Imagine a mix between bluegrass and punk rock: that is the sound of duo Grace & Tony out of Lawrence County, Tenn.
The duo, comprised of Grace Shultz and Tony White, headlined a show Friday night at The Well in Bearden, Tenn. The show was preceded by local acts Troy Suggs & the Delinquency and An Atlas to Follow.
White encountered music early in life through his brother John Paul White, now a member of The Civil Wars. After hearing Shultz play years ago, White quickly developed a crush and married his future bandmate. Together, the couple blend genres to create "punkgrass," a hybrid between White's punk rock background and Shultz's southern gospel and bluegrass upbringing.
"It isn't forced," White said. "It's very organic and it stands out because it's a real fusion of what's new and old. We play whatever pops into our heads; from classic rock to southern gospel, we scratch every itch. It's dark, yet happy; silly, yet serious. Plus, it's a whole lot of fun to play."
The songs from the duo's album, "November," listens like a storybook, featuring characters who struggle with love, self-identify and loneliness. These characters face kidnappers, bombs, schizophrenia and their own minds.
Two of Grace & Tony's videos, "Let You Down," and "November," are played in regular rotation on The Country Network. They've also received airtime on CMT Edge and GAC.
Troy Suggs & the Delinquency, however, also held their own at The Well.
Playing country music driven by electric guitars, Troy Suggs burst onto the Knoxville music scene in October 2011 with his debut EP, "Don't." Although the songs for this album were selected to highlight Sugg's songwriting versatility, the EP leans heavily on his country roots.
Since the release of "Don't," Suggs has played several Knoxville venues including The Square Room and the Bijou Theatre.
Suggs said songwriters such as Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Springsteen are some of his biggest musical influences.
Troy & the Delinquency fused their country sound by covering the Boss's "Born to Run." The band also livened the crowd up by covering Hall and Oates' "Rich Girl."
His original songs tell stories, in stark contrast to more than just canned, repetitive lyrics coming from a number of mainstream country acts. Suggs hopes one of his songs will one day be picked up by a major mainstream artist.
Another local group, An Atlas to Follow, led by husband and wife Thomas and Amanda Smith, opened the show.
The indie-folk duo carries with them the sounds of Mumford & Sons, Nickel Creek and The Civil Wars, charged with mandolins, guitars and banjos.
Thomas Smith, lead vocalist, has a unique voice that is hard to compare with anyone else's. Its smoothness is calming and his lyrics are bittersweet and tinged with love. Amanda Smith's backgrounds and harmonies are strong. The band uses a cajón instead of drum kit, contributing to the band's organic sound.
The band played songs from their EP "Golden Sun" and some from their unreleased EP, "Silver Moon."
From quick musical breakdowns to passive instrumentals, the band keeps listeners engaged with a range of paces and tempos.
Their record "Golden Sun" secured a top spot in the iTunes Singer-Songwriter Best of List for 2012. The lead track, "Be Kind to Boston," was a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition.
These three acts made for a unique show, offering everything from country to "punkgrass."