MEET THE BAND: Cory Grinder (vocals, fiddle and rhythm guitar), Jason Willis (bass), Stephen "Tebbs" Karney (pedal steel), Anthony Papaleo (guitar and fiddle) and Roy King (drums)
BACKGROUND: While Grinder plays old school country music now, he didn't group up listening to that style of music. "I heard country-pop on the radio but didn't care for it at all," says Grinder, who grew up in Kent. "I played violin at a young age but wasn't crazy about classical music. In high school, I started to discover gypsy jazz and bluegrass and country music like Hank Williams, stuff I was never exposed to as a child. It just blew my mind. Once I heard Hank Williams, I never looked back, and I have been obsessed with old country music ever since." Originally, Grinder played in bands such as Johnny & the Apple Stompers, Fast Molasses, and Rodney and the Regulars. "I was co-fronting Johnny & the Apple Stompers, and we played solid there for a minute," he says. "Sometimes, it was bluegrass and sometimes jazz. It was always hillbilly music." He recruited a few of those former band mates to join him as the Cory Grinder Band.
IT CAME FROM CANTON: Local singer-songwriter David Mayfield mixed Cory Grinder Band's new album, Cahoots and Other Favorites, with Abby Rose, who served as assistant engineer, at Sweetwide Recording Company in Canton. Featured musicians include Mayfield on vocals, baritone guitar and high-strung guitar, Kevin Johnson on six-string bass and rhythm guitar, and Rose and Jennifer Ann Wichryk on vocals. "David is a guy who's done quite well for himself," says Grinder. "He knows old country music and loves it. He has the old microphones and the know-how to do it. It's great. He had just opened up, and we were the first group to record. This is the first thing I've recorded with this group. I've always done the mixing and recording myself, so it was good to put that in someone else's hands and just focus on writing and performing."
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: "Crazy As Me," the album's twangy first track, features the freewheeling vibe of a Blasters number as Grinder practically yodels his way through the tune. "I've written some stinkers that have never seen the light of day," he says, "but I put song together and thought it was alright. It was one good step in the right direction, and it pays tribute to the days of the Apple Stompers and doing fast rag songs that are pretty wild. Once I had that song and the title track, I knew I wanted to make a honky-tonk album." For the live shows, Grinder says he relies heaviliy on his pedal steel player. "I'm fortune to know some great players and the leads they take are hot," he says. "I have this beaming smile when I play live because of that. I just try to have a good time, and we poke fun of ourselves a bit. We try to look the part and wear the Western shirts. I will usually don a powder blue suit and try to look like an old country star at the Grand Ole Opry."
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: corygrinderband.com.
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Cory Grinder Band performs with the Cave Twins at 8 p.m on Friday, Aug. 17, at the Venice Café in Kent and with the Prime Prines at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the Beachland Tavern.