Grain Thief is a Boston-based bluegrass quintet keeping string band music alive and well in New England.
Earlier this year, the band released their latest single, “Pedal Down,” which is a foot-tappin, barn-burnin’ little number with a joyful instrumental intro, leading into a fun, down-home tune somewhat akin to that of Old Crow Medicine Show and Blues Traveler.
Though released in the dead of winter, I can hear this song on a warm spring and summer day dispersing through car windows driving down winding country roads, or performed on stage at an outdoor festival. To me, this song has sunshine and hittin’ the road all over it.
The group is comprised of Patrick Mulroy (guitar, vocals), Zach Meyer (mandolin, vocals), Michael Harmon (bass, vocals), Tom Farrell (lead guitar), and Alex Barstow on fiddle.
We asked the fellas some questions to better learn about them and their release.
Who: Grain Thief
What: Our new single release, “Pedal Down”
When: We recorded it in November, released on January 17, 2020.
About the release: This is the first recorded track for our upcoming album release. It’s our tribute to getting older. Musically, it is representative of our recent sound: a 5-piece string band with driving bass, strong violin and mandolin melodies and thoughtful, clever lyrical content. We recorded it all live as a group and at Wachusett Recording in Princeton, MA.
What’s next: Next up is finishing the album. We’ve got close to a dozen new songs that we are excited to put down and release to the public. The new stuff is far more well-developed and mature. We feel that it really reflects who Grain Thief is as a band and helps us really develop a signature sound and feel.
Three records on a desert island: We’ve got a lot of diverse influence:
Mike: Joe’s Garage by Frank Zappa
Zach: Doggystyle by Snoop Dog
Tom: The Bends by Radiohead
Favorite part about touring: Bringing our music to lots of new people. Playing in new and interesting venues every night. Getting to see lots of different places. Jamming with the locals, and learning new stuff all the time. Good food, and taking time off of work.
Least favorite part about touring: Shared beds, hotel floors and long drives. Not being able to really experience the cities you play in because of the time crunch to get to the next gig.
Favorite food while on the road: We are adventurous eaters; whatever the local flavor is. BBQ in Nashville, biscuits in Asheville and lobster in Maine. We also usually stock up on Tostitos, hummus, and carrots. If PBR counts, that should be on the list too.
Song/artist you can’t stop listening to:
Ted Hawkins – “Sorry You’re Sick”
Freddie Fender – “When the Last Teardrop Falls”
Favorite way to spend a Friday night: Good food, good people, good tunes. When we aren’t on the road or gigging, we can usually be found jamming somewhere with friends.
Last movie or TV show you watched: The Righteous Gemstones
What Boston does better than other cities: Irish Pubs. The Burren in Somerville MA, is our home away from home and we play there every Wednesday.
What the rest of 2020 might have in store for Grain Thief: We will be recording our new album in March and releasing it for the summer festival season. We will be playing Ossipee Valley Music Festival, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Smoked Country Jam and more to come. We are likely going to play a few dates with the Still House Junkies as well. We will continue our Wednesday night residency at the Burren. Keep checking our site for new videos and content because we are constantly releasing stuff to keep our fans entertained.
Closing words: It’s an exciting time for the band. We are cruising on momentum gained during last year’s festival season, and we’re gaining fans and accruing listens all over the place. We’ve got new material we are excited about and are proud to release. We’ve got bigger, better shows and festivals lined up in the next few months. We will be playing at many radio stations and expect to get radio play nationwide. We are hoping to capitalize on our recent achievements and really expand our base.