Following on the success of singles “Give It a Name” and “Angel Wings,” The Graysmiths are set for two 2016 tours through the American Southeast, Texas, and Oklahoma with a new line-up of band members.

The 2016 Graysmiths line-up features Gray on guitar and vocals backed by Katarina Pejak on keyboards and keys-bass, Slaven Ljujic on drums, and Rachel McCann on keys and vocals. Pejak is a Berklee College of Music graduate, well known in her native Serbia as a talented singer-songwriter and performer with two albums, Perfume & Luck and First Hand Stories, and a solid performance history in both Europe and America. Ljujic is a fresh Berklee graduate with outsized chops and performance experience in his native Montenegro and the U.S, including a history of collaborations with notable U.S. vocalists such as Vinx and Larry Watson. McCann fronts the vocal jazz combo Carnal Echo.

The Graysmiths and Carnal Echo are touring together in 2016 with dates lined up across the Southeast and beyond, debuting a fresh set of originals slated for release later this year.

Meet The Graysmiths

The Graysmiths is a Rock experiment, created by Joshua Gray in 2009 and constructed primarily around the moan and wail of Gray’s back beat driven slide guitar playing. The genesis of the group came as a necessity to Gray after working for 10 years as a sideman for other touring acts while also working as an engineer out of his small home studio in Mississippi. As a songwriter and collaborator, Gray realized the importance of branching out and trusting his own instincts fully: “I really wanted to get back to my roots and build something I could call my own.”

Working in the cracks of a varied and busy schedule, Gray completed the first Graysmiths solo album, These Bones, assisted by friends and family. A take on reconstructing Blues forms, These Bones is now available only at live events. After a single show, an unexpected opportunity took Gray to Europe for a year in 2011-12. The year in Europe was a great experience for Gray, who performed the album in several countries as a solo performer. “It was fantastic for me because I couldn’t lean on a band. I have to deliver these giant blues/rock sounds with just an acoustic guitar and my voice. This is when it all came together for me as a front man.”

After his return from Europe, Gray began work on his next album and started planning his next move. He had no trouble finding musicians that wanted to record with him but finding people to commit to a touring band proved far too difficult in his small hometown. Joshua realized that he needed to be a larger area with people and opportunities that better suited his interests. “People had been telling me for some time that I needed to move to Nashville but I never thought that I would fit in there because my interests were not based in country music. I knew I needed to go somewhere and some close friends told me I should really check Nashville out. I was very surprised to find out how much was going on outside of country music.”

In 2013 Joshua moved to Nashville and within weeks of arrival was touring with a newly formed Graysmiths lineup that included Bones Hillman, former bassist for Midnight Oil. Gray and Hillman became fast friends as a result of their work together. Hillman recognized something special in Gray and took him under his wing, working with Gray to manage and develop The Graysmiths and set the band on a trajectory to make an impact in the Rock world.

Hillman called on former Oils producer Warne Livesey for The Graysmiths’ first professional studio album and drew on his years of working relationships in Nashville to fill out the rest of the band for the sessions and live work. Steve Latanation of Agent Orange joined Gray and Hillman in the studio to provide drumming, while Josh Cross of Justin Moore’s band lent his hand at lead guitar. The first single, “Give It a Name,” is slated for release April 2014.

2014 promises to be an exciting year for The Graysmiths, as they hone their craft with touring and further releases.

What is a Graysmith?

I am asked often to explain what the name of the band means, or where it comes from.

The Graysmiths name comes from the two words that form the name.

The first word Gray is at first obvious because my last name is Gray. This is not the main reason I chose to use it, though. I chose Gray for its other meanings and usages. My favorite is its use as a color to represent ambiguity when describing an issue. We tend to say that an issue is in the “grey area” when discussing an idea that is laden with complexity. To me, this place is of incredible importance because it represents the space of mind that forces an individual to observe an issue or concept spatially. Often enough the ability and agility of mind to experience, perceive, and interact with an outside world three dimensionally lends itself to the greatest discoveries our species has on record. It is of fantastic importance that we instill value on the questioning mind for generations to come. What discoveries will take place without questions? The other reason for play on the word gray is the location in the brain where this type of thought takes place.

The second word, Smith, comes from the ever dying art form of craftsmanship. The art of smithing represents the greatest achievements of mind in physical tangible form. The mind making connections, imagining and innovating solutions to problems and questions. Our advantage over all other species on our planet relies solely on our ability to dream up, fashion, and use tools made from materials found and manipulated in our immediate surroundings. There are many types of smiths and the most easily recognized work with metals, although the words songsmith or tunesmith come to mind.

There was a critical point when mass production became the rule and these skills and trades slipped from our grasp. Fortunately there are still a small number of people on the planet that recognize and value these skills. They are all artisans of one variety or another. It boggles the mind to consider the number of people unable to grow and harvest their own food. One generation back almost every human on earth knew. So does that make growing lettuce an artisanal talent? Smithing food? Probably.

For us the construction of music is something that we prefer to do the old fashioned way. Paper and pencils, instruments, erasures, cerebellum…

Are you a Graysmith?