GrapeGrass is a new acoustic Salt Lake City supergroup led by fiddler/composer and Utah fiddle champion Amanda B. Grapes. The band resonates with a wide variety of audiences, performing Amanda's original music and other favorite tunes from the bluegrass, Celtic, and folk genres. Amanda is joined by some of the most dynamic and highly trained performers on the Salt Lake City acoustic music scene, with core members Ben Weiss (mandolin, guitar), Dylan Schorer (guitar), Zach Downes (bass), and Bob Smith (bodhran).
GrapeGrass Member Bios
Amanda B. Grapes - Fiddle, Vocals
Amanda B. Grapes is an American fiddler, violinist, and composer. Fluent in multiple musical genres, her original music draws from traditional bluegrass, Celtic, Classical, and more. Amanda has been playing the violin/fiddle since the age of two and picked up fiddling at the age of seven when her family moved to the bluegrass state of Kentucky. She started writing original tunes a few years ago when she went to live on a hippie farm in Kansas with Sage Cook (formerly of Elephant Revival) and his new band WE DREAM DAWN. Now back in civilization, she currently plays her original compositions with GrapeGrass and also fiddles with Pixie and the Partygrass Boys.
Amanda graduated with honors from Furman University with a Bachelor of Science in Earth and Environmental Sciences while simultaneously studying music with Tom Joiner. She won the Furman Concerto Competition and graduated as concertmaster of the Symphony. As a child in Kentucky she won numerous fiddle contests and reentered the contest scene in 2015. She won both Utah State Fiddle Championships (Utah State Instrument Championship and the National Old Time fiddler’s State Contest) and was a finalist (top 5) at the Walnut Valley (Winfield) Old Time Fiddle Championship.
Ben Weiss - Mandolin/Guitar
Ben Weiss is a Salt Lake City native studying jazz guitar at the University of Utah and playing hot bluegrass mandolin on the side. You may have seen this talented guy playing with a variety of other bands in the Salt Lake Valley, including (but not limited to) Pixie and the Partygrass Boys and the Umbrella Brothers. When not playing music you can find Ben on the ski slopes or otherwise enjoying all that the great Utah outdoors has to offer.
Daron Shupe - Banjo
Daron has been playing banjo since the age of 6, and has been playing professionally since the age of 10. During his career Daron has performed at countless festivals throughout the country, and has recorded on numerous music projects. Daron has held the title of Utah State Banjo Champion on several occasions. Daron is seldom attired in anything but black, and gets grouchy when people tell him to wear more color. Daron's banjo is heavy.
Zach Downes - Upright Bass
Zach Downes is a local treasure; born and raised in Salt Lake City and a graduate of Judge High School. He got his music degree from Northern Arizona University where he studied with jazz legend Joel Dibartolo. Now, Zach is a music teacher at JE Cosgriff by day and a musical genius by night. Zach is the sparkling bass player of both Pixie and the Partygrass Boys and GrapeGrass, playing a wide variety of music. He likes to snowboard, and loves his mother.
Bob Smith - Percussion
“I have been fortunate to have played with amazing musicians……Period. This makes me infinitely more capable of finding and playing a most soulful groove for their music.” – Bob
Bob is a ‘Life’ Adventurer. And in his adventures, he finds love for those that surround him and creativity with those he loves, and his means are in his rhythms. Bob nearly always has some sort of drum strapped around his shoulder, making it clear that he loves to play. And though, Bob is a relatively new-comer to the Bluegrass scene, one certainly wouldn’t know that by the passion he exhibits for this music. It may appear Bob is a ‘serious’ player, but inside is a smile as endless as the universe itself.