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Jack Grace (musician)

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John Pancaldo (born March 25, 1968), better known by his stage name Jack Grace, is a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who’s been touring and recording for over 25 years. Over his career, his music has spanned rock, alt-country, and Americana. He’s performed with a diverse array of artists, including Jerry Lee Lewis, Norah Jones, Doc Watson, Fishbone, Junior Brown, The Meters and once shared the bill with Merle Haggard.He's also contributed music to movies, Super Troopers and Super Troopers 2, which featured songs from his solo projects and with Steak[1] as well as “What I Drink and Who I Meet at the Track,” heard in Beerfest.[2]

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Westchester County, NY, his early aspiration was a career in acting. He learned to play guitar in high school, and his obsession with music ultimately overtook those ambitions. His first band was Steak, formed with songwriter, guitarist, and later screenwriter, Erik Lieblein. The two met through mutual friends at a four-day Grateful Dead show at the Alpine Valley Music Theatre in Wisconsin. They began playing together and writing songs. Steak emerged from their collaboration, and after relocating to Boulder, CO, bassist TJ and drummer Stu Damm joined the band. The group attained a rabid fanbase and released three albums and an EP, eventually relocating to San Francisco. Originally a funky rock group with Zappa-esque overtones, the group's last recording, Feasting on Famine, had strong country and Americana overtones.

When Steak decided to take a break, Pancaldo returned to New York City and decided to go solo. Changing his name to Jack Grace (using his grandparent's first names), he continued his exploration of Country music but put a decidedly urban spin on it. His first solo venture, Introducing the Sounds of Jack Grace, was released in 1999. An acoustic affair, Grace recorded both originals and a couple of covers with just a vocalist and upright bassist to accompany him. In addition to his lead vocals, Grace performed guitar, banjo, accordion, and harmonica.

For his gigs and subsequent recordings, he functioned as bandleader with a rotating stable of local musicians, including drummer Bruce Martin (Tom Tom Club), lap steel guitarist Drew Glackin (The Silos), bassist J. Anthony Granelli, and others. For his second recording, Grace this time employed a full band. Stayin' Out All Night was released in 2001, with Glackin, Granelli, and drummer Russ Meissner providing the core group for the recording and live performances as well as the follow-up album, I Like It Wrong (2004), with guests like Martin and Neil Thomas (Dirty Water Dogs) and piano and accordion. Exclaim! lauded Grace’s style: “His beaten down Nashville bar band delivery gives an authenticity to his work that many similar artists lose to studio tweaking.”[3]

Grace thrived on the burgeoning Brooklyn Country music scene, and began to formulate an idea for a “Country concept album.” Acknowledging the unique nature of a journeyman Country singer from New York City, Grace crafted the persona of the Martini Cowboy, an urbane playboy whose roots were firmly rooted in the music of Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and other classic Country artists.

While developing the songs for the album, he met and married bassist Daria Grace née Klotz (Melomane) who replaced Granelli on bass and became his main backup vocalist. Recording again with Glackin on lap steel and Meissner on drums, the album also featured Bruce Martin on backing vocals, glockenspiel, accordion, percussion, and cuica along with pianist Jon Dryden. The Martini Cowboy was released in 2008 and received good reviews. Lucid Culture praised the album, raving, “packed with haunting, gorgeously old-fashioned, 1960s style country songs with tasteful electric guitar, soaring pedal steel, piano and a rhythm section that swings like the dickens…There’s not a weak song on this album…”[4]

In 2008, Grace became a recurring guest contributor on the WNYC program, "The Takeaway." He reviewed the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards,[5] 2008 CMJ Music Marathon,[6] the Tony Awards,[7] and more.

For his next project, he proceeded with a looser concept. Drinking Songs for Lovers, released in 2010, would embody the common tropes of Country songs with Grace's signature twist. Songs ranged from the humorous to the eulogistic. His friend and long-time bandmate Drew Glackin had passed away suddenly, and the shock and grief at his death is reflected in "It Was a Really Bad Year" and "I Still Can't Believe That You're Gone." The record also found Grace working with some new players, namely Bill Malchow on piano, Jason Bowman on drums (Five Points Band), Mike Neer on lap steel, and the introduction of the Broken Mariachi horns featuring J. Walter Hawkes (The Hot Sardines) and Rob Henkes. Special guests included Grace's former guitar teacher Tom Hanway and John Sebastian from The Lovin' Spoonful.

Grace's next two projects continued to explore new elements to broaden the scope of his sound, including bossa nova rhythms and jazz. 2015's Everything I Say Is a Lie saw the return of the Broken Mariachi Horns and also featured Philippa Thompson on violin and saw along with Joe Exley on tuba. Special guest Norah Jones contributed vocals to the track "Bad Wind Blowing."

His most recent release, What a Way to Spend a Night (2021) was recorded in Cambridge, UK with his local collaborators, bassist Fabian Bonner and drummer Ian Griffith. The album showed advancement of his guitar playing and stylistic shifts more rooted in rock than Country. Reviewers noted the change: "...[they] embrace many variations of rock that take influences from the ‘60s on, and are never tied to a specific genre, but emit much timelessness and familiarity."[8]<[9] and "Grace can sing anything with his sandpapered voice because he exudes sincerity through his lyrics. A novelty-oriented song “Mr. Sanderson & Sons Amazing Secret Traveling Show” is actually turned in wonderfully poignant. As clever as The Beatles’ 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite.'”[10]

He is currently finishing up his next album, due for release later this year.


  1. Super Troopers (2001) - Soundtracks - IMDb, retrieved 2024-01-02
  2. Beerfest (2006) - Soundtracks - IMDb, retrieved 2024-01-02
  3. "Jack Grace - I Like It Wrong".
  4. "CD Review: The Jack Grace Band – The Martini Cowboy". Lucid Culture. 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2024-01-01.
  5. "The Martini Cowboy reviews the 43rd Annual Academy of Country Music Awards | The Takeaway". WNYC Studios. Retrieved 2024-01-01.
  6. "2008 CMJ Music Marathon: 1000 artists at 65 venues, all hoping to be discovered | The Takeaway". WNYC. Retrieved 2024-01-01.
  7. "The Takeaway goes Broadway for the 2008 Tony Awards | The Takeaway". WNYC. Retrieved 2024-01-01.
  8. NEW YORK MUSIC DAILY. "Ubiquitously Entertaining New York Americana Tunesmith Returns to an Old Haunt in SoHo". Retrieved 2024-01-01.
  9. "Jack Grace Band". 26 July 2021.
  10. Apice, John (2021-06-24). "REVIEW: Jack Grace Band "What a Way To Spend a Night" - Americana Highways". Retrieved 2024-01-01.

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