Grits & Soul
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Grits & Soul

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010

Asheville, North Carolina, United States
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Country Americana

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"Grits & Soul, Flood Waters"

Up from Mississippi, now working out of Asheville, N.C., Grits & Soul is the duo of Anne Kline and John Looney. Though she plays guitar, Kline here appears only as a singer, although to say “only” in any context about her singing is a mistake. She can sing, no doubt about it. Growling, slurring, soaring, swooping, note-bending, word-bending, and a strong vibrato, they’re all part of her power-packed technique. Looney, on the other hand, sings a lead or two, but is primarily an instrumentalist, playing mandolin and guitar. “Blue Friday” and the instrumental “Carolina Fox Chase” give him a chance to stretch out a bit and show off his chops. Filling out the band are a group of solid pickers, the most recognizable being fiddler Nicky Sanders and banjoist Kyle Tuttle.

This 11-song (all originals) CD is their debut and a very good one at that. Bluegrass tunes such as “Lights On The Mountain,” which has a decidedly ’70s-style about it, and “Blue Friday,” with it’s wailing, energetic tale of getting in and out of a questionable romance, stand beside fine honky-tonk tunes such as “Listen Here, Darlin’” and “Just Say The Word” and the heavily blues and gospel-influenced sound of the title tune and the vocals-only trio of “Carry Me Away.”

At the outset is “Marretta Jeane,” a tune who’s percolating, slightly old-time rhythm and Carter Family-tinged lilt mask a sordid tale of murder and love. Sordid or not, it’s hard not to be drawn in by the excellent tune, the tale, and the performance. So too is the slow, 3/4 country saga of an illicit romance and its resulting “Guilty Conscience.” Again, the tune, the tale, and the performance are intriguing and enveloping. But then, you could say the same thing about much of this debut recording. (Grits & Soul, 64 Elkmont Dr., Asheville, NC 28804, www.gritsandsoul.com.)BW - Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine


"Prescription Bluegrass CD Review - GRITS & SOUL Flood Waters!"

I find myself drawn to new music that expands the borders of traditional music, that edginess is what I search for. That first generation of bluegrass and country music innovators is what I was raised on; and, I can’t remember a time when my parents weren’t listening to the latest hits when I was a kid. But, pushing those boundaries and adding different nuances and personalities to the traditional mix excites me!

Sometimes the experimentation is a total failure, but, when it works, and some new inflection is added to that “old” mix, my ears tell my heart to listen up and pay attention. That’s the case with the release of FLOOD WATERS, by the duo/band “Grits & Soul.“

Anna Kline and John Looney have written eleven songs that take me right back to the music of my formative years. They have a real grip and feel for that old sound, and, they’ve got the talent and intestinal fortitude to do it their own way, today!

Remember those mini-jukeboxes that so many restaurants had attached to the table back in the '50’s and into the '60’s? (For my younger readers who were born long after they were laid to rest, you could flip through the pages listing the songs, deposit your coins, push the appropriate buttons and play your favorite tunes while you ate breakfast!) I seem to remember it costing 25 cents for three plays. My brother and I each got to pick one, and then Mom and Dad would get a pick. I remember my Dad always had a pocket full of quarters and meals took a long time to consume! There is a definite connect from way back then to the music I’m hearing from “Grits & Soul” today. Call it an echo from the past invading my here and now.

When I first heard about Anna Kline and John Looney, AKA “Grits & Soul,“ I went to YouTube and found a lot of videos of just the two of them performing, and several more videos of the CD release party with a full band backing them. I have to say that I much prefer the intimacy of the duo … just Anna on guitar and John on mandolin.

For some reason, there is a warmth and personality that they share together that I find refreshing and definitive. All they need is the two of them to make great music! The strength of their original songs, and the unique sounds of their voices, separate and together, make them special in my mind. Yes, all the backing instruments make for a full, enjoyable, more commercial and entertaining CD, but … the real backbone of this recording is Anna and John.

Prepare yourself ahead of time for Anna’s voice. Think of the rawness of Bessie Smith, the strut of Janis Joplin and the vibrato of Joan Baez, and you’ll have an approximation of her power. When Anna sings higher in her register, that vibrato is even more pronounced, and as a Joan Baez fan, it knocks me out! There is an emotive beauty to what Anna does with her voice, and the listener will hear different sides of her on each and every song. She has some vocal chops that are unlike any other female singer I’ve heard! John has a more normal, but still strong and individualized, timbre to his voice that off sets Anna’s voice in a blend that you won’t hear anywhere else but in their singing.

The beauty of their vocal blend is most pronounced on my favorite song, “Hundred Year Farm.” They sing the entire song together in harmony, and the lyrics and melody are perfect for their voices to mesh very tenderly. The song was written about and dedicated to family members of Anna’s, and it harkens back to so many of those Depression Era tunes. Simple, honest and lovely in it’s delivery. I keep pushing REPLAY when this CD is in my truck.

Seven of the songs were recorded at the Compass Records upstairs studio in Nashville, and engineered by Jim Cooley. The remaining four were engineered by Rudi Ekstein at Foxfire Studio in Ashville, NC. Rudi and Grits & Soul produced and mixed it, and it was mastered by Kent Bruce.

The overall production is right on the money and I should take the time to congratulate Rudi Ekstein on a job well done. His studio input is all over this CD, and I also feel he did a good job of nailing down that Grits & Soul aura. Finding just the right producer to help an artist develop their own sound and then to get that sound captured onto a CD isn’t always an easy task, but I think this is a successful representation.

There are two songs in particular that stand out as radio friendly and single material: the uptempo “Blue Friday,” with John singing lead vocals, and “Lights On The Mountain,” where Anna carries the lead vocal. Both have a flashy banjo kick off by Kyle Tuttle that grabs you right away. John plays a great guitar solo on the former and Jay Starling lays down a sweet dobro solo on the latter. Lyrically strong, with very memorable melodies and powerful harmonies, they are both bluegrass winners.

One of the two fiddlers they use is Lyndsay Pruett, and on two bluesy numbers, “Flood Waters,” and the ¾ time waltz, “Just Say The Word,” she adds a very distinct gypsy jazz flavor to the tunes. I don’t know if that’s just the way she plays fiddle, or it was a thought out, “lets try this sound” effort, but, it works and I like it! Both are strong arrangements that have Adam Chaffee driving the songs along nicely on upright bass. I love how the bass is recorded on this entire CD, whether it be Adam, or their other bass player, Rob Parks, the bass is always up front, pushy (in a good way!) and alive sounding in the mix. Kudos to two very fine bass players!

There is only one instrumental on the CD, “Carolina Fox Chase,” and it shows off the best the four pickers playing on it have to offer. John Looney plays both super hot mandolin solos and rhythm guitar, Rob Parks is on upright bass, Nicky Sanders is on fiddle and Mr. Drew Matulich plays some extra fine lead acoustic guitar. I also especially like the interplay between John’s mandolin and Nicky’s fiddle. Is it harmony? Is it lick for lick? Whatever … they sure do push each to be as good as possible. GOOOOD TUNE!!! And the time, tempo and groove never falter! EVER!

Two of the numbers have a definite country feel to them. “Listen Here, Darlin’,” which features the harmony vocals of Robert Greer instead of John, and “Guilty Conscience.” “Listen Here” has that old-timey bar room, minor key drama to it, and features dobro player Jackson Dulaney sliding and crying against some very solid walking bass lines from Rob Parks. Both gentlemen play up the emotion at just the right times!

“Guilty Conscience” has some of the nicest chord changes on the recording, and I love that the band is so tight that they can play the verses with a straight country feel and switch to a ¾ time waltz on the chorus! Foolin’ around with the time signature is NOT for the faint of heart, but, these guys do it with ease. Nice…

The most traditional sounding song they have recorded is the very first one you’ll hear, “Marretta Jeane.” It’s obvious from the get-go that they have learned the lessons the founding fathers of bluegrass were trying to teach them. Come to think of it, this one would make a good single to be released for radio airplay, too.

“Shame On Me,” is another personal favorite, and Anna just plain KILLS this minor key number! I would love to hear her do more tunes like this one. John plays some nice mandolin against Jay Starling’s sweet dobro licks, and the result is another gem in hiding. I had to go back several times to make sure how nice the song was. It was a bit overshadowed by some of the more over powering tunes, but, listen closely and you’ll hear how tasty it is.

The very last song has Anna singing an a cappella song with Amanda Anne Platt and Annie Myers. What a cool way to end the CD!!! Very dynamic vocals to say the least. Anna dedicated the song to her Grandmothers, and it was inspired by the novel The River Witch, by Kimberly Brock. This trio needs to sing together as much as possible. This is three part harmony at it’s best! I also feel John and Anna should dig this deep into different types of subject matter and come up with more songs this well crafted. Now I’m going to have to find out more about the novel it was based on!

Anna and John have written eleven really good songs, worked extremely hard to get them recorded just right, used some extra fine pickers on their sessions and succeeded at presenting themselves very well to the record buying public. They have also given bluegrass radio some very good songs to choose from for airplay. Do I think this CD should be in your collection? YEP … give these fine musicians a chance to impress you like they have me. - Prescription Bluegrass


"Staying Honest with Grits & Soul"

by Genevieve Legacy

It'll be time to hitch up your baggy jeans and get ready for some foot stomping when Grits & Soul returns to Jackson. The bluegrass-Americana duo's holiday week appearance at Hal & Mal's promises to be a lively evening of fiery-sweet, and soaring vocals, whiplash-quick, pick and strum mandolin and the ever-present signature of acoustic music, the steel-string guitar.

Anna Kline and John Looney first met in Jackson in 2011 through mutual friends. At the time, Kline was working on cultural heritage projects for Mississippi Tourism, and Looney was doing instrument repair at Morrison Brother's Music. The two were well matched in more than a few ways.

Kline, 36, a self-taught guitarist and songwriter, grew up in a family of singers and artists. She learned to sing four-part harmony at church in her hometown of Hernando, Miss. "I studied the music business at the University of Memphis and took a semester of voice, but other than that, I've had no formal training," Kline says.

Looney, 30, grew up in Kentucky and relocated to Jackson in 2009. His early guitar influences include Eric Clapton and the Allman Brothers. Between playing in bands and working on instruments, he brought a fair amount of experience to the table. "As a guitarist, I played blues and straight country music, even R&B. I switched from guitar to mandolin about seven years ago," he says.

Not long after meeting, Kline and Looney got together with guitarist Scott Anderson and stand-up bass player Travis Pinkston, to form Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band. Their original song, "Flood Waters," written in response to the flooding of the Mississippi in May of that year, garnered media attention.

"We were a band for a little less than a year," Kline says. "Then our guitarist decided to go back to school, and Travis moved to New York City."

After the band dismantled, Kline and Looney decided to hit the road themselves. The pared-down, re-named duo headed for the regional music center of Asheville, N.C.

The relocation has proven successful. Since their arrival last year, Kline and Looney have been working hard; writing new songs, playing their music and meeting fellow musicians. Their efforts have paid off in a number of ways. They've connected with some very talented musicians and have recorded their first album.

"We've met some of the best musicians I've played with." Looney says about the young bluegrass and acoustic musicians he and Kline call the "Berklee kids," musicians who studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.

Several of the Berklee kids joined Kline and Looney for the recording of their album. The album is titled "Flood Waters," after the 2011 single and was recorded at Compass Records in Nashville. Accompanying Kline and Looney on the album are Jay Starling on dobro, Kyle Tuttle on banjo, Lyndsay Pruett on fiddle and Adam Chaffins on upright bass. Scheduled for an early 2013 release, "Flood Waters" will reflect a mix of influences--bluegrass, Americana, Memphis soul, and a little rock 'n' roll to boot.

Visit gritsandsoul.com, and hear them at Hal and Mal's, (200 S. Commerce St., 601-948-0888) on Dec. 28 from 7-10 p.m. - Jackson Free Press


"Down Home Recipe"

Blend tangy, honey-infused mandolin with a simmering string bass, and then add a double-layer of hot, finger-licking guitars. Jackson-based Anna Kline and the Grits and Soul Band satisfy a hunger for some good old-fashioned down-home music. Every tempting offering from Grits and Soul is seasoned with authentic southern spice and smothered in warm velvety vocals. - Jackson Free Press


"Mississippi Arts Hour"

July 31, 2011 - Mary Margaret visits with Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band, a new roots/acoustic group from Jackson. They talk about their musical backgrounds and perform a few of their songs live in the studio. - Mississippi Arts Commission


"Flood Waters"

For a few weeks now I’ve been working with Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band on a design for their forthcoming record. Anna and the guys play what I call old timey country music—mandolin, hand clapping, real macaroni & cheese porch music. I sat around on the porch at Sneaky Beans recently and listened to them roll away and you just sit there and smile and sweat. It just feels real.

Anna really likes the intricate hand-lettering and feel of early 20th century sheet music and hymnals, so I tried to capture that feel for a design for the “Flood Waters” single. We sat around her house the other day and this is what we came up with.

This is just a sneak peek from the forthcoming record—Anna + the band will reveal it when it’s final. You can like the Grits & Soul Band on Facebook, or check out their Reverb Nation profile. Anna also tweets at @gritsandsoul. - Gorjus, Pretty Fakes


"This Week's Various"

We had the tornadoes, and now the flood. And my beautiful friend Anna Kline wrote a song, Flood Waters, she performed with her band (Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band) just very recently -- and it was featured on WLBT in Jackson this morning and again during their 5:30p newscast -- it will also play on NBC affiliates across the South and the nation. *So* proud of her!

- Ginger Brook, Deep Fried Kudzu


"Grits & Soul"

On May 20, our good friend Anna Kline in the Mississippi Film office sent out an email about her new song, “Flood Waters.” Anna writes the Grits & Soul blog and is the founder and lead singer of a band by the same name. She says the song’s lyrics came to her at work one day, so she immediately recorded a rough version of the song into her phone and brought it to band practice in her living room the next day. Her band recorded the song and within a matter of hours, it made its way to Jackson’s local news station. Less than a week later, “Flood Waters” was on the air. (Scroll down to listen.)

With a chorus that goes: ”Ebb and flow, them flood waters creep up slow. The tide it turns, but this got nowhere to go,” it’s obvious Kline was inspired by the uncertainty of rising flood waters from the Mississippi River recently. Plenty of other Southerners shared her concern, and the song resonated. It’s since been played on the air in Memphis, Baton Rouge and caught the interest of CNN.

Kline describes the song as having a “bluesy twinge” and says the Grits & Soul band is roots-based, with touches of bluegrass, folk, soul and Celtic sounds. She’s not sure what the future holds for Grits & Soul, but the band is touring this summer and doesn’t plan to rest on “Flood Waters.”

“We’re going to keep writing, because we know we have a good thing,” she says. “If you want us to come to your town, let us know!”

Grits & Soul played Hal & Mal’s in Jackson last night and can be seen at High Street Farmer’s Market tomorrow, Mint Restaurant in Ridgeland June 20, Finian’s Irish Pub in Jackson June 29 and the Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights event in Jackson August 13. Find out more about the band on MySpace, Facebook and Reverb Nation. - Deep South Magazine


"Person of the Day: Anna Kline"

Within the past two weeks, Anna Kline saw the devastation of the Mississippi River flooding, wrote a song about it and played it during practice with her band. In the next few days, Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band sang the song on WLBT-TV, then recorded and produced the song, "Flood Waters."

A native of Hernando, Kline grew up singing with her family members and learning to harmonize as she got older. She attended the Southern Baptist Educational Center, where she graduated in 1994. During those obligatory high school years, she began to sing more on her own for different civic groups, and eventually developed a passion for Celtic music. This deep interest for folk music is what fueled her drive to pursue more musical endeavors.

After high school, she enrolled at the University of Memphis where she studied music business and mass media. Defined by her love for music, the 35-year-old decided to revert to the arts, particularly music, as her focus.

She moved to Jackson in September 2004 and first lived in Belhaven. She eventually moved to Fondren, where she found herself surrounded by people who shared her same interests in art and culture.

"I have really enjoyed getting to know the people," Kline says. "Whether they are a long-time resident or a transplant, I really enjoy learning how people got here and why they stayed and getting to know the community."

This Jackson resident's love for culture and the arts defines her career as well.. Kline works as a special projects officer for the Mississippi Development Authority's Bureau of Film and Cultural Heritage. A filmmaker as well, Kline worked as the coordinator for the Crossroads Film Festival in 2008 where she showed a series of short films. She also dabbles in freelance writing.

Continuing her musical semi-profession, Kline joined forces with a few musically talented individuals in September, and they eventually formed the band Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band. Their sound is primarily roots-based with folk, bluegrass and indie-rock influences. The new song "Flood Waters" has that close-to-home sound.

For information on Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band, visit http://www.gritsandsoul.com or email Kline at Anna@gritsandsoul.com. Find out where the band is playing next at http://www.myspace.com/gritsandsoul. - Jackson Free Press


"Hernando native sings flood anthem"

JB Clark
News Reporter

Hernando's own Anna Kline and her band, Grits and Soul, have received national media attention the last week for a heartfelt song she wrote about the Mississippi River flood and the loss it's brought to the Mid-South.

The song, Floodwaters, is written from the perspective of someone who has lost something, whether it is farmland, a house or a loved one.

"I was watching everything on TV and the water was getting higher and higher," Kline said. "I saw an interview with a man who lost hundreds and hundreds of acres of land - seeing all that, I just sat down and started writing."

Kline currently resides in Jackson but since writing the song, she said she has visited and seen the high water first hand.

"It seems like everyone knows someone who has lost something in the flood," Kline said. "It was such widespread devastation and there was nothing we could do, it was just a wait and see situation and that's scary - the fear of the unknown."

The song was picked up by a Memphis NBC affiliate and has since aired on NBC affiliate stations across the country.

The song is classically folk with gospel undertones - something that wouldn't at all sound out of place along the Mississippi River with mandolin, acoustic guitars and upright bass.

Kline said it was easy for her to relate to the areas that have been hit hardest by the flooding because she grew up in Hernando and has traveled to the devastated communities for her job with the Mississippi Department of Tourism.

"One picture that really brought it home to me was picture of the Mississippi Queen riverboat sitting up level in the water with Riverside Drive," Kline said. "That was absolutely wild to me. That really weighs on peoples hearts and minds. Everyone was just waiting to see if they would have to evacuate."

Kline's band started playing in full force in February and the members are bassist Travis Pinkston, mandolin player John Looney, guitarist Scott Anderson and guitarist and lead sing Anna Kline.

The song can be listened to by clicking on the media player below.

Contact JB Clark at 662-429-6397 ext. 236 or email at JClark@DeSotoTimesTribune.com - DeSoto Times-Tribune


"Musicians turn flood tragedy into musical inspiration"

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) -
When Anna Kline began to see the disaster from the mighty Mississippi, she wanted to help those affected through the best way she knows how. So, she wrote down some lyrics, turning devastation into inspiration.

With the help of her band, in the middle of her living room, the song "Flood Waters" struck a cord.

"It was hard to ignore the footage that we were seeing every single day that we were watching the news," said Kline.

"It was kind of a natural thing that kind of poured out of us, like a river," said band member Travis Pinkston.

They go by Anna Kline and the Grits & Soul Band, a group of Mississippi musicians hoping to turn a note of tragedy into a measure of hope for those in the path of flood waters and the communities swallowed up.

"I would hope that it would give them heart but also express something that they're not able to talk about or say," said Kline.

It took less than a week from the moment the lyrics hit the paper until it was done, a relatively short period of time these musicians hope will become timeless.

"It's a really good song and it's fun just being a part of it," said band member Scott Anderson.

"This is a song that documents a very specific crucial time in the Mississippi River's history," said Kline.

With the history of the river still being written, Kline isn't sure how well her song will be received, but to her and the band, it's written and played on a string of emotions.

"I think it was just a heartfelt sentiment for me and something that I hope people will enjoy and can relate to," said Kline. "I think that even though I'm not directly affected, I'm still a Mississippian and what affects our neighbors affects us."

Affected now with a musical backdrop to anyone looking for harmony in the murky water. - WLBT Channel 3


Discography

Flood Waters (2013)

Photos

Bio

**Please visit our website www.gritsandsoul.com for full listings of dates and appearances**

Grits & Soul is based in the hotbed of roots music -- Asheville, North Carolina -- and as their name suggests, their music represents some of the best parts of their Southern musical heritage.  Their “soulgrass” sound fuses mountain bluegrass and classic country with Mississippi soul and blues. 

At the heart of Grits & Soul are Southern songcrafters, Anna Kline and John Looney.

On the heels of their Merlefest-sponsored IBMA showcase appearance in 2013, Grits & Soul has attracted the attention of audiences in the Southeast, receiving coveted invitations to perform at large-scale festivals in 2014 including Merlefest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, and Albino Skunk Festival. They were also an official showcase artist at the Southeast Regional Folk Alliance.

They have shared the stage with some of the best pickers in the region and continue to make their mark on the regional festival scene, not defining themselves by genre but bending the rules of bluegrass and country to create their own distinctive sound. 

They are currently promoting their debut album, Flood Waters, hailed by Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine as “intriguing and enveloping.”  Flood Waters not only highlights Anna’s powerhouse voice & John’s skill as a talented picker, but also showcases them as gifted songwriters.  

Anna's powerhouse voice is "mezmerizing -- growling, slurring, soaring, swooping, note-bending...they are all a part of her power-packed technique," says Bluegrass Unlimited.  John is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist:  he sets the tone, wowing crowds with his interpretation of classic melodies, while his skills as a talented arranger shine through their original material.

Grits & Soul are a memorable musical team.  Their voices blend together seamlessly.  Their collaboration forges a connection between influences of hard-driving bluegrass, barroom honky tonk, Southern gospel, Celtic, and slow-burning blues.

This combination of musicianship and compelling songwriting creates a memorable, fun, and powerful concert experience.

Audiences can’t help but clap & sing along. You will, too.