My first introduction to the vibrant roots and blues trio that is Grizzly & The Grasshoppers was at a gig at The Railway in Winchester. I had gone up from uni with two course friends to see Ian Easton, better known as The Widowmaker, play a very intimate and poignant gig. Walking into the venue, after walking through a slightly ‘Saw’ looking corridor at the side of the pub, and hearing Grizzly & The Grasshoppers half way through a performance of their song “Simple Sounds” for the first time: there are gigs and bands that change your life, and for me this band was definitely one of them, in both aspects.
The usual sign of boredom at a gig is the omnipresent sound of bottles being picked up and glugged, with the reflection off bottles acting as their own miniature light show. There was none of this during Grizzly & The Grasshoppers’ set. I myself completely forgot about my drink, the Gaymers providing a displeasing warm drink after the set. Rhys Morgan on vocals, guitar and lap-slide guitar, Jamie Bowden at first playing some beautifully theatrical keyboard, then switching to guitar, and finally the djembe, and Peter Elton on drums. Never have three musicians looked so happy to be playing and telling their stories. To see this band live was the happiest coincidence I have ever witnessed; you could have dropped a breath in the seated audience, and it would be heard by all. Morgan’s vocals were full of the roots charm, giving a complete and honest folk sound. Bowden, on the djembe during performances of their songs “Roots” and “Breakdown” was completely glowing as a person completely living in that moment, filled with pride and enthusiasm to be sharing their stories. I have been to many gigs when unknown bands cause a minor epiphany, most recently Engine-Earz Experiment at and Enter Shikari but Grizzly & The Grasshoppers have so much soul in them as a unit, seemingly all bouncing off of each other’s ever-growing happiness; they are a feel-good band in every sense of word.
After having such a great live experience of Grizzly & The Grasshoppers, I was slightly nervous after buying their EP for only £5; I had thought the feelings I had had at the gig could never translate with the recorded versions. I was so gladly mistaken; their self-titled EP flows with the same vibrance and that Roots caramel sound that had echoed around the dark, otherwise silent venue at The Railway. The first three tracks have an upbeat groove at their cores, and even listening to them now I can’t help but dance in my chair. ‘Breakdown’ is a flight in a whirlwind of sound, the creshendo ending making you feel completely immersed in their stories and experiences. Bowden’s expressive djembe playing. Each song on this EP gives you that feeling of adrenalin of getting a big weight taken off your shoulders, and that still hasn’t stopped for me, even after ending up having it on repeat for hours.
Rhys, Pete and Jamie are in their element live, and their recorded material has the same great effect. There is no reason Grizzly & The Grasshoppers could not get very far doing what they are doing, and I really hope I am able to witness it, and you would be missing out if you were not there.
Grizzly & The Grasshoppers Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/grizzlyandthegrasshoppers
The Railway venue Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheRailwayWinchester?group_id=0