Front Country, Growler
Doors open at 7 pm.
FRONT COUNTRY: An acoustic band born in the land of tech innovation, Front Country was never going to be accepted as an authentic American roots band out of the gate. Cutting their teeth in progressive bluegrass jams in San Francisco’s Mission District and rehearsing in the East Bay, they learned to play roots music their own way, with the tools they had on hand. A mandolinist with a degree in composition and classical guitar. A guitarist trained in rock and world music. A bassist equally versed in jazz and bluegrass. A violinist with technique that could seamlessly hop between honky tonk and electropop. A female lead singer with grit and soul that was also a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. In a wood-paneled country dive bar in the shadow of the San Francisco skyline, Front Country forged a sound hell bent on merging the musical past with the future.
With the release of their debut full-length album Sake of the Sound in 2014, Front Country began the nose-grinding work of making their name as a national touring act. Still based in the San Francisco Bay Area, they would trek the 6,000+ mile circle around the U.S. for months at a time, introducing themselves for the first time to every room that would have them. Thanks to the glow of their contest wins, festivals around the U.S. caught wind and invited them to play for their large audiences, giving Front Country a crucial first break. Old Settlers in Austin, MerleFest in North Carolina, Wintergrass in Seattle, Strawberry in California and Grey Fox in New York, all took a chance on the promising new band and solidified Front Country’s hold on the imagination of progressive-leaning acoustic music fans.
If there was any one song from their debut album that they all agreed they had never heard the likes of before, it would have to be the title track “Sake of the Sound”. A pop song with a rock arrangement, played entirely on acoustic instruments. It was almost as if bluegrass instruments had been unearthed 200 years from now in a time capsule, and were re-purposed to make post-apocalyptic modern pop music. Front Country has been drawn more and more into this peculiar aesthetic, writing and arranging songs that are simultaneously intricate, intense and infectious. They've been called “Roots Pop”: the past is discernible with a wink and a nod, and the future is here.
The collection of original Other Love Songs on the album are “If Something Breaks”, “I Don’t Wanna Die Angry”, “Good Side”, “Undone”, “O Heartbreaker” and “Keep Travelin’”. These songs follow the lessons that everyone learns in their own personal evolution toward emotional maturity and vulnerability - in which all of us learn to break down toxic romantic fairy tales and write our own “Other Love Songs” that work for real people in the real world. Love works the best when we can accept ourselves and one another with all of our virtues and our flaws, and start creating our own unique path that works for us. Since music and love are borne of the same ether, it’s no surprise that Front Country’s musical path has taken the form of an “Other Love Song” all along, finding their own harmony that plays to the strengths of each member, and doesn’t worry about fitting into a mold. http://www.frontcountryband.com/about/
GROWLER: Formed in early 2015 with a lineup of both esteemed veteran pickers and hotshot newcomers, Growler is bringing a welcome vitality to the growing Chicago bluegrass scene. The band comprises current and former members of regional mainstays like The Leadfoot Band, DOG 1, and Sunnyside Up and its members bring to the table over a decade of collective experience playing and recording mountain music the old-fashioned way. As dead-on and high-lonesome as these boys are, however, traditional bluegrass is not a final destination for a group like Growler. With influences that span from pulsing Chicago blues to gritty southern rock, from elegant gypsy jazz to old school gospel and soul, and more, the band uses their bluegrass prowess as a jumping-off point for finding a sound that is theirs alone.
And Growler has wasted no time getting this sound in front of an audience. Having cultivated a sizable repertoire of lovingly re-imagined standards and exploratory originals, the group is already packing houses and wowing crowds at clubs and festivals throughout the Midwest. They have shared the stage with national touring acts such as Hot Buttered Rum, The Hillbenders, Old Salt Union, Trout Steak Revival, The Lil’ Smokies and in 2017 are only continuing to pick up speed on the regional scene.
You wanted bluegrass in the City of Big Shoulders? Look no further--Growler is Chicago’s answer to a young generation of talented pickers seeking a new identity, and with thick four-part harmony, lush instrumental arrangements, and a deep, impeccable groove, how can you deny them?