Praise the Lord, and Pass the Grits, by Lynette Hanson | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Praise the Lord, and Pass the Grits, by Lynette Hanson

Feb. 26, 2004—Harmony can mean many things, not just musical ones, either. For instance, the harmony between grits—that wonderful Southern breakfast side dish—and other scrumptious morsels like hot buttered biscuits, fluffy scrambled eggs, and maybe some thick, barely browned potatoes can make one want to burst into song, harmonious or otherwise, at the perfect combination of tastes and textures.

Much the same can be said for the combination of instrumental talents and singing voices of the five that make up the gospel and Southern-style bluegrass group, Harmony & Grits. John Traweek (banjo, guitar, and mandolin) and Sharon Fiveash (guitar) are two original members since the group began about five years ago. Andy McCain (dobro) has been with them about three years while Scott Pinter (upright bass) has one and a half years' experience, and Bryan Hayes (guitar, mandolin) could be called the baby of the group, at six months. Speaking of age, Harmony & Grits, according to Traweek, think of themselves as "extremely young baby boomers"—their way of not revealing anyone's actual age.

I first heard their tight, melodic, soaring harmonies Jan. 17 at the Pearl Community Center. The brand-new Mississippi Opry was a rousing success and featured the Castle Family, Caribeth Albert—an 8-year-old singing treat—and the Pearl Quartet in addition to Harmony & Grits. Numbering upward of 250 and ranging in age from the single digits to their 70s or more, the audience and performers had such a great time that several more dates have been set for the Mississippi Opry—March 13 and April 10 at the Pearl Community Center.

After focusing in 2003 on producing the first Annual Rankin County FunFest, Harmony & Grits has now trained its sights on continuing the Opry as a monthly celebration of family-oriented music. Traweek says that they want "to have folks mark the date down on their calendars. This means we have to have great shows and know what people want to hear." Another long-term goal of the group that goes hand-in-hand with the Mississippi Opry is their desire to promote other bands and promoters in the Jackson metro area. "We feel we can do that; everyone wins," Traweek explains.

The March 13 Mississippi Opry will feature The Born Again Quartet from Terry, Harmony & Grits from Clinton, and The MaCoBes from Madison. Bands will be announced later for the April 10 Opry. The show starts at 6:30 p. m. Admission is $5 with children 12 and under free, and food will be available. For other appearances by Harmony & Grits, see www.msoprygospelbluegrass.com, or call Traweek at 924-1175.

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