One of my favorite shows of this year’s CMJ music festival – the annual audio buffet featuring a smorgasbord of bands, tight jeans and IPAs – was at Spike Hill in Williamsburg, featuring The Grayces from Nashville, TN, on tour supporting their second album, Westing.
I always love when touring bands come into town—they can actually play. Walking in just when their set began, I was immediately taken by the vocal prowess of Iz Stone. She had a voice like the big-ass blades coming out of the walls in that hallway in Indiana Jones and a look like Patti Smith: classic t-shirt and jeans, hair going down past her eyes. She was always right on the note, great range, and played her Telecaster in pure confidence. The scene is still so male dominated, but this was a chick guitar player that got your attention.
The rhythm section must have had a million years of conscious thought because those two were seriously tight. Chas Cantrell was on the drum kit, with snare chops as if he had drum core running through his veins. And then Patrick Ward playing without a pick like a pro—if Geddy Lee and John Paul Jones had a child, it would be him. “Mona Lisa” was the best of the set, delivering a dangerous cool to the crowd for a good three and a half minutes. Stone and Cantrell were the leather jacket and Ward’s bass line was the zipper that joined them together for a night of kicking some ass.