World Famous Grassholes To Play First Show Ever in Freeport

After nearly two decades of criss-crossing Maine, playing shows from Andover to York, Kittery to Waterville, the World Famous Grassholes will make their first ever appearance in Freeport with a March 12 show at Cadenza. As Freeport’s premiere venue for live music, with the best sound north of Portland and impeccable taste, Cadenza is the ideal spot for seeing Maine’s hottest bluegrass band take the stage.

“We’re really excited to play the home of LL Bean,” said Sam Pfeifle, frontman and guitarist. “It’s almost like we’re opening up our own little outlet store, except we’re selling hot licks and tight harmonies instead of cool boots and loose flannels.”

Attendees will get an early preview of songs recently recorded with producer Jonathan Wyman, to be released in June as their third album, “South Congress.” All five Grassholes now have lead vocals on their resume and the band has really expanded their range and dynamism, with everything from heartbreaking waltzes to rip-roaring boot stompers.

No worries, though, these Grassholes aren’t trying to get all contemporary on ya. They’re still focused around one mic, and you’ll get your fill of banjo and fiddle licks. Add those to country twang and some of the crispest lyrical turns outside of Nashville’s songwriter clubs and you’ve got yourself a hell of a good time.

“Some people, they don’t really like to have fun,” noted Pfeifle. “They shouldn’t come to our shows, for sure. They’re going to have a bad time. It will just be too fun for them.”

For tickets, $12 in advance, $15 on the day of show, visit www.cadenzafreeport.com.

Photo credit Lindsay Raymondjack.

Grassholes join Old Eleven, Miners Creek for WMPG Bluegrass Spectacular

After a one-year hiatus, the World Famous Grassholes return to the WMPG Bluegrass Spectacular on December 9, joined by Old Eleven and Miners Creek, who’ll both be making their Spectacular debuts.

“It’s so great to be back at the Spectacular,” said Grassholes guitarist Sam Pfeifle. “Last year, I had a stupid job that made participating impossible. I have now remedied that situation.”

The Grassholes were part of the first 16 years of the event, as it moved from the St. Lawrence Church to the Barn at Flanagan Farm to One Longfellow, and recorded a live album in 2003 as part of the event, though only a scant few copies remain. Now, the band are excited to welcome Old Eleven and Miners Creek to the fold.

Old Eleven features a cast of veterans, including guitarist Lincoln Meyers, who played the Spectacular with New England Bluegrass Band, and mandolinist Taylor Smith, who once played as part of Cumberland Crossing. Miners Creek hail from the Midcoast and released their third album, All Stoved Up, in 2018. Now they are part of a collection of bands — including Jerks of Grass, the Tricky Britches, Intergalactic Yurt Band, Flight 317, Cumberland Crossing, New England Bluegrass Band, Al Hawkes, Red-Eyed Fox, Tumbling Bones — and probably some others no one can remember.

“It’s always a really special night,” said Pfeifle. “Everyone’s donating their time, everyone’s psyched to listen to some bluegrass, and that makes everyone really play their hearts out. Plus, it really sounds great for acoustic music in One Longfellow. You can hear every note — which can be a bit scary!”

“We appreciate MGM’s accommodation of the band’s participation in this WMPG benefit concert,” said Grassholes banjo player Field Rider. “European tour schedule changes will be posted soon.”

“We also appreciate Sam’s stupid job for firing him,” noted Merrill Marsh, Grassholes guitarist.

All proceeds from the show — $12 in advance, $15 at the door — go to WMPG, a true gem of a community radio station, which provides air play and attention to so many genres outside of the mainstream.

Want to come? Get tix here: I really like bluegrass and having fun.

Gazebo Tour of Maine Dubbed ‘Wild Success’

One summer, five towns in Maine, one gym, four gazebos: The first-annual World Famous Grassholes Gazebo Tour of Maine is in the books and was nothing short of a “wild success.”

We know, because that’s what we dubbed it: a “wild success.” Not any sort of “tame success.” That would have been lame.

Despite an auspicious debut of the tour in Gorham, where rain forced the initial gazebo show to be relocated to the Shaw Gym, the tour’s momentum was undeniable, taking the Grassholes to packed gigs in Falmouth, Poland Springs, York, and Andover though the summer and delighting fans with some of the band’s best-ever performances.

“It’s funny,” said guitarist Sam Pfeifle, “the gazebos really seemed to suit our brand of performance. Being outside, we could crank the amp, really dig into our solos, and interact with a new audience who were often coming to the Grassholes for the first time.” Yes, the tour was so good that Sam said something sincere and not sarcastic or ironic in any way. That’s how successful it was.

For those of you who weren’t able to make it out, here’s a recap:

Gorham

Well, this was kind of a lame way to kick things off. We got rained out, so moved into the gym, where we played in front of those weird padding things underneath the basketball basket, which sucked up all the back-slap and kind of deadened the sound in general.

However, we still had about 25 people in attendance, and they were enthusiastic and generally seemed like nice people. One of them even bought a Grassholes patch!

Best of all, we got a cool video out of it, which you can check out here:

Thank you Gorham Community Access! Hopefully, next year we’ll get to actually hit the gazebo and make a better video.

Falmouth

We had lots of people say they had a hard time finding this particular gazebo (yo, it’s next to the Ice Arena!), but, in the end, this show was packed. Easily 150 people in lawn chairs and on blankets. Some local retirement spots even bussed people in.

This one started out a bit surreal, since there were doing some kind of seated yoga that involved lots of fake laughing while we were loading in, but once we got started all the laughs were genuine – Sam came up with his “river in Brazil” joke here for listening to us on Amazon and people went for it in a big way. Also, they were giving out free ice cream sandwiches, which put everyone in a good move. Really, they should just have people giving out ice cream sandwiches by the side of the road on a regular basis and many of the world’s problems would be quickly solved.

They even took video. Check out this good one someone posted to Facebook of a rousing rendition of “Orange Blossom Special” (click here and then scroll down to the comments).

Even though it’s off of a weird parking lot kind of behind Wal-Mart, Falmouth has a damn fine gazebo set-up. We look forward to revisiting this joint.

Poland Springs

With no offense to any other gazebos out there, Poland Springs has the best gazebo set up we’ve encountered: sitting up on a hill, with the sunset in the background and rows of white chairs set up in front, and the Poland Springs Inn sitting even farther back, where some people listen from the front porch.

We mean:

And that’s what you get from Field’s crappy 2009 iphone!

Truthfully, though, we raged these two sets. The weather was perfect, people were super into it, and we had a blast. Heck, we even helped drum up $340 for the 50/50 raffle.

In particular, this show was where the audience really responded to our originals: “Maybe,” “Gently Used,” and “Janey” all went over big. And we would have played “Pedicab Pervert” too, except Field forgot how to play it and we decided to quickly move on.

Nor was the experience ruined by the fact that Sam picked up a screw in the parking lot somehow and had a flat tire when he went to leave. A very nice fan stuck around and helped out with an electric pump and it was all no big deal at all!

York

Jiminy Cricket: If you haven’t been to Ellis Park in York, you should. It’s part of a great little beach resort York is rocking. Who knew? Probably lots of people, we guess, but it was new to most of us (Field lived there 30 years ago or something, but he can’t remember much from that long ago, so it seemed new all over again).

The gazebo sits right in front of the beach, with the waves crashing like crazy, so we had to really crank the amp, which made for a good time, in general. The crowd was a little more transient, since people play the gazebo just about every day and the shows are more part of the overall experience of going to the beach and then grabbing a couple of beers afterward, but there were a ton of folks there in total, including a nice little girl who came up and asked us to play “Wagon Wheel,” so we did.

(Side note: If you’re a band too snooty to play “Wagon Wheel,” or a venue that “bans” the song, you’ve got a serious disconnect with what music is all about. People want to hear songs they like and have a good time and connect with the band. If “Wagon Wheel” is your only connection to stringband music, we’re going to play the hell out of that song and make you happy as hell.)

Anyway, that girl was cute as hell and we hear she ended up asking for a Grassholes-themed birthday party after seeing us. Smart kid!

Also, in case you were doubting us, we looked like this that night, so obviously we sounded amazing:

Andover

Man, Andover was really, really cool. Thanks to Pete Coolidge and his Andover Summer Concert Series, we got to travel to a town none of us had ever visited before, a little place just north of Rumford with an amazing town green, filled with big oaks and surrounded by beautiful old homes and a big white church.

The sound was incredible, with just a bit of echo off the buildings, and maybe 200 people came out to set up on the lawn and check us out. It was great to see people dancing and moving around and just enjoying being out together in front of a band on a beautiful Friday night.

Unfortunately, Flann wasn’t available for this one, but we managed not to lose our rhythm entirely and Sam got to make fun jokes about losing our bass player on the way to the gig (has anyone seen him?!?!).

Just look at this setup:

 

We also busted out our new Sam-Heather duet “Saw That Smile,” which went over great, and finished up just before the big thunderstorm rolled in and chased everyone away.

We’re not sure what it means, but we definitely should note that during one of the driest Maine summers on record, we got rained out once, and then had rain start immediately after our York and Andover gigs.

World Famous Grassholes: Making it rain in 2019!

World Famous Grassholes To Embark on Gazebo Tour of Maine

PORTLAND—The World Famous Grassholes, Maine’s premiere bluegrass band, will embark this June on a Gazebo Tour of Maine, setting what is potentially a record for most Maine gazebos played in one summer by a Maine band.

“We haven’t checked anywhere, or done any research whatsoever, but five seems like a lot, so we’re saying it’s a record unless someone can prove otherwise,” said singer/guitarist Sam Pfeifle.

The World Famous Grassholes will play:

Gorham’s Gazebo, June 25, at 6 p.m.
Falmouth’s Gazebo, July 29, at 6:30 p.m.
Poland Spring’s Gazebo, August 5, at 6 p.m.
York’s Gazebo, August 8, at 6:30 p.m.
Andover’s Gazebo, August 9, at 6 p.m.

More information about each gig can be found at www.WorldFamousGrassholes.com.

At each of these fine gazebos, people will be able to hear some classic bluegrass, played around one mic, and featuring tunes by the likes of Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, and the Carter Family, along with plenty of originals penned by the band right here in the great state of Maine. Current Grassholes include Pfeifle, world-renowned fiddler and singer Heather Kahill, guitarist and singer Merrill Marsh (recently voted as best wearer of vests by Vest Wearer magazine), bassist and singer Flann O’Brien (fresh off a tour of Ireland), and banjo player and songwriter Field Rider, who already owns the record for most motorized vehicles owned by a single person in Maine. 

Even more shockingly, the World Famous Grassholes will actually be paid to perform at each and every one of these gazebos. They’re, like, real gigs.

“We’d just like to thank each and every one of the parks and rec departments that booked us this summer,” said Pfeifle. “Each and every one of them have shown they have great taste in music and are exceptionally bright.”

Attendees will also be able to purchase at these concerts a limited-edition World Famous Grassholes Trucker Hat, which comes with its very own Grassholes logo sewn onto the front.

“This is really exciting for us,” said Pfeifle, “to be sponsored by Trucker Hats. They obviously had lots of options available to them, so deciding to put the Grassholes logo on their Trucker Hats was a huge decision, and we really laud them for taking a chance on the World Famous Grassholes. We’re confident that we’ll be able to really increase the popularity of Trucker Hats, which up till this point are relatively obscure, especially in Portland, Maine.”

Those interested in hearing the World Famous Grassholes right this minute, because they can’t wait a minute longer, can find the band on all the popular streaming services, which are on computers and phones everywhere (so we’ve been told).

The best bet is Spotify: World Famous Grassholes.

For More Information:

Sam Pfeifle, Singer/Guitarist, World Famous Grassholes
207-749-0298
sampfeifle@gmail.com
www.WorldFamousGrassholes.com

How to Play: “The Man Upstairs”

Essentially, Sam decided to write an original EAB blues piece so that he’d have something that sounds like Folsom Prison Blues, but wouldn’t actually be Folsom Prison Blues, although we still play Folsom Prison Blues sometimes, if the mood is right. But then we don’t play this song in the same set.

Sometimes, you just gotta lay into an EAB. Works as any other 1-4-5, though, if you want to screw around with the key and see how it sounds. It’s not bad in A.

Verse 1
E
The man upstairs, he’s got a plan for me

A
The man upstairs, he’s got a plan for me (ee-ee)

E                      B7                    E
He told me he want me to be free

E
The man upstairs, he told me what to do

A
The man upstairs, he told me what to do (oo-oo)

E                      B7                    E
But he ain’t never told me about you

BREAK

Verse 2
E
The man upstairs, he says he likes me fine

A
The man upstairs, he says he likes me fine (i-ine)

E                      B7                    E
He told me to go ahead and get mine

E
Now the man upstairs, he don’t look quite right

A
The man upstairs, now, he don’t look quite right (i-ight)

E                      B7                    E
Got to get a look in that morning light

BREAK

Verse 3
E
Now the man upstairs, he’s got a grimace on his face

A
The man upstairs, he’s got a grimace on his face (a-ace)

E                      B7                    E
Got to get him some of that ‘mazing grace

E
Now the man upstairs, well he ain’t there no more

A
Yeah the man upstairs, now, he ain’t there no more (o-ore)

E                      B7                    E
Got to get me off of that ground floor (that’s right)

E                      B7                    E
Got to get me off of that ground floor

And finish with a big punctuation on the last hit of the E from the turn around. This is an indictment or organized religion we’re doing here. You’re kind of angry. But also giving yourself a little pep talk. You’ve beat him.

Anyway, give it a listen and see how you stack up:

How to play: “Gently Used”

This one is a barn burner. Sam wrote this one based on a text message he got from Angelique down in DC where she told a story about some kind of free box of stuff labeled “gently used,” and then commented that it would be a good name for a song. And so it was.

Verse: C [yep, just C]

Chorus: G C F C C G F C

Verse 1
C
I been beat up, kicked around

C
I spent my time in jail

C
I tried to woo you with love letters

C
Through the US Mail

Chorus
                 G                         C
I’m so glad that you found me

F                      C
Gently used, gently used

C                         G
I’m so glad that you found me

F                      C
Gently used, gently used

Verse 2
C
So what is it that I

C
Never got quite right?

C
Lead me down that yellow road

C
I’ll try with all my might

CHORUS

Verse 3
C
Sleepless nights and endless dawns

C
I’m always out too late

C
You think maybe I’ll come around

C
But I’m afraid it’s much too late

CHORUS

And finish the last chorus with a little, bump-bump-budda-bump-bump-bump, kind of finish. And arch your voice up a little in that last vocalization to let everyone know it’s the end.

How to play: “Kicked in the Shins”

Sam wrote this song mostly as a way to practice using his pinky to sweeten up chords when it wasn’t doing anything else, and so it’s a two-chord song that’s sorta three chords because you really need to play the C chord differently in the verse and chorus.

We’ll use pictures.

Verse: C (weird, see illustration below) G


But Sam keeps his pointer finger up on the B string at the first fret so he can move that pinky on the third fret around to sweeten and sour the chord at his discretion and not lose the voice of the C chord.

Chorus: C (normalish, as per below) G


Sam doesn’t normally play the C chord with the high E fretted at all, but he does use his pinky for that here, and he sees on the internets that lots of people do, thus “normalish.” He’s weird. Whatever. Do what you want. But it sounds cool if you use these two basic settings for C, and then just move your pinky around a lot, especially in the verse, over which the leads go if you’re playing with a band.

Also, it’s important that the leads retain the grouping of three back and forths between the C and G. That’s vital to the song. The whole “in threes” thing, even though the song is in 4/4.

Also, find someone to sing it with you. This is really a guy-girl duet and it will sound better that way. Unless the other person can’t sing, or you can’t, and then it will sound sucky, but no big deal on that. You’re just playing in your living room or whatever. It’s not like you’re ACTUALLY the World Famous Grassholes.  You’re just playing our songs.

Verse 1
C (weird)                                                                             G
Ever since you went away, the stars don’t come out at night

C                                                                                  G
Ever since you went away, the sun don’t shine as bright (oh no)

C                                                                                  G
Ever since you went away, my hands just don’t feel right

Chorus
C (normalish)
Ever since you went away

G
Ever since you went away

C
Ever since you went away

G
Ever since you went away

Verse 2
C (weird)                                                                     G
Ever since you went away, the tides just don’t come in

C                                                                                          G
Ever since you went away, I can’t tell my thick from my thin (oh no)

C                                                                                              G
Ever since you went away, I feel like I been kicked in the shins

CHORUS

Verse 3
C (weird)                                                                   G
Ever since you went away, I can’t seem to find my cat

C                                                                                                 G
Ever since you went away, I can’t seem to my head into my hat

C                                                                                         G
Ever since you went away, I can’t tell my this from my that

CHORUS

Coda
C (weird)                                                                                                  G
Ever since you went away, ever since you went away, ever since you went away

C (weird)                                                                                G
Why did you go away, why did you go away, why did you go away

C
Oh, baby come home

G
Oh, baby come home

And at the end there you sorta let the C and G ring out on those last “home”s and do a sorta a capella thing where you hold the “home” from the first line and then sing “oh, baby come home” all slow and important-seeming, holding the last “home” so it sounds like you’re a good singer. It works better as a duet, for real.

Check it out:

How to play: “Maybe”

This is the title track of sorts off of our second record, The First Time You Got Scared. It’s called “Maybe,” but that’s the first line of the second verse and Sam thought it sounded cool and so, voila, the name of a record. Nice of him to consult everyone.

Anyhoo … some of you may find this similar to just about every song that Bob Dylan wrote, but that’s kind of unfair since these are all the best chords and Dylan can’t just have them. You can make a lot of hay with these four chords. We recommend you learn them and keep them handy for other bluegrass and folks songs.

Verse: G D Am C G D C C

Chorus: G D Am C G D Am Am

Verse 1

G                               D                    Am                           C
Whaddaya gonna do, when it all comes down to you?

G                               D                             C                           C
Whaddaya gonna do when they’re gone?

G                               D                 Am                           C
Whaddaya gonna be when it all comes down to history?

G                               D                             C                           C
When you gonna find out what you want?

Chorus

G             D     Am C                               G
Maybe, oh, maybe you’re coming home

Am
Maybe you’re not

G             D     Am C                               G
Maybe, oh, maybe you’re coming home

Am
Maybe you’re not

Verse 2

G         D                    Am                           C
I saw you the first time you go scared

G        D                         C                           C
I saw you caught in a lie

G            D                          Am                           C
I saw it all when you’re pushed up against the wall

G           D                             C                           C
I think maybe I saw you die

CHORUS

Verse 3

G              D                   Am              C
You told me it would all be alright

G                      D                             C                           C
You told me things would be fine

G                     D                                   Am                           C
You said the one thing wrong was playing this stupid song

G                          D                             C                           C
You said you’d see me down the line

CHORUS

FINISH

In the last chorus, go a capella for the middle of three go-rounds. It sounds really cool if you don’t suck at singing.

Listen here and compare your singing to the Grassholes’!

How to play: “Janey”

The title track off The Outlaw Janey Jenkins, this was the first World Famous Grassholes song, written in 2003, just before birth of Sam’s first kid. It contains all his hopes and dreams for his daughter’s future. Or something like that.

Note that it’s important to start the song with a banjo “doo-doo-doo-doodle-doodle-doo” and then a bass “bum-bum-bum” walk up to the D. Very important. Like, you can’t play the song without it. Seriously.

Verse: D D C G (for as long as you’d like)

Chorus: A G A D A G A C/G

Verse 1

D                                                            C                      G
Janey cut a switchback down the steep mountainside

D                                C                 G
Faster to drive her car into town

D                                                C                      G
Asked about her methods, Janey up and lied

D                                                C                      G
Said I swear to God, those trees just fell down

Chorus

A                        G
Jane, oh she’s an outlaw

A                  D
Jane, she’s such a catch, yeah

A                             G
Jane, yeah she’s an outlaw

A                   C                     G
And, Jane, she’s coming home to you

Verse 2
D                                                            C                             G
Now Janey she’s a looker, so you know that no one cared

D                                                            C                             G
If she’d a been an ugly girl they’d thrown her straight in jail

D                                                                          C                        G
But she’s the cutest thing you’ll see, the boys all stop and stare

D                                                              C                      G
They put her picture in a frame and hang it on a nail

CHORUS

Verse 3
D                                                            C                   G
Janey drives a pickup, she does donuts on the ice

D                                                            C                     G
All the guys, they come around, just hoping she’ll drown

D                                                                          C                        G
But even when she’s going down, she can’t say nothing nice

D                                             C                      G
Says, “I swear to god, I’m too big for this town”

CHORUS
WICKED AWESOME JAM

Coda:

A                        G
Jane, oh she’s an outlaw

A                  D
Jane, she’s such a catch

And make sure you end all staccato on the “such a catch” finish and then mute your strings so it’s nice and crisp and clean. If you’re any good, everyone will finish at the same time.

Listen here and see if it sounds the same (or better!):