Memphis-based bluegrass collective Graber Gryass have officially released their second LP, Spaceman's Wonderbox. The LP follows 2020's Late Bloom, and was recorded during the same sessions.
With Spaceman’s Wonderbox, Graber Gryass stretches out, pushing genre limits even further than the traditionally-based Late Bloom.
“We planted ourselves within bluegrass tradition with our first record,” says the band’s namesake and principal songwriter, Michael Graber, “with the intention of branching out and pushing boundaries on our second.” This set of 12 original songs takes influence from a wide-open set of senses and left-of-center benchmarks: 60s pop and psychedelic music, the folk revival, 70s art rock, early jazz, world music, and introspective singer-songwriters, all performed with acoustic instruments. The new record, according to Graber, is “like a radio that’s been left on a volunteer station you hear really late one Saturday night—that’s the concept.” “Spaceman” is what Graber’s bandmates call him, and you can explore their wild, spoken-word release Nectar Drops if you want to follow that line of inquiry even further.
Even the instrumentation goes out on a limb: take traditional bluegrass instruments, add such elements as a homemade bass erhu, harmonium, 12-string and gypsy-jazz guitar, bouzouki, dulcimer, and harmonica as texture.
Now, it’s really the songs that matter on Spaceman’s Wonderbox. “Gravity String” opens the album, fusing Late Bloom’s tradition with the open range of this new collection. “It Was Always You” is a mystical, generational ode sung by Graber’s adult daughter, Rowan Gratz, who couldn’t sing most of her life due to Cystic Fibrosis (thank science for helping the family). “Every Changing Season” outlines the healing role of nature. “River Vow” depicts a spontaneous marriage proposal. “River Bottom, Real Slow” is about the feeling of jumping into the mighty Mississippi River. “Sloppy Seconds” is “popcorn” music; intermission fingerpicking. “Lucky Penny” finds the band at their vaudeville best. “Broke Folk Yolk” and “Your Body’s Border” blend folk forms with transcendental yearning. Both “There’s a Buzz in Every Bottle” and “Drinking Again” weigh the high cost of low-watt living. Then, for some late night lava-lamp, velvety fun, the record ends with a piece of “Strawberry Cake”.
About the Band:
Graber Gryass is an all-original, acoustic jam-grass band from Memphis, Tenn. The band is hitting the festival circuit as soon as safe.
Take an award-winning writer, have him craft songs, and then layer in 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, 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 all while keeping audiences moving and inspired.