When Adam Grace and his fellow bandmates in the Nashville-based roots-jam outfit the Truth & Salvage Co. first joined forces in a loosey-goosey, 12-person band, they never thought their partnership would become much of anything. The Denim Family Band was a good-time gig, not a job. "It was really born of wanting to have an outlet to have fun and play music and not take it serious," says Grace, organist for Truth and Salvage and one of the band's four songwriters. "We just got together and had fun and didn't have any intention of making a career out of it."
Grace says, "It was a revolving door for anyone. There were no rules. It was just like if you want to have a fun outlet or side project to do, be in our band. That's what really drew people to it. They knew it was all about just having fun and it was all about the party. It really kind of still is."
The Truth & Salvage organist adds, "It's one of those things where if you keep the party going, they're going to want to be a part of it. It's something we always try to do. We burn the spliff at both ends."
After the Denim Family Band evolved into the Truth and Salvage Co., Grace and the guys were introduced to Chris Robinson's manager, who dug their sound and offered to introduce them to the Black Crowes' frontman. But first Robinson's manager wanted to know something.
"He just said, 'I think I can do something for you guys. Have you ever thought about taking it serious?'" Grace recalls. "Things happened really quickly after that, because Chris was looking to start a record label and really looking for an artist to be his first protégé band and we filled that bill."
In 2009 Robinson produced their four-song self-titled EP. All of the songs eventually wound up on the band's 2010 Robinson-produced self-titled full-length debut for his Silver Arrow label. It garnered good reviews, and Grace and his bandmates toured with the Black Crowe frontman in '09 and '10 and grew their audience.
However, the band felt they needed to expand their fanbase on the East Coast. So after at least a half-dozen years cultivating friends and connections in Los Angeles, the band relocated to Nashville in 2011.
"It was both painful and emotional, but at the same time we had come to a point where we knew it was the smartest thing business-wise for us," Grace says. "We'd become a really big West Coast band ... and it was nothing more than trying to do the same thing in a different region."
Since moving to Nashville, the band has also tweaked their sound just a bit. While they still offer a canny blend of Laurel Canyon folk, cosmic Gram Parsons country, Southern groove-roots, and harmonic piano pop, for their new record, Pick Me Up, they're attempting to recapture the jammy spirit of their live shows.
"Our songs stretch out a little more," Grace says. "We did want to incorporate some — not too much — of it, but just enough to give a taste of what it is we do live." Pick Me Up is scheduled for a July release.
Grace ultimately traces the band's success to their relative lack of ambition. This isn't the music business to them, just music. "The perception is that you want to be successful, but for us it's always been about the experience, the party, and the hang," he says. "We always love a packed house, but some of our greatest and best shows have been in front of a few people. And that experience is just as important as when we played in front of 20- to 30,000 people."
"The experience of traveling and getting to meet so many people, that is why we do it," Grace adds. "Making friends and knowing that no matter what city you're in there's a door that you can knock on where someone will welcome you in. That's huge and an experience you can't buy. You have to earn that."