The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Brianna Wray
The Times 

Grandma and the Boys: Old Time Gospel


December 20, 2018

WALLA WALLA—Bluegrass group Grandma and the Boys has released a new album with classic gospel favorites. The band is led by Grandma Jo Shay, who plays mandolin and 12-string guitar. Grandma is accompanied by Joe McCutcheon, who plays lead guitar and her son, Shawn Wray, on bass guitar.

Grandma and the Boys have been making music together for eight years. They play regular gigs at assisted living facilities and attend the annual Blue Mountain fiddlers’ jam. Shay is also a familiar face at the Mythical Movable Bluegrass Jam hosted by Kate Hockersmith.

“We love to play,” says Shay, “but probably one of the main reasons we play old time gospel is because we don’t want it to fade away. Joe, Shawn and I all go to church and we notice that most of the time they play the newer choruses and you very seldom hear the old-time gospels.”

Classic songs are also a benefit to the memory care community. “Since we play mostly for retirement homes and assisted living facilities where the people who live there are older, and they love to hear the old-time gospel,” Shay says. “These are the songs that they know the words for, that they tap their feet to, that brings a smile. They may have forgotten a lot, but it seems like this triggers good memories.”

Shay learned to play mandolin and guitar at the age of eleven. The first song she learned was “You Are My Sunshine.” At nearly ninety, she’s yet to slow down.

Grandma and the Boys will appear Friday at the Christmas Bluegrass Jam at 10-Ton Coffee in Waitsburg at 6:30 p.m.


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