The Kennedy Center

The Grandsons


Across two decades in the performing arts, The Grandsons have embraced the music of America as their inspiration, and the Nation’s capital as their home. This year, the city has returned the gesture. The Washington Area Music Association named The Grandsons Artist of the Year and dubbed their latest recording Live at the Barns: The Legendary Wolf Trap Recordings, Volume Two roots rock Album of the Year. As their energy and notoriety increases, the band’s geographic reach extends further than ever. Recent years have found them in France and Germany representing America in cultural exchanges with the historic cities of Reims and Aachen.

Previously, they spent a month in Taiwan after being chosen by the US government as ideal representatives of America’s celebrated musical style. The Grandsons most recently returned from a second trip to the US and British Virgin Islands where their popularity continues to grow. They marked their 20th anniversary with a sold-out concert at Wolf Trap in Virginia.

A fan aptly described The Grandsons' exuberant sound as “American music in a blender with the lid off.” This bunch finds inspiration in New Orleans street parades, high-haired rockabillies, low down blues shouters, uptown swing, downtown jazz and outskirts-of-town honky tonk country. On this foundation The Grandsons build their sometimes poignant, often hilarious songs about hitch hiking and heartbreak, mob bosses’ daughters, finding happiness on a tight budget, overly aggressive young ladies, civil engineering and supermarket tabloids. A Grandsons performance is always a lively exchange of humor, fun, musical riffs and moving feet between band members and audience. Vocalist-guitarist Alan MacEwen charms audiences with his sly wit and hummable melodies. Washington, DC blues veteran Matthew Sedgley locks in a solid groove on drums and percussion. The band's secret weapon, saxophonist Chris Watling puts out a sound so meaty and memorable that he is in demand all over as a guest artist and session player. Did we mention he plays accordion too? Multi-instrumentalism is a virtue on The Grandsons bandstand where a few extra horns or a set of claves may suddenly appear out of nowhere.

Howdy from The Grandsons, the group’s 1991 debut produced by Washington music icon Mark Noone was hailed by the Washington Post as “so free-spirited and so subversively anti-sophisticate that it’s practically new territory.” The Grandsons followed up with the release of Wammie winning CDs It’s Hip to Flip, Pan-American

Shindig, Live at the Barns, Volume One, and Party with the Rich, which have received accolades in both the local and national press. In addition to their sold-out shows at the Barns of Wolf Trap, the Grandsons have appeared at Austin’s South by Southwest Music Festival, the Fete Jeanne d’Arc in Reims, France, the Bethlehem, PA Musikfest, the Kennedy Center, and Florida’s Tropical Heatwave. The band made its US television debut on the PBS program Frontline. They’ve had the honor to work as back-up band for R&B legends Ruth Brown, Lester Chambers of the Chambers Brothers, and Howard Tate.

Watch Past Performances

Video 1/1/2015: The Grandsons

The D.C.-based group brings its eclectic whirlpool of New Orleans R&B, rockabilly, swing, and country two-steps.

Video 1/1/2014: The Grandsons

The D.C.-based group brings its eclectic whirlpool of New Orleans rhythm and blues, rockabilly, swing, and country two steps.

Video 1/1/2012: The Grandsons

The roots rock quartet performs its sometimes poignant, often hilarious songs with a mixture of sounds including New Orleans street music, blues, swing, jazz, and country.

The Grandsons