about Graminy

Graminy is an award-winning concert ensemble that fuses classical and grassroots music into a toe-tapping yet sophisticated style of Americana we call “class-grass.”  Our performances are energetic and dynamic, with generous improvisation. We play from notes on the page, and we take them off the page into the spontaneity of the musical moment. Our instrumentation blends a classical string trio (violin, viola, and cello) with elements of a bluegrass rhythm section (mandolin, guitar and banjo) to create something, as one reviewer put it, “…both complex and immediate, elusive and apparent.”


Graminy presents original compositions that reflect 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.


Graminy’s 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.


We also play for dances and other non-concert events under the name Thirsty Roots.

The Band


Live at the Brink

Feel the pulse of live class-grass in this new Graminy album, Live at the Brink. There’s nothing quite like the energy of a live performance, the audience and the band synergizing with each other. It was recorded in one of our favorite clubs, Madison’s Brink Lounge. We include several tunes that folks have been asking us to release for several years. It’s all on Bandcamp, Spotify, iTunes, and other streaming services as well.

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.


A fun video about the making of our award-winning 2015 album, Dance of the Plants.

Graminy in a 2015 concert, playing our train song, Loco Motive, an arrangement of a Mike Bell fiddle tune, “Wiretappers.” A version of this will appear on our forthcoming album, “Live at the Brink.”.

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 November of 2017. Watch for it! It’s not titled yet, and we are still working on the......

Upcoming Shows

Sep 1st, 2019 - May 31st, 2020 at 12:00 am | Graminy's 2019-2020 season: Check back soon for more dates! at | , 
Nov 23rd, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm | Graminy Concert at the Arts and Literature Laboratory at Arts and Literature Laboratory | Madison, WI

Press Kit

Graminy’s “one page” band overview is HERE.

Outdoor photos by Ken Halfmann. Shoes photo by Shauncey Ali. Photo of Graminy performing by Cassie Wolfgram.

For high resolution photos of the band, contact us at graminy.classgrass [at] gmail.com


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