In the early 90’s, Grass Child Gypsy sprung to life from the melee of rock/post-metal collective ‘Witch Hazel,’ a group founded by Grass Child Gypsy members, vocalist Kurt Briggs Schindler, guitarist Brant Roscoe and percussionist Barry Forsythe. With the addition of bassist Tommy Hill (founding member and chief songwriter for the neo-flamenco groups Akanthos and Rumba Tribe), the band set forward on a different path; creating music with danceable influence channeling Schindler’s Virgin Island roots and the improvisational influences of then-current Bay Area artists. The powerful and playful lyricism and songwriting, combined with instrumental prowess from this group of multi-faceted players took shape quickly and caused the group’s following to grow at a furious pace.
Following the release of the band’s self-titled full-length debut album, Hill departed from the group and area bassist Jonny Tindall joined in 1996, adding his own non-traditional playing and songwriting styles to the already successful collective. Improvisations, songwriting and live performances took natural shape for the quartet; who often invited other performers to join the lineup on stage and in the studio.
The band wrote, recorded, produced and released a second full-length album in 1999, aptly titled ‘Evolution.’ The sophomore effort by the group showed an increasing affinity for calypso and reggae, as well as a marked refinement in syncopation and detail. Evolution’s release placed the band on stage with dozens of national caliber players ranging in genre from rock, reggae, blues and world beat.
The original Grass Child Gypsy disbanded in the mid-2000’s following Schindler’s return to the Caribbean; a locale where he has since seen great success as a touring solo performer and founding member of the islands’ wildly popular Drunk Dumplins lineup.
The remaining members reformed in California in 2009, simply as ‘Grass Child,’ adding the powerful and accomplished bay-area vocalist Sarah Shin-Madsen to the forefront of the group. With a solid, three-octave range and steady touring history, Shin-Madsen soon carved out an important and influential niche in the group’s ever-evolving sound.
In 2010, the next evolution of Grass Child produced an EP-length release, unofficially titled “Hobo Bridge,” which featured a sampling of the quartet’s earliest songwriting efforts over four tracks spanning genres from progressive rock, calypso, reggae and southern-rock. On the heels of this release, the band set out on an intensive schedule of live appearances throughout the west coast.
Grass Child entered the studio again in 2012 to capture their newly-penned original tracks, many of which had never been performed live or even as a group. It was said many times in the preceding months that the band needed some time for “marinating,” and with that the full-length album “Marinade” was released late that year. Predominantly acoustic and reflective of the group’s individual and collective songwriting prowess, the album was a rare gem of energy not previously expressed.
Due to the growing popularity of the band and the success of their first full-length release, over the years that followed Grass Child garnered numerous invitations for main stage performances at regional festivals and engagements in support of headline acts such as The Cure, No Doubt, The Avett Brothers, Ziggy Marley, Gregg Allman, Los Lonely Boys, Los Lobos, Blues Traveler, Michael Franti and Spearhead, The Cold War Kids, Houndmouth, Ozomatli, Jimmy Cliff and many more.
2019 marked the 10th Anniversary of Grass Child and 23 years of Grass Child Gypsy. Today, the members of both groups remain close friends and collaborators and continue to create music and appear on stage together.
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