Grassholes to release new album, “Gently Used,” at WMPG Bluegrass Spectacular

It will be an auspicious night in Portland, April 13, as the long-awaited return of the WMPG Bluegrass Spectacular will also serve as an album-release party for the World Famous Grassholes’ 5th studio album, “Gently Used.” The band will have copies of the limited-edition CD on hand for the event at One Longfellow, which will also feature Pejepscot Station and Breakin’ Strings, and the album will be available that day on all major streaming services. 

As one of the longest continuously running bluegrass bands in New England, the Grassholes build on a body of work that includes the out-of-print and unavailable “Rusty and Broken,” from 2002 and recorded by a previous lineup, along with “The Outlaw Janey Jenkins,” “The First Time You Got Scared,” and “South Congress,” which all feature the current lineup of Heather Kahill on fiddle, Merrill Marsh on guitar, Flann O’Brien on bass, Sam Pfeifle on guitar, and Field Rider on banjo. 

“South Congress,” however, represented a step change for the band, resulting in glowing reviews (“It is with a mile-wide grin I point you toward the World Famous Grassholes and their album ‘South Congress,’” Aimsel Ponti, Portland Press Herald) and inclusion in the Grateful Dead Family Discography. 

For “Gently Used,” the Grassholes bring back that successful production team, working again with Jonathan Wyman to capture the nine songs on the album in a fully live environment over the course of an afternoon at the world-renowned Halo recording studio, and calling once again on mastering engineer Chris “C$” Burns to make sure the sounds are properly polished. Fans of the band will recognize Grassholes originals like “Colorado,” “Everything,” and “Walk Right Out” from the past year’s live sets, and will be delighted by the title track, which is a re-recording of an original that first appeared on “First Time You Got Scared,” but this time features Marsh on lead vocals. 

“We love the idea of recycling ‘Gently Used’ for the new album,” said guitarist Sam Pfeifle, “as it gets to the core of what we do as a band, taking up traditional instruments, sounds, and songs and breathing fresh life into them.” This is certainly true for the album’s closing track, a reinterpretation of the Harry Styles’ megahit, “Watermelon Sugar,” where Kahill uses her fiddle to weave the core melody throughout, but the rest of the band use it as a jumping off point for extended improvisational jams. 

The band are excited, too, to release the album at the Bluegrass Spectacular, a fundraiser for community radio station WMPG that returns for an 18th iteration, after a three-year covid hiatus. In 2020, for the release of “South Congress,” the Grassholes were forced to keep things private in consideration of the global pandemic. This year, they have the opportunity to have friends and fans join them at one of Portland’s most prominent venues, and easily the best listening room.

Grassholes release bluegrass “Greensleeves,” hope to help neighbors

Maine’s pre-eminent bluegrass band, The World Famous Grassholes, announce today the release of their Christmas single, “Greensleeves,” a bluegrass take on the 16th-century folk ballad, the music for which has come to back Christmas jingles like “What Child Is This?” by William Chatterton Dix. Sales of the track will benefit the First Congregational Church’s Emergency Fuel Assistance Fund here in New Gloucester.

The band will celebrate the song’s release with “A Very Grassholes Christmas” at Little Tap House, in Portland, December 22, at 7 p.m. Admission is free, with charitable donations encouraged. 

All instrumental, and ringing with the haunting glow of a banjo in minor key, the Grassholes’ take on “Greensleeves” soars with classical fiddle before being yanked back into bluegrass by a hot flat-picked guitar lead. 

The song was recorded live in banjo player Field Rider’s restored 1800s barn in New Gloucester, capably captured by sound engineer Matthew Nelson, currently studying at the USM School of Music. The track resonates with the feel of wood milled from Rider’s land and the warmth of a woodstove burning in the corner. Even better, the all-acoustic, minimally mic’d recording session feels like an homage to the time when the song was first written, so long ago that characters in Shakespeare’s “Merry Wives of Windsor” make reference to it (though there appears to be no truth to the idea that it was composed by Henry VIII as an ode to Boleyn).

And in a nod to the giving season, the Grassholes are asking people to buy the track through Bandcamp, where it is exclusively hosted, so that every dollar collected can go to the First Congregational Church’s Emergency Fuel Assistance Fund here in New Gloucester, Maine (though, of course, people can listen to the song for free if they’d like through the streaming part of the service). All indications are that it may be a rough winter for many, with fuel prices at historical highs, and everyone deserves a warm place to sleep at night. 

The First Congregational Church also holds a special place in the hearts of the Grassholes, as they were kind enough to offer their space as a rehearsal spot for the Grassholes during the pandemic, which allowed the band a socially distanced way of keeping up their chops. The pristine sound in the sanctuary allowed the five-piece band to be far apart and still hear each other well enough to work on material. 

Finally, the Grassholes will celebrate the release of the track and the Christmas season with “A Very Grassholes Christmas,” a show to be held at the Little Tap House, in Portland, on Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. Admission to the show is free, but the band will be asking attendees to do their part by giving to whatever local charity is closest to their hearts this holiday season. And, of course, the Grassholes may decide to trade in their classic hats and boots attire for something more … seasonally appropriate.

Grassholes To Celebrate South Congress Release at Poland Spring, Oct. 4

Boy, howdy, that’s a good looking band.

To celebrate the release of their fourth studio album, “South Congress,” the World Famous Grassholes will be playing an album release party on the lawn at the Poland Spring Resort, with a matinee show Oct. 4, from 2-4 p.m. The event is free, with a $10 suggested donation to the Poland Spring Preservation Society.

The 11-song “South Congress,” released Sept. 18, is already being hailed as an important work in Maine’s storied bluegrass tradition, with singles “Maybe” and “I Do” getting radio with WCLZ, the Greetings from Area Code 207 Radio Hour, and Portsmouth’s WSCA, plus spins from internet radio station BreakThru Radio. A mix of original compositions and selected arrangements of tracks ranging from Hank Williams to Bob Dylan, the album features lead vocals from all five members of the band as well as hot-picking instrumentals.

A limited run of 300 hard copies have been produced of the album and signed copies will be available at the show. Alternately, the album is in wide digital release, available on all your favorite streaming and digital download services. The hard copies are also available through the band’s Bandcamp site.

As the show will be in accordance with all Maine CDC guidance, attendees are encouraged to wear masks if social distancing is not possible and to keep six feet between parties as much as possible. The event is outside, so feel free to bring blankets and snacks and beverages. Attendance is limited to the first 90 people to arrive.

World Famous Grassholes To Release Fourth Studio Album, “South Congress,” on Sept. 18

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:

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

2018 – The First Time You Got Scared

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.

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

Photo credit Lindsay Raymondjack.

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:


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.


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!


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:


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

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