The Mighty Grasshoppers Are A Rock N Roll Band, and this rootsy but never retro album is a powerhouse debut and rock show revue.
Review from Michael Toland @ The Big Take Over:
For those wondering what genius guitarist/songwriter Tony Fate is up to after his departure from the BellRays (outside of making casual instrumental solo albums), here’s your answer. Fate hooked up with his singer/songwriter buddy Chris LeRoy to form the roots-rocking Mighty Grasshoppers. Working a sort of sweet spot located between Doug Sahm and Rockpile, the Grasshoppers eschew trendy production/arrangement tricks for simple, straightforward writing and performances. Moving between romantic travails like “Breakdown,” “Too Late Too Soon” and “Think About Me” and more philosophical rants like “Caravan,” “Big Pile O’ Rocks” and “Let It Drown,” the four-piece rocks, roll and rambles through 14 tightly-written tunes with a shred of inefficiency or pretention. Why waste time with gimmicks or stylemongering when there’s good tunes to play? There isn’t an ounce of fat on The Mighty Grasshoppers, which leads to a most satisfying rock & roll experience.
The Mighty Grasshoppers
By: Waleed Rashidi
“I remember ducking, leaning over to Tony and exclaiming, ‘This is rock and roll.’”
That’s Chris LeRoy, one-quarter of predominantly Redlands-based The Mighty Grasshoppers, recalling what he said to guitarist/vocalist Tony Fate during an unforgettable gig in 1979.
The band at the time was an early iteration of the current project, then known as The Mountain Valley Grasshoppers. The show was at Cal State San Bernardino and the LeRoy recalls that the pair were on the receiving end of constant requests to play songs by The Eagles.
“Ever the crowd pleaser, I said we only knew one and proceeded to play a half-hour version of Mahalia Jackson’s gospel slow burner, ‘In the Upper Room.’ Beer bottles started flying and general mayhem ensued, but we kept playing.”
is right. Some 31 years later, Fate and LeRoy are still performing
together. Since that pairing, Fate’s been in The Sins, The Grey Spikes,
The Black Widows and The BellRays. Chris started The Dangers, formed
Death of Me and reformed The Dangers. And last year, the two launched
The Mighty Grasshoppers with drummer Art Schindele and Tim Loughlin on
And they certainly live up
to the new adjective in their name. A self-described “song and dance
band,” the quartet concentrates on making their songs the priority. Spin
some of their cuts and you’ll hear an act that fully understands what
it takes to craft a terrific tune.
“Remember all the one-hit wonder bands from the ’50s [through the] ’70s?” LeRoy asks. “We want to be that band, song by song, over and over again, 12 times an album and 17 times a set.” You can hear the set as these Grasshoppers will play the Family Music Room this weekend, offering a teaser for their new album with LeRoy and Fate as an acoustic/electric Mighty Grasshopper duo. (LeRoy promises the full band will perform there in the future.)
Looking further down 2010 and into 2011 is left to Fate, who’s actually content with the present. “I think this interview is the ultimate achievement,” he says. “There’s nowhere else to go.”
Oh, as for another story about an unforgettable gig, there’s also Fate’s selection: “We got paid once.”ORIGINAL MEMBERS & INSTRUMENTS: Chris
LeRoy (vocals, guitar, piano, organ); Tony Fate (guitar, vocals); Tim
Loughlin (bass, vocals); Art Schindele (drums, vocals).
CITIES OF ORIGIN: Redlands, Los Angeles.
RECENT RELEASE: The Mighty Grasshoppers (Vital Gesture Records)
KINDRED SPIRITS: A sampling of stuff LeRoy and Fate mention includes ’50s rock ‘n’ roll, ’60s rock, pop and soul, country and jazz, plus The Lovin‘ Spoonful, the MC5, the Ramones, Miles Davis, Discharge and Duke Ellington. (Note: There’s way more from where this list came.)