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Back in the saddle

Dappled Grays ride the bluegrass wave

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There's no doubt about it, bluegrass has re-emerged in popularity over the past several years. While many saw the O Brother, Where Art Thou? phenomenon as a flash in the pan, it helped re-establish roots, and the music has since flourished on a national and international level. The Atlanta-based Dappled Grays have found a ride on that train and are making the best of it.

"Bluegrass-influenced music has come back in popularity as an answer to the current state of popular music," says Dappled Grays mandolin player Michael Smith. "People want real music, and bluegrass is as real as it gets."

It takes a lot of work to make an impact in the entrenched genre, which means bands have to bring a little something extra to the table. "We strive to create an original sound within the genre, while sticking to certain aspects of the traditional music to keep it palatable to a real bluegrass lover, as well as those less familiar with this music," Smith says. "However, it was really the addition of Leah Calvert as vocalist a couple of years ago that has led us to where we are now, stylistically, because we started seeking material that would suit her amazing voice. Her voice lends itself to genres outside of bluegrass, so we have added a lot of swing, pop and country tendencies to our sound, as well as softer songs that really showcase her vocal talents."

The Grays are traditional enough to join forces with legendary fiddle player Bobby Hicks at their upcoming Eddie's Attic shows. "Hicks is possibly the most influential bluegrass fiddler of all time, playing with Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs and a host of other traditional bluegrass luminaries," Smith says. Hicks will be in good company, as the Grays' lineup also includes guitarist Casey Cook, who teaches guitar at Denison University in Ohio, bassist Keith Morrow, and Greg Ernest on banjo. The band's most recent release, Doing My Job, will be available at the shows and online.

The Dappled Grays perform at Eddie's Attic Sat., Dec. 15. $15. 7:30 and 9 p.m. 404-377-4976.

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