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Runnin' down a dream

A chat with dancer, musician and budding philanthropist Grace Adele

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POSTED: June 26, 2012 3:25 p.m.
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Radio City's loss is Americana's gain.

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“When all my dreams come true,” goes one of Grace Adele’s best tunes, “there’ll be nothing to do ... but just to love you.” It starts off as a dreamy ballad, but soon kicks into a galloping amalgam of Western Swing, bluegrass and rooty–toot vaudeville–style music.

The mandolin takes the first solo, then the fiddle ... then the kazoo.

Somehow, it works. It’s utterly charming stuff.

Adele, a native of Ohio, currently lives in Nashville, where she is generating buzz for her warn, fuzzy and fun hybrid of Americana styles. The red–headed singer, songwriter, guitarist and kazoo player fronts The Grand Band, an all–acoustic outfit bringing vintage musical forms onto the same stage (and sometimes, the same song) with their more contemporaneous cousins.

Grace Adele and the Grand Band – the touring version is a trio, with guitar, mandolin and cello – debuts in our area with a Friday show at North Beach Grill on Tybee Island.

I was going to start by asking if you had a day job – and then I read online that you work at Uncle Classic Barbershop in Nashville. So that means ...

Grace Adele: Yeah, I’m a part–time barber. Many haircuts per day. It’s a modern twist on the classic barber shop – we do the straight–razor shaves and hot towels on the face. It’s a very cool place. And in Nashville, people are pretty flexible in that a lot of their employees are musicians ... my shop owner has been very accommodating. It’s been a nice dual life for me, being a barber and a musician.

You started out as a dancer – that’s something that never really goes away. Do you still think of yourself as a dancer?

Grace Adele: I take dance classes here and there still, just for fun. I’ve spent most of my life being really involved in the dance world, so I still sort of think of myself as a dancer. Definitely more of a singer and songwriter, at this point, but it’s something I just can’t shake.

You studied ballet from a young age, but I understand you always wanted to be a Rockette? Where did that ambition come from?

Grace Adele: I saw the Rockettes live, and then I started going to some of their workshops – from there I started going to New York and auditioning. I’d done a lot of ballet, but I’m very tall, so in the dance world the Rockettes just kind of made more sense to me. I’d grown up with a lot of theater, that background, and the Rockettes definitely had that vaudeville–type thing. I’ve always been into that, the old Hollywood movies and Tin Pan Alley. To me, the Rockettes just encompassed all that.

I was chasing that dream, and honestly, I just ran out of money. I started to shift my focus more, really enjoying writing and singing.

How did music become your top priority?

Grace Adele: I was singing background vocals in a band in Ohio, and I had a lot of time on my hands so I started picking up the guitar. Once I started learning the guitar, I really fell in love with that acoustic sound. Then I met my musical partner Keenan Wade, he plays mandolin in the group, and we had scads in common, Tin Pan Alley in common, but he also had bluegrass and a lot of acoustic music that I just immediately gravitated towards.

Is there a goal for you? Or are you like a lot of other musicians – just making it up as you go along?

Grace Adele: I think that my number one goal, really, is just to keep creating. To keep things fresh and new. I’m pretty fortunate at this point to be able to balance a job and pursuing a dream. I guess maybe the goal in the end would be for music to be able to help aid me in some type of worthy cause. It’s personal growth for me. I hope I’m bringing joy to people. I’d also like to feel, financially, that I could help some type of organization. Some type of charity work. I could still keep the day job, but make the work less about me and more about the world.

Grace Adele and the Grand Band

Where: North Beach Grill, 33 Meedin Ave., Tybee Island

When: At 7 p.m. Friday, June 29

Artist’s site: graceadelemusic.com

 

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