about Graminy

Graminy is an award-winning ensemble that creates a unique and engaging soundscape they call “class-grass”.  We fuse components of grassroots and classical traditions, creating performances that are energetic and inquisitive, with quick changes and generous improvisation.  Our instrumentation blends a classical string trio (violins, viola and cello) with elements of a bluegrass rhythm section (mandolin, guitar and banjo) to create something, “…both complex and immediate, elusive and apparent.”


Graminy presents original compositions that reflect themes of environment and place.   Our 2013 album, Germinations: A Bluegrass Symphony in D, won “Classical Album of the Year” and “Classical Song of the Year” at the 2014 MAMAs (Madison Area Music Association). And then in 2016, our 2015 album Dance of the Plants won us a second “Classical Album of the Year” MAMA award and a second “Classical Song of the Year” MAMA award.


Graminy’s music focuses on themes of ecology and place. Our name derives from the botanical term for the grass family, Gramineae, as the music draws on the family of grassroots traditions, from all places and ecologies. We also play for dances and other non-concert events under the name Thirsty Roots.

The Band


Dance of the Plants

Our 2015 album Dance of the Plants highlights our compositions that fall more to the grass side of class-grass.  Nonetheless, at the 2016 MAMA awards, it also won Classical Album of the Year. It includes tunes by our violist Shauncey Ali, our mandolinist Mike Bell, and tunes we wrote collaboratively – all “graminized” through our group process of arrangement and derangement. And Shauncey’s “Song for Kacy” from the album won Classical Song of the Year at the 2016 MAMAs.


Our 2013 release, which won the 2014 MAMA award for Classical Album of the Year, is a concept album, commissioned by Reedsburg’s Wormfarm Institute and premiered at their 2012 Fermentation Festival.  It is a single composition in 9 movements that celebrates the germination of life and ideas. The song “March f the Cranes” from the album also won the MAMA award for Classical Song of the Year.

Germinations served as the “starter culture” for annual sequence of composers who “de-composed” the previous year’s work into new compositions — a project we called “D-composition.”  Of course, Germinations itself was a composition in the key of D! The sequence continued for five years and led to some lovely work by other musicians.


Graminy in concert, April 13, 2012, at the Loving of the Land Concert in Mills Hall on the University of Wiconsin campus,
performing “(A Short History of Ricky and Phyllis of) The Baraboo Hills.”

Graminy in concert, January 15, 2012, at the Broom Street Theater in Madison, Wisconsin, performing “Minikanan,” a part of our “Gatherings” suite, which will be on our forthcoming third album, Dance of the Plants.

Latest News

  • What we breathe in another breathed out, and what we breathe out another will breathe in.  We’ve  written a new composition portraying this fundamental exchange of life. “We call the piece ‘Respiration: The Breath of Life and the Life of Breath,” says Graminy’s mandolinist, Mike......

  • Graminy has a new violist, Jen Clare Paulson! It was fabulous playing with Shauncey Ali for all those eight years, and he will always be a Graminoid.  But we’re all grooving on Jen’s energy, creativity, and outstanding musicianship.  Read about her here....

  • We are really looking forward to the release soon (maybe by the end of the summer) of a live album that we recorded at Madison’s Brink Lounge in January of 2018. Watch for it! It’s not titled yet, and we are still working on the......

Upcoming Shows

Jan 19th, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 11:00 pm | Concert at North Street Cabaret at North St. Cabaret | Madison, WI

Press Kit

Click on image for large version of the photos below. Outdoor photos by B. Tracy Madison. Porch photo by Andy LaValley. Shoes photo by Shauncey Ali. Photo of Graminy performing by Cassie Wolfgram.


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