About Kristen Grainger & True North

True North is:

Kristen Grainger


Dan Wetzel

Guitar, Resonator Guitar, Mandolin, Octave Mandolin, Banjo, Mandola, Ukulele, Vocals

Martin Stevens

Mandolin, Fiddle, Octave Mandolin, Vocals

Josh Adkins

Upright Bass, Vocals

“True North play tunes so smooth they bring to mind bluegrass-pop artists like Alison Krauss and Union Station, as well as old country legends like Hank Williams, Sr.”
Kim Ruehl
West Coast Performer, No Depression

Americana String Band

 Venues, promoters, talent buyers: please go to our Electronic Press Kits for the band or duo

GRAINGER & TRUE NORTH is a bluegrass-leaning Americana powerhouse of terrific songwriting, lush vocals and crazy-good instrumentalists. 

Fronted by singer-songwriter Kristen Grainger, the band is comprised of multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Dan Wetzel and Pacific Northwest bluegrass superstars Martin Stevens (mandolin, octave mandolin, fiddle, vocals) and Josh Adkins (upright bass, vocals), both formerly of the Bluegrass Regulators.

Kristen is making a name for herself as a crafter of great songs, taking first place in the 2020 USA Songwriting Competition (folk), and landing a 2022 songwriter showcase at SXSW. She was named, along with Brandi Carlile and Dolly Parton, one of the “Women Who Wrote Our 2020 Soundtrack” by The Bluegrass Situation.

Kristen has collected accolades and awards at Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Wildflower Arts & Music Festival, Merlefest, Kerrville and, together with Dan Wetzel, at Wintergrass . She also won Common Ground‘s 2022 Acoustic Roots Songwriting Contest, and 2019 Roots Northwest songwriting competition.

The band’s newest project, Fear Of Falling Stars has climbed the charts steadily since its release in November of 2023 and is critically acclaimed. 

Ghost Tattoo (2020), was the band’s third album to go to #1 on folk radio, and made Folk Alley’s Listener’s Choice: Top Albums of 2020 and earned excellent reviews.   (See Press ) The album also featured a #1 single “Keep The River On Your Right” with which Kristen won the USA Songwriting Contest. 

Their 2018 release, Open Road, Broken Heart, debuted at #1 on the folk DJ charts for national radio airplay and stayed in the Roots Music Report’s top 25 all year. Their 2014 release, Elsebound, spent 25 weeks in the top 10 and was the 7th most-aired folk album of 2015.

On stage, the band deftly delivers the stories, mind-blowing harmonies and mad instrumentals audiences love. As Folk World (UK) put it, “What comes over loud and clear is that one is in the presence of some seriously talented musicians.


Honors & Awards

A songwriter whose star continues to rise, Kristen was named, alongside Brandi Carlile and Dolly Parton, one of the Women Who Wrote Our 2020 Soundtrack by The Bluegrass Situation 

Winner, 2022 Acoustic Roots Songwriting Contest
Common Ground on the Hill
Westminster, MD 
Ghost of Abuelito (K. Grainger)

Featured Song: Hope Rises II compilation album
showcasing excellence in social change songwriting
Music to Life, founded by N. Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul & Mary)
Wilder, VT
Ghost of Abuelito (K.Grainger)

Winner, 2020 USA Songwriting Competition (folk)
2nd Overall Grand Prize, 2020 USA Songwriting Competition
Keep the River on Your Right (K. Grainger)

Winner, 2019 Local Roots NW Songwriting Contest
Portland, OR:
Dark Horse Bar & Grill (K. Grainger)

Winner, 2018 Wildflower Arts & Music Festival Performing Songwriter Contest
Richardson, Texas:
One-Way Ticket (K. Grainger)
Ratio of Angels to Demons (K. Grainger)

Film soundtrack
The Danish Boy, 2018:
Birds Like Me (K. Grainger)

2015 MerleFest
Songwriting competition (2nd place/folk):
Doris Dean (K. Grainger)

2015 IMEA Folk Song of the Year:
Be Here Now (K. Grainger)

Finalist, 2014 Telluride Bluegrass Festival songwriting contest:
Doris Dean (K. Grainger)

Winner, 2010 Wintergrass song contest:
Hard Place to Suffer and That Really Gets Me Down (K. Grainger, D. Wetzel)

Finalist, 2008 Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk songwriting contest:
Limbo (D. Wetzel/K. Grainger)
Doris Dean (K. Grainger)

Kristen Grainger

Kristen Grainger, (vocals) is the voice of True North and the primary architect of the band’s songwriting.  She was named by The Bluegrass Situation as one of the “Women Who Wrote Our 2020 Soundtrack,” alongside Dolly Parton and Brandi Carlile.

In 2020, Kristen also took first place in the USA Songwriting Competition in the folk category, second place overall, and her songs have won or been finalists at the nation’s most prestigious festival songwriting competitions such as Wildflower (TX), Telluride Bluegrass Festival (CO), Merlefest (NC), Kerrville Folk Festival (TX), IMEA (GA), and DC Bluegrass Union’s Hazel Dickens songwriting competition. 

In recognition that women are underrepresented across all aspects of the music industry, Kristen co-founded She’s Speaking with two other Oregon songwriters, a project devoted to amplifying women’s voices and artistry so it can be heard by all people.

In addition to songwriting, recording, and performing, she has served as vice president of Willamette University and written speeches for two Oregon governors, three university presidents and an Oregon attorney general.  

Dan Wetzel

Dan Wetzel, (guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, ukulele, mountain banjo, vocals) provides direction and leadership for True North. He has earned considerable recognition as a singer-songwriter, having toured nationally as a solo artist after winning a national songwriting contest. His superb instrumental skills — guitar, both flat-pick and finger-style, and mandolin — give True North’s songs their driving groove. 

When not on stage, Dan is spending time designing and building instruments that he and others play on stage. 

Martin Stevens

Martin Stevens (mandolin, fiddle, octave mandolin, vocals) grew up in the Old Time Fiddlers contest community, winning several state and regional championships during his childhood. Martin’s first two bluegrass groups, Athena and the River City Boys and Molly Adkins and Martin Stevens, performed for several years at bluegrass festivals in the Pacific Northwest. Martin was one of the founders of the Bluegrass Regulators, who have gone on to release two albums and have performed all over the country, most notably as one of the IBMA showcase artists in 2011. Off stage, Martin is pursuing his PhD in Education.

Josh Adkins

Josh Adkins (upright bass, vocals) cut his teeth with northwest-based group The Bluegrass Regulators. With a solid groove and an attentive approach, he often finds the missing piece to showcase an arrangement.