The Cory Grinder Band will drop its debut album, “Cahoots and Other Favorites,” Aug. 17. The release contains 13 original tracks, which frontman Cory Grinder describes as “hillbilly music that’s easy to play, fun to dance to and goofy.”
Although his songwriting is reminiscent of icons like Merle Haggard and George Jones, Grinder, a trained violinist, didn’t grow up listening to the classic country music that influences him today.
“Everything that I heard, popwise, on the radio was not something I wanted to hear,” Grinder said. “And it’s got a really complicated history of being hillbilly music that they wanted to make more marketable.”
He didn’t initially see himself as a songwriter either. Grinder cut his teeth backing up other Northeast Ohio groups, including Johnny & the Apple Stompers, Fast Molasses and Rodney and The Regulars, on fiddle.
That is until he wrote the song “Crazy As Me,” the first track on his own band’s upcoming album. Grinder invited old music pals Stephen “Tebbs” Karney and Jason Willis to flesh out his original material on pedal steel guitar and upright bass, respectively, to create a fuller, hard-hitting sound.
The project, which would come to be dubbed The Cory Grinder Band, consists of these three core members, with the addition of drums and electric guitar on the album and sitting in for live performances.
Reviving a classic music genre
Grinder appears on the cover of “Cahoots and Other Favorites” wearing his signature powder blue suit, which he can be seen sporting during many of the band’s concerts. He captures both the style and essence of country heroes of the ‘40s and ‘50s for a modern audience.
“There is a movement of people trying to really bring this type of music around [again],” Grinder said. “And you kind of see it through all roots music. I think people really love the idea of trying to preserve old styles of rock ‘n’ roll and blues, and jazz and country as well.”
He said his original tunes involve a simplistic, straightforward writing style with lyrics that reflect “going out and spending money on women, or maybe getting your heart broken.”
Recording with a Grammy, Emmy-nominated engineer
The Cory Grinder Band worked with David Mayfield of the David Mayfield Parade, Cave Twins, Cadillac Sky and collaborations with his sister, Jessica Lea Mayfield, and his parents, David and Valerie Mayfield, to record and produce the album.
Mayfield’s studio, Sweetside Recording Company in Canton, contains vintage equipment and old RCA microphones not unlike those that would be used to record classic country albums in the heyday of honky-tonk.
“Working with David has been great,” Grinder said. “He totally understands what we were going for… everything just felt pretty authentic.”
Mayfield’s vocals, baritone guitar and high-strung guitar playing are also featured on the album. He will perform with Cave Twins as the opener for The Cory Grinder Band’s album release show Aug. 17 at the Venice Café in Kent.
The free show begins at 8 p.m. Cleveland musicians Austin Stambaugh and Brian Roberts will join The Cory Grinder band on electric guitar and drums during the performance.