Photo by John Bachman

by Kim Pool

Originally published in the Mound City News, Thursday, May 2, 2024 issue

Grindstone Creek is a bad-to-the-bone melting pot of country, blues, and hard rock. Their heart shines through their music, a mix of humor and profanity that reflect the tales of outlaw country.

The band played at Unplugged in St. Joseph, MO on Saturday, April 20. Grindstone Creek features vocalist Kari Crow, bassist Jason Johnson, drummer Brian Smith, and guitarists Sir. Timothy Groce and Chris Reid.

Located at 2605 Frederick Avenue, Unplugged describes itself as a friendly neighborhood bar and music venue. 

Unplugged is a venue that has Irish heritage. The venue reopened last April and has different acts throughout the week: open mics for both comedy and music, karaoke, and live bands during the weekend, as well as being able to cater for private events and parties. The ownership is split three ways through Lynn and Philip Johnson and their son Jason. 

Guitarist Sir Timothy Groce described Unplugged as, “It’s always like coming home. It’s probably the one place we play where I feel the most relaxed.” 

In 2018, the band released its  debut album Lowdown, Dirty, and Mean. Earlier this month in April, the band re-released its second album Heartbreak Boulevard with a new remastering. 

The band’s setlist contained almost every song in its discography from both albums Lowdown, Dirty, and Mean and Heartbreak Boulevard and some covers. Grindstone Creek covered “Smokin’ In The Boys’ Room,” Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried,” Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues,” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” 

by Kim Pool

The sound of Grindstone Creek came barreling out of the gate with Kari Crow’s powerhouse vocals. Crow got into music through folk music, stating that she found her voice in that genre. Crow’s voice can be both slow and soulful like a bottle of Jack Daniels’ Honey Tennessee Whiskey, and also passionate and fierce like a bullet train. Both sides showed during the setlist on fierce songs like “Suck City/Joe Town” and the ballad “X’s and What Ifs.” 

Sir Timothy Groce and drummer Brian Smith are in another band called Monday’s Child. Their styles of blues-rock guitar and heavy-hitting drums add an element of power to Grindstone Creek’s sound.

There were some crowd favorites performed – “Baby Steps.” Johnson wrote this song during the pandemic, and it became a beacon of hope for both the band and the band’s fans, to encourage people to never give up even just by taking small steps towards improving a situation or looking on the bright side.

The band members describe themselves as having a lot of band humor, inside jokes, nerd chats about Star Wars and music, and knowing how to have a good time.

“Unplugged is definitely home for me,” Crow said. “It’s the first stage I ever sang on, and we’ve done some music videos there. Something magical happens when we play there; it’s like I can hear the sound of people’s happy hearts singing along. It will always be the most special place.”





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