When: Sat., Jan. 5, 7:30 p.m. 2013
North Carolina's Grass Cats have had quite a ride during the last 15 years. These five bluegrass aficionados have seen four of their eight records turn top ten on the bluegrass charts. They not only managed that feat without the help of a professional label but also pulled off many tours along the way, speaking to the well-oiled machine they've grown into over time.
The band's success has a lot to do with their energetic live shows of foot-stomping drives and tight vocal harmonies. Bluegrass classics get equal billing with winning originals and even the odd cover. Taking on anything from Johnny Cash to Duke Ellington, the band isn't shy about shaking things up. On their latest release, 2012's The Mountains, My Baby and Me, the Cats sing about poor mining conditions, heaven's promise and true love while covering Springsteen, Clapton and Dylan. The Cats' sense of adventure and parallel commitment to bluegrass roots make for an exhilaratingly accessible glimpse into the ever-moving target of "traditional" music. At 7:30 p.m., the quintet celebrates 15 years as a part of The ArtsCenter's 10th annual American Roots Series. Admission is $16–$20. —Ashley Melzer