Grits performs on average 100 dates each year having opened for the likes of Little River Band, Joe Nichols, 1964 The Tribute, Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels, The Beat Daddys and performed countless headliner gigs of their own across the South. Whether it's a blues pub, hotel lobby or a corporate ballroom, Grits is the perfect musical accompaniment to an evening of great entertainment.
Grits formed in 2006 when drummer Mark Havely, a former Southern California corporate executive and is longtime friend Noe Cruz, a bass playing Apache Native from the Southwest, abandoned the rat race of the Golden State for a simple, rural life in East Tennessee. Eventually combining with Rick Sharp, guitarist and Cherokee native of Oklahoma along with the talents of Rob Higginbotham, another blues guitarist transplant from New York, Grits evolved into the composite of professionals that cover a broad swath of styles from blues to funk to old school rhythm and blues. Being from the motherland of tradition, they have even been known to mix some country into a set list that satisfies every taste. Well known Knoxville bass player Mike Reynolds joined GRITS in 2014 after Noe decided to take a break after 40 years of the grueling schedule demands.
In addition to Abby Helton on vocals and Jimi Sharp on vocals, sax and guitar joined the band in 2016. GRITS now has many 80s, dance, pop, rock and other new material added in 2016 to compliment the large existing repertoire. Depending on the venue and budget, GRITS can work as a 4,5,6 piece band and will also bring in other pro musicians such on keyboard, steel, fiddle, etc. whenever a gig calls for a specific styles of music.
Refinement is essential to any bands survival and Grits ramped up to a high level with the recent completion of "TN Weather", a recorded collection of standards along with a few original compositions. As diverse as the weather patterns that move through East Tennessee, this 14 song recording represents a wide variety of styles and flavors - some of the best of their repertoire. Grits collaborated with Chris Marion, keyboardist for Little River Band who engineered and also contributed keys and vocals to the project. With over 150 years of combined professional experience, Grits always delivers just the right blend of musical entertainment for the event. Everything does indeed go better with a side of Grits.
A few comments:
Tom Bullard, President Creative Event Services Group, (Tom has produced thousands of national top artists events) and has featured Grits on multiple musical, municipal and corporate events says this:
"Grits is a great band... talented musicians performing their own material along with a variety of covers. They are a perfect band for a wide range of events. I've used them multiple times and have never been disappointed."
Chris Marion of Little River Band says this concerning Grits and TN Weather:
"Mark has been one of my best friends and an occasional band mate for 35 years. But, I truly got excited about Grits when I had an opportunity to sit in with the guys on an actual gig and became convinced that we needed to record their music. There is a phenomenal chemistry and musicianship in the band and their interaction with the crowd and relationship with a growing fan base explains why they have become regulars in demand around the East Tennessee music scene. With the recording, "TN Weather", they are ready to step up to a regional and even national audience with their distinct blend of blues and funk infused rock. I am proud of our collaboration and look forward to any opportunity I have to sit in with the guys in the future."
Alan Palmieri Jefferson County Tennessee Mayor
Each time I have had the opportunity to hear GRITS perform, it lifts my spirits. Always a great performance.
Michael Filip, Director-Music on the Town Series in Dandridge, TN says this:
"GRITS From Dumplin Valley has performed for Music on the Town a few times over the years and has consistently drawn some of our largest audiences. It is not uncommon for this band to get a standing ovation and the venue is always packed until the last song is played. GRITS has great stage presence and a contagious energy, clearly reflecting their love for performing live I have been very impressed with their original music and the way they put their own spin on cover tunes. Great variety of material with really cool arrangements".
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