grass child
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grass child

Napa, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Napa, California, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Napa’s Grass Child to open for reggae legend at Uptown"

April 11, 2012 9:08 pm • David Kerns(0) Comments

Sarah Madsen is lead vocalist for Napa’s Grass Child, local rockers who are opening for reggae legend Jimmy Cliff at the Uptown Theatre on Sunday night. Submitted photo

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Jimmy Cliff with special guest, Grass Child

• Show: Sunday, April 15, 8 p.m.

• Venue: Uptown Theatre, 1350 Third St., Napa

• Tickets: $45, $55

• Box office: 259-0123 or

Napa music fans have seen local rockers Grass Child at Porch Fest, at Battle of the Bands, at area music festivals, and at winery events. Come Sunday, they’ll have the opportunity to see the band open for Jamaican reggae star Jimmy Cliff at the Uptown Theatre.

Bass player Jonny Tindall talked about the band last week. “We’ve been around for quite some time,” he said. “We’ve been playing around the Bay Area, particularly in the Napa Valley, for 17 years.”

The band’s current lineup is Tindall on acoustic and electric bass, Brant Roscoe on acoustic and electric guitar, Barry Forsythe on drums and percussion, and their newest member, Sarah Madsen, singing lead vocals.

Tindall described Grass Child’s musical development. “When we first started out, the band was very acoustic-based,” he said. “Over the years, that kind of developed into more of an electric sound and we got more into free-form rock ’n’ roll, playing a little more experimental music on stage.

“With the addition of a female vocalist and her songwriting style,” Tindall said, “we devolved back into something that was a little more like our original style, of having more of a folk influence and a little more of the reggae or the ska, and more of that acoustic instrumentation.”

Grass Child’s 2012 album, “Marinade,” is a testament to the band members’ musicianship and versatility. The band seems equally at home with folk ballads, ska- and blues-infused rock, and funky jazz-rock fusions. Madsen has an agile alto voice. Her lead vocals are elegantly phrased, soulful and confident. Roscoe’s guitar work is impressive, whether it’s acoustic fingerpicking, syncopated Caribbean or jazz rhythms, or solo rock excursions up the neck of his Paul Reed Smith electric. Tindall is a fluid, sophisticated player, most of the time abandoning simple rhythm figures for complex melodic runs on his seven-string Conklin electric bass. And Forsythe is as solid and musical in his percussion on bongos, conga and djembe as he is behind the traditional elements of his drum kit.

Of the band’s wine country roots, Tindall said, “Brant is originally from the Sonoma County area but spent most of his life in Napa. Barry and I are originally from Napa, and Sarah grew up in Solano County. We all pretty much consider Napa home now, and it’s definitely the home of the band.”

Now in their 30s and 40s, the band members all have Napa Valley day jobs. Tindall is the hospitality director at a St. Helena winery, Roscoe has a general contracting business, Forsythe runs an engineering consultant firm dealing with construction safety, and Madsen works in the green energy sector.

One of Grass Child’s major goals is to continue recording. “Even in the midst of releasing this current album,” Tindall said, “we’re still working on another one. The approach on ‘Marinade’ was very stripped down. With this next recording project our goals are a little bit different: to flesh out our potential, to utilize the recording process as a tool, to see how much we can orchestrate our music and take our ideas to their fullest example.

“Ultimately, it’s about reconnecting with people — getting out in public with our fans,” Tindall continued. “We’ve definitely got a huge crew of people in the area that are loyal and are supporting us in so many ways. Our fans have been pushing for a long time that we were a band that was worthy of some recognition, that they would like to see us playing at the Uptown Theatre. Fortunately the people there took some notice of that and they were kind enough to give us the opportunity.

“This particular show was really the most natural fit on their calendar given our style of music as well as our fan base locally and the kind of people that would want to see both of these acts together,” he said. “Jimmy Cliff’s only request was that we open the show acoustic, because that’s what he’s doing.”

Asked if the band was excited about being on the bill with the recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Tindall enthused, “Definitely. It’s a chance to share the stage with a legend.” - Napa Valley Register

"BottleRock is a dream come true for Napa band"

BottleRock is a dream come true for Napa band
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Drummer Barry Forsythe rehearses with his band Grass Child at his house on Wednesday, April 23. Grass Child will be one of the local bands to play at the BottleRock music festival May 30 to June 1.
May 10, 2014 9:00 pm • By Howard Yune(6) Comments
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Grass Child at BottleRock

Grass Child will be the BottleRock music festival's opening band at the Napa Valley Expo's main stage on the first day, 12:45 p.m. May 30, and is slated to appear on the City Winery Local Stage at 5:15 p.m. on June 1, the festival's third and final day.


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Local music coordinator expands vision at BottleRock
When the second annual BottleRock music festival opens May 30, the roll call of musicians will include world-famous bands taking one stage – and local and regional bands seeking fame playing on another. During that three-day extravaganza at the Napa Valley Expo, one group will have its feet in both worlds and both stages.

Under two names and various lineups, Grass Child has entertained music lovers in and around Napa for nearly a quarter-century. The group has hashed out its chords in tiny clubs, at private winery properties and even as an opening act for Blues Traveler, Jimmy Cliff and Los Lonely Boys. But probably no audience of theirs over the years is likely to match the size of the throng expected at the Expo at BottleRock.

Nineteen of the festival’s acts, including Grass Child, are booked for the show’s City Winery Local Stage, the showcase for performers from across California. Grass Child’s six members, however, also will be the first musicians many fans will see in Napa – as the weekend’s opening band on the very stage reserved for The Cure, Outkast, De La Soul and other pop music luminaries.

While Grass Child will share a stage with their star peers, their underdog’s hunger to leave an impression may set them apart.

“I can almost get emotional about this — I started this dream when I was 5 years old and sitting at my mom’s piano, and I’ve been working on this dream (professionally) for 20 years now,” said Sarah Madsen, Grass Child’s lead singer. “This isn’t the be-all and end-all, but this is the closest I’ve been.”

The road to BottleRock
For Grass Child, the road to the big stage at BottleRock is lined with rehearsals in a room almost too small to contain its musicians, let alone their sound.

On an early Wednesday evening in late April, the band members trudged up the staircase of Barry Forsythe’s Coombsville house to a converted bedroom stuffed with amplifiers, wires and Forsythe’s blue-sided drum kit. A rope-like power cord snaked from another room, stuffed with monitors and tote boxes, down the parquet hallway to power the amps and microphones.

Madsen, after pulling off her shoes and shaking loose her shoulder-length brown hair, twisted her body slightly to let two of her bandmates, guitarist Brant Roscoe and percussionist John Hannaford, squeeze past her left hip to their places along one wall. To her right entered Forsythe, the band’s second guitarist Rob Sherman, and Jonny Tindall, who slung a black-lacquered seven-string electric bass around his neck.

A minute later, this handful of friends who that afternoon had been working at materials testing, guitar making, home building and other jobs morphed back into Grass Child.

As they launched into the evening’s first song, “Seem to Do,” the band’s cursive logo on Forsythe’s bass drum pulsed and vibrated, while soaring guitar licks erupted from the monitors with back-of-the-stands power and echo. Madsen’s heady, gutsy phrasing of “I don’t wanna miss you, but I always seem to do…” rippled from her microphone through the room and out the opened windows, grabbing the attention of a couple strolling outside.

A taste of the big time
As a foursome featuring Tindall, Roscoe, Forsythe and the U.S. Virgin Islands-born vocalist Kurt Schindler, the band then billed Grass Child Gypsy formed in the 1990s and gradually built a following among North Bay listeners. Playing a reggae-influenced style Tindall describes as having “a roots feel to it, with a Jack Johnson hippie-swing feel,” the musicians felt themselves tantalizingly close to grabbing the notice of listeners beyond the Bay Area, but the breakthrough never came.

“We were young and not the most organized people; we were focused on the music – had no concept of the business side of anything,” Tindall, 37, recalled last week. “We were the epitome of struggling musicians, scraping for instruments or rehearsal space.”

Eventually, the members went their separate ways, sending their band into hiatus. While Roscoe and Forsythe stayed behind in Napa and continued to get together for local gigs, Tindall moved to St. Croix for four years to manage restaurants – his musical performances now limited to occasional floatplane visits by Schindler, who had returned to his Virgin Islands homeland.

By 2009, Tindall found his way back to Napa and his onetime bandmates, but it would take a chance meeting shortly afterward to give their dormant group its second wind.

On his day job as co-owner of a home construction firm, Roscoe encountered a mortgage broker with a singing career on the side – a path that had led her to a place in a Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute act, but determined to find a fresh start.

“I stayed for four years, traveling for two weeks at a time, going out east, playing at the casinos, coming home with $1,000 every weekend,” Madsen remembered. “It was lucrative – and not very fun, because it was the same 28 songs for four years. It was like having a bad boyfriend you couldn’t break up with.”

Taking on Madsen as its lead vocalist, the band shortened its name to Grass Child and slowly rebuilt the local audience they had first won a decade before, playing 20 to 30 dates a year in Northern California. Their efforts led to opening-act appearances at the Uptown Theatre and the recording of their 2012 album, “Marmalade.”

By now, though, the musicians were entering their 30s and 40s, and the need to juggle their dream with the responsibilities of families and work. Forsythe, the drummer, needed no reminder of the daily responsibilities weighing on him; the headquarters of Forsythe Engineering Services was and remains a ground-floor desk below the room that became Grass Child’s practice studio last fall.

“You hit middle age and you have so much going on,” said the 44-year-old Forsythe, who also devotes autumns to Vintage High’s football team as a defensive line coach. “I wasn’t getting proper sleep and I was burning the candle at both ends. Something had to give, but I’m a lifetime musician and I thought I could get away with it.”

Burnout and work demands led Grass Child to take most of 2013 off, but the band got together once more that fall and added two more musicians, guitarist Sherman and percussionist Hannaford.

“It’s like you can’t get away from it, even when you try to get away. I said to myself in my 20s, ‘Oh, I guess I get to be an adult now’ – but it never really leaves you, and five years later you find yourself back in a band again because it’s calling you constantly.”

When the first BottleRock festival arrived in Napa in May 2013, Roscoe found a new target for his ambitions.

“I was in the crowd then, and I’ve been going to the Expo since I was a teenager when I was saying to my friends that this would be the perfect place to have a concert. Now I stood there watching other bands. And now I get to play there.”

Their break came in February – partly thanks to a woman who knew their act firsthand.

“I used to go to Downtown Joe’s to hear Grass Child – when they were still Grass Child Gypsy – so I’ve been a fan for years,” said Thea Witsil, the coordinator of regional musicians for the BottleRock festival, who earlier had featured the band as an organizer of the Porchfest outdoor music event in 2012.

Grass Child’s inclusion on the regional bands’ slate would be a taste of the big time, but not the full dish; musicians get free passes to the festival but no pay, according to the band members. But after years of seeking wider recognition, the Napa band members were acutely aware of the opportunity – some more vocally than others.

“It was a definite validation,” said Forsythe. “Everyone wants to play it cool and say we play for ourselves, but having an event like that … you think no one pays attention, but everyone in the street I know is saying ‘Hey, I heard you’re playing BottleRock.’ … We’ve spent a lot of time going to different places to share our music. Here, we get to share it with everyone.”

“I did play Golden Gate Park with a previous band, but it’s not lost on me that this is a big deal,” said Sherman. “… I don’t know what to expect. It’ll probably hit me when I’m coming on the stage.”

“There’s an opportunity, we all see that, to get elevated from our regional status to something larger,” he said. “It’s up to us. We have the public’s attention for 45 minutes, an hour, and what we choose to do with their attention is up to us. Will the planets and stars align?”

And what if luck doesn’t favor Grass Child’s performances on BottleRock weekend? Sherman, at least, was ready simply to soak in the festival experience.

“No, I’m not feeling any nerves,” he said. “It’s really gonna be a gas. I’m sleeping just fine.”

The urgency to leave a mark on fans seemed to burn hotter for the band’s self-described “not in my 40s” lead singer – as did her sense of family feeling for the musicians who will join her at the fairgrounds.

“It could be I give the greatest show in my life,” Madsen said. “It could be I fall flat on my face. But people will remember me. This is the best thing that’s happened to me musically, bar none. And to do it with the people beside me – it’s love. It feels like love.

“… BottleRock is a reward for a lot of hard work. But even if nothing were to come of it (afterward), we’ll still play; no matter what, we’ll continue playing together. I don’t have any expectations, but a girl can dream, and I sure as heck am.” - Napa Valley Register


Still working on that hot first release.



Grass Child: (n.) est. 5/09. Five (5) members; Sarah Madsen, Brant Roscoe, Rob Sherman, Jonny Tindall, Barry Forsythe. Original music written by Grass Child. Derived from 'Grass Child Gypsy'


Grass Child is a true collaborative effort between five veteran performers, each contributing their own signature sound.


With a rich history of performances with pedigree artists over their 17-year history, Grass Child has recently been invited to share the stage with legendary performers the likes of The Cure, Outkast, Eric Church, Gregg Allman, Jimmy Cliff, Blues Traveler, Los Lonely Boys, Weezer, TV on the Radio, Heart, Matt & Kim, Sublime, The Fray and many more.


Brant Roscoe's perplexing rhythms & electrifying solos along with Jonny Tindall'sgenre-bending, intricate bass-lines set the group's melodic foundations.


The unmatched & timeless dexterity whilst navigating both a specialty kit & traditional trap at the hands and feet of Barry Forsythe keeps listeners moving & weightless.


Sarah Madsen colors the Grass Child sound & weaves universal tales with vocal prowess ranging from raw power to heartwrenching melancholy and brings the Grass Child sound together into one delicious mix.


New addition Rob Sherman brings a new flavor & dimension to the collective's sound, making the tapestry of the band more colorful, vibrant & complex with every passing note.


Whether fully electric on an outdoor stage or completely stripped down for an intimate acoustic engagement; versatility in sound is but one of the tools Grass Child masters.


Let yourself be mesmerized by the dance between guitar & bass; let your bones be caressed by driving drums; let even your skin enjoy the sensation of the soaring vocals.

Band Members