Front Country pushing the boundaries of conventional Bluegrass

By Matt Wickstrom

After successfully crowdfunding their debut album, 2014’s “Sake of the Sound”, San Francisco area quintet Front Country is back at it again, recently opening up a Kickstarter for a second album, which they’re already laid down the tracks for in studio.

The campaign, which closes at 3pm ET on August 11, is currently nearing halfway of it’s 25k fundraising goal. Backers of Front Country’s project will receive anything from advanced copies of the record (in December) to merch to a private in-house concert and much more, all depending on how generously one wishes to give.

Front Country’s sophomore effort will be a collection of 13 songs – eight new originals by spunky singer-songwriter Melody Walker and three instrumentals from mandolinist Adam Roszkiewicz. A traditional tune and cover song round out the record. Front Country’s three remaining pieces – Jacob Groopman on guitar, Leif Karlstrom on violin, and Jeremy Darrow on bass mesh seamlessly with Walker’s powerful vocals and Roszkiewicz’s fiery mandolin for a sound that floats somewhere in the realm between country, pop, and old-time bluegrass.

The group enlisted the expertise of Wes Corbett to produce the record and offer a fresh perspective for Front Country’s west coast vibe. Corbett previously founded and wielded the banjo for Boston area bluegrass band Joy Kills Sorrow, which once too featured Jacob Jolliff before he and his award-winning mandolin skills departed for Yonder Mountain String Band.

Aside from their forthcoming album, Front Country also recently recorded and released their “MIXTAPES” EP, featuring five distinctively different cover tunes, ranging from Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” to King Crimson’s “Three of a Perfect Pair”, all in their own signature style.

“We wanted to do something to bridge the gap between two full length records, so we decided to put out an EP of five cover songs, which we called “MIXTAPES” because they’re all different songs, but we feel they represent different sides of who we are as a band and our collective sound”, said Groopman.

The group will finish their summer tour in the coming weeks, travelling across the pond for several gigs in the UK and France. For updates on Front Country stay tuned to the band’s social feeds, Kickstarter, and official web site. The group will be announcing fall tour dates next week, with trips planned to Owensboro and Louisville in September according to Groopman.

“Music has taught me a lot about determination and a will to improve not only as a musician but as a person”, said Groopman. “You’re always working at the craft of becoming a better musician, being a good player. You can use the same mindset for growing as a person… I’ve found that the most loving, down-to-earth people in my life were brought into it through music.”

UPDATE: With 5 days remaining until their fundraising deadline, Front Country’s Kickstarter is just $3,000 away from it’s  goal of $25,000 raised after an enormous surge in recent days. Donate today!  

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