Grace Adele and the Grand Band at Trolley Stop
By Rusty Pate
Grace Adele has lived in Nashville four years and can attest to just how ubiquitous the scene is around town. It often offers what she calls “Nashville moments,” which her musical partner Keenan Wade experienced within days of moving to the city.
“When we moved to Nashville [Keenan] said, ‘I’m going to take lessons from Matt Flinner,’” Adele said. “Right when we moved there, he went to the grocery store and he ran into Matt Flinner.”
The two exchanged numbers, and as they were trying to figure out where each other lived, Flinner said, “go out on your porch.” Turns out, they lived just a few doors from each other.
It’s a story that could really only happen in Nashville.
The city now boasts a vibrant indie rock scene, but it was built on the foundation of country music during the heyday of the Grand Ole Opry during the 1930s and 1940s. Adele’s style can perhaps best be described as unapologetically vintage. Mixing elements of classic country, western swing and hints of Appalachian folk, she manages to stay true to a retro vibe without ever coming off as derivative. It’s easy for practitioners of this style to fall into imitation, but Adele manages to walk the fine line between honoring her musical heroes and forging her own path with an effortless deftness.
“I love a lot of classic country and country and western swing,” Adele said. “I like trying to replicate those songs. I just really like the nostalgia of that type of music.”
Adele’s nostalgia for music stretches all the way back through her childhood. She used to get to ballet class early to ensure a spot as close to the piano as possible. Like many kids, she grew up in choirs and theaters, eventually branching out into singing with friends and trying to play out with local bands.
It was her early 20s that songwriting came into the fold. She said she always made up songs as a child, but it became a serious obsession when she first began learning guitar. Adele’s vocals and songwriting prowess may get the bulk of the attention, but Wade’s musicianship should not be overlooked. The pair complements each other well, with Wade steering the ship ever so slightly towards bluegrass and modern Americana. The collaboration has become stronger as of late, with Wade contributing more and more to the songwriting side.
“One of us will have an idea and we’ll be able to finish the song together,” Adele said. “We’ve noticed when you sit down to write a song, at least for us, if we don’t give the song the attention it needs right away, it’s less likely to be finished or hold our attention.”
It is a process that has evolved since her latest album, the 2012 offering The Grand Sessions. Those sessions featured a hodgepodge of Americana heavyweights: Chris Skruggs (BR-549), Buddy Spicher (Asleep at the Wheel), David Mayfield (David Mayfield Parade) and Ketch Secor (Old Crow Medicine Show) all make appearances on a collection that feels more at home on a front porch rather than a honky tonk.
Phil Harris manned the board after Adele fell in love with his work on Pokey LaFarge’s Riverboat Soul.
“I loved the rawness of the Pokey Lafarge record,” Adele said. “My band had been together for four years. We really had the material down and I really loved the feeling of the live performances we would do. I wanted to capture the energy of the main band – the four main players – in the room.”
And the stage is where Adele’s music really belongs. Equally at home covering Bob Wills or the Beatles, the vibe closely resembles something that might crackle to life on your grandmother’s old radio. This is not some half-hearted attempt to cash in on a roots rock fad. These songs grew from a deep love of a bygone era, when nothing mattered more than melody and chords.
Adele stands as a throwback to that time, with hauntingly familiar vocals and a songwriting sensibility that belongs in Nashville.
“We tour quite a bit and everywhere we go, every town has an awesome music scene and amazing players,” Adele said. “What I’ve noticed about Nashville is there are just more of them. In my experience, everyone is extremely humble. I’ve learned so much from musicians in Nashville and I’ve also felt like they’re just extremely approachable. I’m able to take lessons with such a variety of musicians to continue to grow myself.”
Grace Adele and the Grand Band will perform at on Saturday, Feb. 8, The Trolley Stop, 530 E. Fifth St. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, please visit graceadelemusic.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Rusty Pate at RustyPate@DaytonCityPaper.com.