The Pickle Bio

Pickled Okra, from Seattle Washington, is an entirely different category of Bluegrass band. They are a true cross-over, appealing to casual AND true bluegrass fans. Though their definitive sound spans a wide slice of Americana, it could also be described as “old-school, porch-settin’, singin' into a can-style bluegrass”. Devout practitioners of single mic performance, they never quite fit completely into a ‘generic’ bluegrass groove, they tend to skirt the edges of many different genres, infusing their sound with twinges of funk, reggae, pop, and gypsy jazz, and regularly offer up “pickled” versions of pop/rock tunes by the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, and Bob Marley, to name a few.

What really defines the band’s appeal however, is it’s members. Todd and Paisley Gray, an old married couple who enjoy dressing in early Appalachian finery and weaving their intricate harmonies together with the high tones of the mandolin and low bellows of the bass. Todd manages to barely tolerate Paisley's bad jokes and remarkably they've not kilt each other even though they've been playing together since 2006. 

Todd, thought of as the ‘heart’ of the band, hails from New England, and has been a professional drummer for decades, long before taking up the mandolin. He brings a distinctive style born from early influences of reggae, prog rock, and fusion jazz. If Todd is the heart, Paisley is the face. Flamboyant, and larger than life, this Montana mountains native is often described as “the Minnie Pearl of the West”. Musical influences she brings to the table come from the folk, punk rock, psychedelic rock, and jam band genres. No one knows where her bad jokes come from.

Throughout the life of the band there has always been some sort of banjo present, so don't be surprised if you catch a show with one sitting in. It is actually an important part of the band's sound, but the appearance of banjo is entirely dependent on which banjo wielding friend happens to be free at the time of the performance.

Pickled Okra has gained some recognition for charming audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest, and their recordings have attracted the attention of music industry fixtures as far away as The UK. Expect the unexpected from these two creative powerhouses.

 

 

Endorsements

...

"Hi! Teresa here.....Brandi's Mom! I cannot thank you all enough for making the wedding such an amazing nite! You were absolutely WONDERFUL! So gracious , Fun , and extremely talented! You are by far one of the most talented groups I have EVER seen! Brandi told me you were great , but I could not have imagined just HOW great! We were completely blown away at your talent! You made the evening soooo Fun and memorable!!! We will Never forget it!! Thank You! ~ Thank You!!"
  - Teresa Carlile - 9/28/2012 Brandi Carlile's wedding, Enumclaw, WA

 


"Pickled Okra was absolutely AMAZING! They arrived on time...set up...and got to work! The crowd really loved their energy."
  -Katie H. 5/4/2012 - Fundraiser in Seattle, WA

 


"You guys rocked the house with your personalities and music! Everyone is still talking about you guys and hope you will be back to play at the Red Dog again. Thank you for making the party a success! If anyone is looking for a band that will knock it out of the park hire Pickled Okra!!! Thanks again!!" 
 - Jennifer F. - 10/22/2011 Red Dog Saloon Birthday Party, Maple Valley, WA

 


"We loved having Pickled Okra play our Dept of Family Medicine picnic. They arrived on time and in style and were super friendly and wonderful. Excellent musicians too, playing MANY of my favorite songs, even without request, they just "get it." I really enjoyed their music as did everyone at the party and I will seek them out for my future listening pleasure, thank you!"
  - Amanda H. - 8/16/2011 Company picnic, Seattle, WA

 


"I booked Pickled Okra for a Industry Networking and BBQ event. They were absolutely awesome to work with! A very talented and professional group! Everyone raved about them!! I highly recommend them and will be looking for a chance to hire them again!"
  - Lorrie S. - 7/15/2011 Corporate function, Seattle, WA

 


"Thank you for coming into the Cloudview Farm/community and sharing your talents and energy with all of the 'Co-creators' and Guests therein assembled. It was just a magical night for me and everyone is still abuzz with what a fun time was had! I, personally, can't thank You enough!!! That fine line of energy exchange between Entertainers and Entertainees seemed to vanish and a higher plateau was reached! Everyone wants you back next year, again! Thanks for helping co-Create a wonderful experience for ALL"
. - Jim Baird - 8/22/2011 Cloudview Farm Community event, Royal City, WA

 


"Pickled Okra exceeded my wildest hopes in all aspects of their contribution to our celebration. They were professional, friendly, accommodating, wildly entertaining, and FUN! Our guests, a number of whom are musicians, were blown away and asked for their business card. We will recommend them highly and certainly will book them again in future!"
  - Jan M. - 4/28/2011 Private Party, Mountlake Terrace, WA

 


"Husband and wife team Todd and Paisley Gray...prove that old-time bluegrass is not the property solely of those who have assimilated it from an early age in it's spiritual heartlands."
  - David Innes - 7/11/2012 Rock & Reel Magazine, UK

 


"...their delightful old-timey look at life produced a harvest of original songs filled with bouncy rhythms, intriguing lyric juxtapositions, and a sense of humor that tickles the senses. Yummy!"
  - Brenda - 5/7/2012 California Bluegrass Association

High Res Photos

Click on one of the images below
(opens the hi res version in a new window)

 
 
 

Notable Gigs

  • Nectar Lounge
    12/17/2016  ::  Seattle, WA
  • Wintergrass
    3/2/2013  ::  Bellevue, WA
  • Historic Everett Theatre
    2/16/2013 :: Everett, WA
  • Brandi Carlile's wedding
    9/28/2012 :: Enumclaw, WA
  • George Washington BG Fest
    9/15/2012 :: George, WA
  • Wild & Scenic Music Fest
    8/25/2012 :: Leavenworth, WA
  • Rockygrass (band competition)
    7/28/2012 :: Lyons, CO
  • Folklife Music Fest
    5/28/2012 :: Seattle, WA
  • The Wilma Theatre
    2/9/2012 :: Missoula, MT
  • Byrnes Performing Arts Center
    12/10/2011 :: Arlington, WA
  • Wild & Scenic Music Fest
    8/27/2011 :: Leavenworth, WA
  • Folklife Music Fest
    5/28/2010 :: Seattle, WA


Discography

(top)

In a Pickle
The first CD filled with traditional bluegrass songs and some not so traditional

  1. Doug's Tune
  2. Still Haven't Found (yes THAT Still haven't found)
  3. Yonder Mountain (by Tony Markey)
  4. Lil Sadie
  5. Aint No grave
  6. Cripple Creek
  7. Fly Away Mashup
  8. LIl Maggie
  9. Purdy Daughter
  10. Sugarland Run
  11. Ruthie
  12. Rocky Top

A Pickled Christmas
The Second CD of pickled holiday tunes

  1. Joy To World
  2. Jingle Bells
  3. Blue Christmas
  4. Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
  5. Santa Baby
  6. Away in a Manger
  7. Deck the Halls
  8. O Holy Night
  9. Santa Rap

Sounds Like Chicken
The Third CD nothing but originals on this one

  1. Rainbow Dreams-Todd
  2. No Rest For The Wicked-Todd
  3. Stringtime In The Summer-Todd
  4. Waste Our Precious Time-Tony
  5. Round Pond-Todd
  6. I Made It-Todd
  7. Mattie Hackett-Paisley
  8. Blood Moon-Tony
  9. Won’t You Tell Me Darlin-Todd & Paisley
  10. Roots Music-Paisley
  11. My Friend Bill-Paisley
  12. You And Me-Todd & Paisley

News & Reviews

(top)

Sounds Like Chicken Reviews

:: R2 (Rock n Reel) Magazine
Husband and wife Todd and Paisley Gray and their banjo-wielding friend, Tony Markey, prove that old-time bluegrass is not the property soley of those who have assimilated it from an early age in its spiritual heartlands. Pickled Okra are based in Seattle although Todd is from Maine and Markey is Alaskan. 'Sounds Like Chicken' is infused with the type of optimism that endears even curmudgeonly reviewers to Jonathan Richman or Barenaked Ladies and the sunny disposition of most of the lyrical content spills over into the pappable joy of the Okras' melodies and edgy harmonies. Even when there's been a storm the previous night, in 'Stringtime In the Summer', the corn is drying and we can have a bluegrass jam and a picnic. And what is it about these down-home tunes that demand a song about the delights of home cooking? In the marvellous list song 'Roots Music', the virtues of combining natural food ingredients into soul food are lip-smackingly extolled. Yet an album highpoint is 'Mattie Hackett' - a strident, bleak murder ballad, written and sung by Paisley, proof that Pickled Okra have versatility to match their admirable writing and instrumental prowess.
... David Innes  :: July 11, 2012


:: California Bluegrass Association
Pickled Okra rolls off the tongue and for those folks not fond of this particular vegetable, there may a moment of tasteful pondering. Regardless of your culinary leanings, this tasty CD is worth contemplating. Todd and Paisley Gray are joined by Tony Markey on banjo and their delightful old-timey look at life produced a harvest of original songs filled with bouncy rhythms, intriguing lyric juxtapositions and a sense of humor that tickled the senses. The opening song "Rainbow Dreams" is filled with images of piled laundry, wandering cats and the musings of a unemployed singer who is "home alone and wasting time. The band's mix of mandolin, banjo and bass has a bright, happy bounce that has echoes of Dixieland strums that makes you want to tap your toes and swing your feet. Tony's instrumental "Blood Moon, " features a tantalizing mandolin solo balanced by a trailing banjo. "Won't You Tell Me Darlin" is a courting song with classic song references - mountain dew, mending socks, and fixing cabins against a instrumental blend of banjo and mandolin. Another Paisley original is "Roots Music" with tributes to carrots, potatoes, turnips and beans in a stew. "My Friend Bill" salutes Bill Monroe and includes references to footprints in the snow, a horse named Molly, Uncle Pen accompanied by a hard-driving banjo. Yummy!
... BRENDA and the Review :: May 7, 2012



"Sounds Like Chicken" -- the Featured Record of the week in London!
"Our Record of the week comes from Seattle Washington: A husband and wife team. Pickled Okra's latest recording 'Sounds Like Chicken' is a unique twist on bluegrass and roots music. Along with banjo picker Tony Markey, we have Mrs. Paisley Gray on stand up bass & husband Todd Gray on mandolin. They all harmonize and share the vocals. They all write, and this record is a combined piece of, as they describe it, un-traditional oldtimey bluegrass." 
... Barry Everitt from House of Mercy Radio   :: April 7th, 2012


:: Seattle Weekly
An Old-Timey Bluegrass Jamboree
"Un-traditional bluegrass" band, steadfast buskers, and husband and wife based Pickled Okra return with their third full length release Sounds Like Chicken, a jumpy, carefree 12-song collection of original string tunes. Offset by banjo picker Tony Markey, Todd and Paisley Gray weave a bygone-era bluegrass sound through spirited harmonies, instrumentals, a murder ballad, and a little whimsy. This rootsy team plays with verve and sings with glee, and their bubbly style will have you humming right along. 
... Gwendolyn Elliott  :: Jan. 30 2011