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Yankee Grey

May 24, 2000

Matt Basford's favorites:

Country bands: Restless Heart and Alabama

Way to kick back: Make computer graphics using a 3D program with animation capabilities. He designed the group's Web site at www.yankeegrey.com.

Concert attire: Leather jacket. He says he likes to be dressy on stage, particularly with colored shirts. No cowboy hats, though.

Restaurant: Ruth's Chris Steak House, a chain restaurant that he's dined at in Nashville, Tenn. It offers a great filet mignon, he said.

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By MEG H. PARTINGTON / Staff Writer

With influences from Aerosmith, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Eagles and Alabama, Yankee Grey created its own brand of unbridled country music.

cont. from lifestyle

Member Matt Basford said he was a big KISS fan, but in the early 1980s, he turned to country, a genre he used to consider "old-people music."

"You're not as angry as you used to be," Basford said, explaining how his taste moved away from rock.

But growing up doesn't mean slowing down to this group of 30-somethings.

"Radio's been lovin' us," said Basford in a telephone interview from Reno, Nev., where the group was preparing to do a show at a casino with Brad Paisley. The group's "Another Nine Minutes" and "All Things Considered" are getting considerable airplay on country stations.

The band left Nashville, Tenn., on April 26, and reached Reno on May 12 after doing shows all over, including in Colorado, Arizona and California. Its bus will park in Boonsboro for a performance Wednesday, May 31, during The Great Boonsboro Carnival.

Basford, who plays guitar and does background vocals, formed the band in 1986 with drummer Kevin Griffin. Lead singer and acoustic guitarist Tim Hunt and bassist David Buchanan joined the group five years later. Fiddler Joe Caverlee and keyboard player Jerry Hughes came along five years after that.

The band members played in the same club scene in Cincinnati, so they were familiar with each others' styles. Now that they're together on the same stage, there's a definite musical chemistry.

"You can tell that we're a band that's been together a long time," said Basford, 37. The guys can read each others' body language well enough to know when one is about to launch into an incredible solo, a feeling he likened to a basketball player being in "the zone."

While the band's name usually evokes images of the Civil War, Basford said its roots aren't that sophisticated.

He was drinking tea one day. The manufacturer was Yankee Trader Tea. The flavor was Earl Grey. Hence the name Yankee Grey.

It is merely a coincidence that the band is from the north but it plays Southern rock.

A name is catchy, "but music is what talks," Basford said.

Basford calls Yankee Grey a "15-year-old overnight success."

The band members moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1997, to take a chance at fame.

"It was the hardest time in this band's life," Basford recalled.

After 1 1/2 years in the recording studio, Yankee Grey's debut album, "Untamed," hit record store shelves last year.

While many recordings feature studio musicians, Yankee Grey's release uses music created solely by the band members, not to mention some homegrown songs.

Hunt wrote seven of the 10 songs on the CD. Caverlee and Hunt worked together on "This Time Around," and Caverlee and Hughes wrote "There's Only One."

Last month, the band made its debut at the Grand Ole Opry.

"That was incredible," Basford said of the place that he considers sacred ground.

But there's no time to get comfortable with its current fame if the band wants to have a successful future. The members are preparing to go to the studio to work on demos for the next recording.

"The work never ends," Basford said.

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