Hardworking GRITS finally goes on record with 'TN Weather'

GRITS from Dumplin Valley looks to extend its reach into large concerts and festivals this year and the band’s new album, “TN Weather.” The band is, from left, Rick Sharp,  Mark Havely, Rob Higginbotham and Noe Cruz.

GRITS from Dumplin Valley looks to extend its reach into large concerts and festivals this year and the band’s new album, “TN Weather.” The band is, from left, Rick Sharp, Mark Havely, Rob Higginbotham and Noe Cruz.

Although GRITS From Dumplin Valley has been a hardworking regional act for the past seven years, the band only recently unveiled its debut recording effort, “TN Weather.” The band, which averages more than 100 shows a year, at long last has a keepsake to offer its devotees, but fans of the group’s original songs may have to wait a bit longer.

The 14-track album does include four GRITS originals, accompanied by a mixed bag of live favorites that re-envision tunes from B.B. King to Bob Dylan to The Staple Singers with GRITS’s token blues rendering. The act tells that future outings will further explore its original offerings as they are developed, and given the speed of its recording process, a sophomore follow-up could potentially be just around the corner.

“Believe it or not, we recorded the tracks in one day and had only one take on every song except one, which we started over due to the tempo being too fast,” says drummer Mark Havely, who founded the band with bassist Noe Cruz, “We recorded 24 songs and selected the 14 that we felt best represented our ‘TN Weather’ concept, offering extremely diverse musical styles on our debut. Our advance preparation and the developed talent of the players enabled us to pull off this amazing feat in one day.”

Recorded in Nashville, the act called upon an old friend, Chris Marion, to provide additional keys and vocals as well as his sound engineering talent and studio. Best known for his membership in Little River Band, Marion frequently accompanies GRITS on stage and was pivotal in persuading the band to take the next step by laying down its first record.

“Having sat in with us back in December, (Chris) suggested that we get a promotional CD ASAP,” Havely recalls of his former college roommate’s encouragement. “(He) also noted the potential for our band to expand our horizons far past the local music environment. When Chris is not touring, he plays with GRITS on select shows.”

“I’ve known Mark Havely for 33 years,” endorses Marion. “We met in college, were roommates and band mates in many musical ensembles through the years. I became acquainted with GRITS a couple of years ago when they opened for Little River Band in Dandridge. But I got very excited about the band when I had an opportunity to sit in with them for an actual gig and became convinced that we needed to record a CD of their music.”

Approaching its third year, The Dumplin Valley Farm Concert Series, held on Havely’s Jefferson City property (549 E. Dumplin Valley Road, across from Mt. Horeb Elementary School), has grown on all fronts. Incorporating new sponsorships and offerings, the family-friendly event provides concessions; a built-in babysitter in the form of an expanded Kid Zone with inflatable bounce houses, slides, cotton candy and snow cones; and a new all-weather pavilion currently under construction. This year’s lineup includes a wide range of acts, including JayStorm, The Natti Lovejoys, Josiah Atchley, Traci Howerton, Lost Creek, Elisa Rodriguez and others TBA.

n The third season of The Dumplin Valley Farm Concert Series kicks off Saturday, featuring performances by Cruiser Mike and Hot Asphalt and, of course, GRITS From Dumplin Valley. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. with music to follow at 7:30. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 for adults, $1 for students of all ages and no charge for children under five. Coolers are welcome. GRITS will have copies of its debut on hand for a special price of $9.

n HOT FOR TEACHER: Saturday night The Well hosts a night of prog rock featuring Asian Teacher Factory, Mobility Chief, 3 Tree and Appalachian Fury. Music kicks off at 10 p.m. and costs $5.

n RISING AGAIN: Dead Confederate (Athens, Ga.) comes to Knoxville, playing The Bowery Wednesday night with Roadkill Ghost Choir. Doors open at 8 p.m. with music slated for 9. Tickets are $7 in advance or $10 at the door. A $2 surcharge applies for attendees over 18 but under 21.

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