolin. Gia Welch adds the siren harmony vocals.

‘Wind that Shakes the Cotton'

This song goes back a ways. It was written for my eldest child, my daughter Jesse, when she was just a girl (She’s a mom now). She always had a strong will. The point of view of the song is from the young man courting her. I knew them that whoever loved her had to be steadfast and passionate. Chord structures here are a bit expansive, inspired by the early New Grass Revival or Dillard & Clark, but with a Memphis sensibility. Note that Andy Ratliff plays bouzouki and David Pierce plays mandolin. Eric plays lead guitar. Nathan Breckenridge plays bass.

‘When the Water’s this Low’

Just curious. Has anyone else ever entered the breeding grounds of cottonmouths? It’s a quicksilver trip to the twilight zone. 

I experienced this adrenaline-upping madness as a boy and it’s haunted me ever since. 100s of snakes in ropes bundles in a cypress grove desperate to protect their ground. The song is truth, expect the death at the end. And I had a fever, so it was surreal.

I’ve written a poem about it and now a song. I’d love to hear about your experience. Maybe we can start a support group? 

Notable listens; Nathan’s high tenor signing. Andy’s reptilian bouzouki playing. Eric’s dobro bite.

‘A Fable’

This meditation on generations is an early song, written originally when Michael was 19 years old. He relearned it from a 611 EP, changed it a bit for his weekly Microdose series. Most of the musicians on the track couldn’t believe the sound of the 12-string was in standard tuning. Michael doesn’t know the names of many of the chords in this song.

Gerald Stephens on Harmonium, Khari Wynn on lead guitar, and Andy Ratliff on mandolin make it yearning, exploratory, and expansive.

‘Drinkin’ 40s’

It’s odd but beautiful sitting at Wild Bills being totally sober, which is how I wrote this song. I haven’t had alcohol in a long time. The people, relationships, and motivations just presented themselves and I couldn’t take notes fast enough for this song, Drinkin’ 40s. Boo Mitchell said “yes! That’s the original beat box” when mixing the song and he heard Jason jug solo. Boo was dancing and smiling while mixing. We got it in one take, hence the vocal coda tag.

‘Late Bloom’

Late Bloom is an instrumental written to honor the musicians on the session. The A Part is almost in 6/8 while the B Part returns to 4/4. Bouzouki and Guitar open the tune, then Randal takes the banjo break into outer space. Nathan plays bass on this one and slaps and tickles it. Eric Lewis played dobro. David Pierce was on mandolin. 

Late Bloom is the world view of the songwriter, who waited until age 50 to record an LP of all original tunes.


The joke’s on me. People always ask me about the band name Graber Gryass. One joker called it Grab Her Ass. Most approach me a wry, hopeful tone and ask “where is Graber’s grass?” This will make the bottom drawer of the merch table more profitable. Our first single is for them, Marijuana. Really, it’s just time for an anthem for this plant medicine!

It is co-written by my bandmaster from 611 and Professor Elixir’s Southern Troubadours, Brian Collins. Brian sings harmony and plays a sweeping 12-string on in the track.

‘Forgotten What I Call Home'

The grief of losing a beloved prematurely to death fuels the loss, pain, and redemption of the speaker in this song. While this song locates itself in the American South, it also unveils the mystical curtain between waking reality and Dreamtime. Such pain makes us see patterns and meaning in nature that we normally don’t notice. Only singing about it keeps us sane.

‘Oaks & Pines’

Another early song, written when Michael was 20 after getting lost in a mountain in Alaska, just after writing his Last Will & Testament. It was the first time I ever had a real, palpable sense of home, the meaning of love, and the purpose of native plants in memories. We are shaped by our habitats so deeply, but only later become aware of it. This was the first song recorded in the session and was previously played by Fatback Jubilee (a band that included Michael, Eric, Andy, Clint, and David from these sessions).