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Cory Grinder and The Playboy Scouts release new album ‘Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme’

The Plain Dealer  Cleveland logo The Plain Dealer Cleveland 6/11/2021 Anne Nickoloff, cleveland.com

AKRON, Ohio — Local honky-tonk band Cory Grinder and The Playboy Scouts are hitting the road for their biggest tour yet, taking their signature blue school bus on the way.

The Akron-based band released its second album, “Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme,” on Friday, June 11. The group will celebrate with a release show at the Beachland Ballroom on the same day at 7 p.m., before hitting the road for a U.S. tour that runs until July 4.

All the fun comes after what’s been a tough year for Grinder and his band, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year was nothing short of very depressing,” he said. “I was really proud of myself last year, I booked a pretty extensive tour all through the west, out to Los Angeles, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, all of that. Then that, and another tour, both getting canceled about the same time. It felt hard to lose all that momentum. We’re glad we’re finally getting to have our redemption.”

That redemption arrives in the form of “Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme,” a hard-driving, upbeat old-school country project. Highlights of the project include the dreamy ballad “Light Headed,” the heavy, downtrodden “Out of Sight, Out of Mind” and the boisterous “Drinkin’ Lots of Wine.”

You’ll hear Grinder’s vocal skills and fiddle-playing mastery on the album, along with pedal steel player Tebbs Karney’s playful performances. The two musicians, along with drummer Bee Roberts, are core touring members of the band, which formed a few years ago after a few previous hillbilly group iterations fizzled out.

“Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme” also features performances from guitarist Anthony Papaleo and bassist David Mayfield. The latter produced the project at his studio, Sweetside Recording Company in Canton.

“Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme” builds off of previous releases from Cory Grinder and The Playboy Scouts, including a series of 2020 singles (culminating in a five-song EP) and 2018 debut album “Cahoots and Other Favorites.”

Grinder’s journey in country music goes back to his time growing up in Stow, Ohio. Grinder performed violin in orchestra and band before developing a taste for country music in high school.

“Discovering country and bluegrass, where there was this fiddle being used prominently, it was really exciting to me, as an option to play a new type of music that I really enjoyed,” Grinder said. “The further back I went with it, finding all these artists, it was nothing like the ‘this song’s for my truck’ sort of thing. They were just simple, great stories and the musicianship behind most of them sounded like country-jazz players, really gifted musicians.”

From there, Grinder teamed up with a few local musicians to busk at flea markets and other events, learning classic country songs to perform. That’s when he connected with Karney.

“We started a band and eventually things picked up speed once we were able to find some other fellow musicians to really start making it happen,” Grinder said.

Fast-forward to 2021. Grinder and the band have made plenty of things happen. Now, they’re making sure to keep their work as locally focused as possible. With help from a grant and mentorship provided by local nonprofit Cleveland Rocks: Past, Present and Future, Grinder has developed a network to help plan his tour and support the album release.

The partnership also led to a connection with Blue Arrow Records. The Waterloo business is releasing “Honky Tonkin’ Beauty Supreme” on its label, which is known for its work with singer-songwriter Jonathan Richman, the front man of The Modern Lovers. The signing with Cory Grinder and The Playboy Scouts marks the first Northeast Ohio artist to join the record shop and label.

For Grinder, it’s important to work with the local scene.

“We’ve always thought it was exciting to use the people in this area, people we’ve been playing with and made connections with. It always feels like there’s more of a grit to it. It feels real,” Grinder said. “We have such a great musical identity here that people like to pretend doesn’t exist sometimes. I would love to always see it growing.”

You can follow the band at its website, theplayboyscouts.com.

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