The Grass is Dead and South Hill Banks will perform tomorrow night at 7 at the State Theatre as part of The Grass is Dead’s 2020 Tour.
Both groups consider themselves as having been based in Bluegrass music, but with a little something more. Grass is Dead drummer and vocalist, Brian Drysdale, said that their bluegrass is heavily influenced by The Grateful Dead, hence the name The Grass is Dead.
“The live performances bring into view a traditional sensibility of bluegrass, swing and folk music launched directly onto a psychedelic paintbrush of modern influences, most importantly, the music of The Grateful Dead,” Drysdale said.
He also said that the band’s leader, Billy Gilmore, allows each musician to have input in each show and encourages a free-flow of communication between musicians on stage. This means that each show is different, with different instrumentalists taking different turns and routes through the music each time they play a song.
Drysdale explains that the great thing about the spirit of The Dead that Gilmore brings to the band is that improvisation is also incredibly encouraged and it makes it to be fresh and fun for all of the guys.
South Hill Banks mandolin player, Eric Horrocks, described their band’s sound as “jam infused bluegrass,” and also mentioned that their live shows include psychedelic elements. He said that they have bluegrass instrumentation but they use different effects with the electric instruments and that they stretch the songs and break from the traditional pattern of bluegrass tracks.
Dan Fiasconaro, South Hill Banks’ vocalist and acoustic guitar player, added that they also draw influences from rock-and-roll and psychedelic music. He also emphasized the fact that they like to stray from the small box of Bluegrass music as it would be expected.
“We allow ourselves to jam, and have a free experience, a free space,” Fiasconaro said. “Traditional bluegrass is rigid in a lot of ways, so this is a nice way to kind of break out of that box.”
Like The Grass is Dead, Horrocks said that especially when they are playing multiple nights in a row in the same area, they are sure to change up their setlist. He mentions how every show is different, whether someone went the night before or three nights in a row, they will not hear the same thing.
The band first got to know each other through an event hosted by South Hill Banks in Virginia, the South Hill Snowdown.
“We got to know them and invited them to play in Richmond for the first time together, and you know, just kind of linked up, you know we both enjoyed each other’s sound,” Horrocks said.
Drysdale said that this show will have something for everyone, even if they don’t expect it to. He states that the show brings two different worlds of music together and the audience will be impressed.
“I think that’s what’s great about the show. It brings together two different worlds of music and collides them together in a way that even people who may not be Dead Heads or people that may not even like bluegrass or whatever will go, “Hey, I really liked y’all’s show,’” Drysdale said.
Tickets are on sale for $12 on The State Theatre’s website.