Local rock duo releases first album | From the archives/Weekend read
Last updated 8/26/2020 at 12:40pm
Editor's note: The Beacon is republishing stories we think will be of interest to readers. This feature is on the Grace & DeGroot. The story, written by former editor Sara Bruestle, was originally published July 8, 2015.
The frontman of the local Stephen Grace Band has recorded his first album – except it's with his newer band.
"Musical Chairs," released on the Fourth of July, is the debut album of the rock duo Grace & DeGroot.
Stephen Grace and Derek DeGroot formed the band in 2012 with the mission to record original songs reminiscent of the classic-rock era.
"I've spent most my life as a professional musician, but never released a full album," Grace said. "I'm like Eric Clapton meets Paul McCartney with no hit record."
The two met in 2004 when DeGroot showed up at Grace's doorstep to pick up his daughter for a date.
Grace and DeGroot hit it off immediately when they discovered they shared a love of music.
It wasn't long before they were jamming, with Grace on guitar and DeGroot on the saxophone.
Then, in 2005, Grace invited DeGroot to join the Mukilteo classic-rock cover band that shares his name.
"He was an amateur at the time, but he had the drive to become a really good sax player," Grace said. "We took him along to gigs, and eventually he willed himself into being one of the best sax players I've ever heard.
"I can't say enough about him."
Though Grace is now a cover-band man, he wrote songs in the '70s and '80s that he demoed but never recorded. After a jam, he let DeGroot listen to them.
"When I heard the songs, I just thought to myself, 'Why hasn't this been recorded? Why isn't this out there?' and so I pushed for us to try to find a way to do that," DeGroot said.
"Musical Chairs" features 11 of Grace's original songs, such as "Look What You've Done," "Summer Nights on the Rooftops" and "I Can't Wait to See You."
The father-in-law and son-in-law duo – DeGroot and Grace's daughter, Skye, hit it off, too, and married in 2012 – added saxophone and recorded the songs at Studio0Four in Marysville.
"I've been writing songs forever," Grace said. "I don't know why I waited so long. I've done work in the studio for people, just nothing more than demos."
Grace (guitar, lead vocals) and DeGroot (saxophone, vocals) were joined by Michael Daily (drums), Jimmy Culler (bass), George Clark (bass) and Charles Altman (keyboard) in the studio.
"When Derek and I sing, we're really lucky," Grace said. "We're both OK singers apart, but together we're like the the Everly Brothers. We fell into that, and it works well for us."
Some of the band's influences are the Beatles, Loggins & Messina, Paul Carrack and the Doobie Brothers.
"It (the album) really has the classic-rock sound. It's definitely true to the era," DeGroot said, adding that it combines the backbeat, slide guitar, sax and gritty vocals of classic rock.
In addition to the Stephen Grace Band, DeGroot is in three more cover bands: The Penguins, The Wingmen and Speedway Boogie. Speedway Boogie is Grace's newest band.
"I played saxophone through high school and put it away," DeGroot said. "It sat up in the attic for a couple of years, but when I met Skye and started talking to Steve, he said 'You should pull it out sometime.'
"I didn't know how prevalent it was in rock music. It all started with playing with Steve."
Now that Grace's songs are recorded, Grace & Degroot have a second album in the works.
"Derek is starting to write, too, so we've got more songs coming," Grace said.
To hear songs from "Musical Chairs" listen online at https://soundcloud.com/gracedegroot/sets/grace-degroot-musical-chairs/s-hBl5r.