GRAY, MAINE — The World Famous Grassholes, one of the longest continuously running bluegrass bands in New England, will release their new full-length album, “South Congress,” on Sept. 18. It will be available on all streaming services and in hard copy.
Starting August 28, however, the album will be available exclusively on Bandcamp, where fans can purchase digital downloads: https://worldfamousgrassholes.bandcamp.com/album/south-congress
This is the Grassholes’ fourth studio album:
2002 – Rusty and Broken (now out of print and not on streaming services)
2018 – The Outlaw Janey Jenkins
2020 – South Congress
Longtime fans of the band also have traded for years a series of underground recordings made in the 2000s, “The Sunday Sessions,” “Two Sundays,” and “Sunday Sessions 2,” similar to Dylan’s so-called Basement Tapes.
Further, the Grassholes released a live album, “Live at the St. Lawrence,” in 2008 (the band retain roughly 6 copies of this album, and it is not currently available on streaming), and were featured as part of a WMPG release, “WMPG Bluegrass Spectacular,” with three tracks, alongside the Muddy Marsh Ramblers and Jerks of Grass.
“This is a whole new level for the Grassholes, though,” said guitarist Sam Pfeifle. “The current line-up has been together just shy of a decade now and we’ve never been playing better. What we captured in the studio this winter is the best we’ve ever sounded.”
With producer Jonathan Wyman (whose work with the Pretty Reckless recently earned him a gold record and a feature in Billboard Magazine) at the Halo, in Westbrook, the World Famous Grassholes were able to record 11 tracks completely live and in a single day, using Wyman’s array of microphones to create a warm, inviting sound that’s true to their live shows, where they play and harmonize around a single condenser microphone.
“It was a frantic pace to try to get all that in just 8 hours, especially since we didn’t get anything usable in the first three hours or so,” said Pfeifle, “but then we locked in and nailed a bunch of single takes. Good thing weed is legal in this state.”
Lastly, for the final polish, the band worked with C Money Burns at Cosmic Black, in Portland, ME, for a mastering job that really makes each individual instrument pop.
The band released a first single, Field Rider’s “Too Many People,” as a video earlier this month, and will be pushing the second single, “I Do,” written by Pfeifle, to radio this month. Already, Merrill Marsh’s arrangement of the Fred Rose/Hank Williams number “I’m Satisfied with You” has been getting play on Portsmouth’s WSCA.
Other highlights on the album include a duet between fiddler Heather Kahill and Pfeifle covering Shovels & Rope’s “Boxcar” and bass player Flann O’Brien’s soulful take on Peter Rowan’s “Walls of Time.”
However, the core of the album are the seven original tunes, which also include the new instrumental, “Industry Canter,” a companion to the previously released “West Gray Gallop,” and a new take on “Maybe,” which first appeared on “First Time You Got Scared.”
“It’s a fan favorite,” said Pfeifle, “so we wanted to capture the way that song has evolved over the years, especially with the a capella ending.”
The band will celebrate the album’s release with an exclusive, invite-only concert Sept. 17, so as to maintain social distancing in this time of pandemic.