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The Center for the Arts OnTheGo Presents Front Country

Saturday, February 2nd, 2019 8:00 PM Grass Valley Elks Lodge

109 S School St, Grass Valley

  • Seated: $22 members, 24 general public

    Standing: $18 members, $20 general public

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.

This West Coast outfit was just a group of friends playing a monthly gig until 2012 and 2013 when Front Country gathered around a single microphone at the RockyGrass and Telluride festivals, and won first prize in those prestigious band contests that once launched the careers of the Dixie Chicks, Greensky Bluegrass and the Steep Canyon Rangers. The contest wins bolstered their confidence in their unique mix of original songwriting, vocal harmonies and instrumental virtuosity, steeling their resolve to take a leap of faith and become a full time touring band. 

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. 

The band includes Melody Walker, Jacob Groopman, Adam Roszkiewicz, Leif Karlstrom and Jeremy Darrow.

“In the bluegrass world, musicians tend to define themselves by their tradition and discipline. But Front Country is defined by its no-rules approach.” – NPR Music

“Lead singer and songwriter for progressive bluegrass band Front Country, Melody Walker is an outspoken force.” – Paste

“Other Love Songs is Front Country’s Roots Pop opus, and promises to be the band’s most intensely creative and original project to date. The songs are emotional in nature and examine love with a self-aware twist.” – Live for Live Music

“Fans of modern acoustic music will find much to enjoy in their more experimental approach within the traditional bluegrass quintet.” – Bluegrass Today

“…punchy bluegrass-tinged pop…” – Live for Live Music

“With Influences ranging from Bluegrass to Classic Rock to Modern Country, Front Country refuses to conform to the genre standards” – IBMA

“One of the best up-and-coming progressive and forward-thinking bluegrass bands on the rise is Front Country” – Arizona Daily Sun

“ There are several young bands on the Americana scene today who are pushing the progressive boundaries of bluegrass style while keeping their roots in the traditional sounds they’ve harvested from around the country. Front Country is one of the best at that, and Other Love Songs makes the case for why they don’t have many equals.” – Twangville

“…irresistibly listenable and relatable.” – The Boot

“Front Country and its principals never attempted to fit into a tidy box neatly labeled ‘bluegrass.’” – The Lonesome Road Review

“This quintet has been called “passionately intoxicating” and “orchestral,” and Melody’s bluesy vocals have been described as “rafter-shaking.” – Yes Weekly

“The album is about as forward-thinking as acoustic music gets” – Nashville Scene

“They aren’t 100% sure what they’re making – they’re just focusing on making good, unique music that they want to make. Not everything has to be a cookie-cutter genre-filler” – Sonically Awkward

“What Front Country has shown with “Other Love Songs” is that it is willing to look at traditional instruments and approach them from a whole new perspective for a whole new sound” – Tahoe On Stage UK REVIEWS

“Soulful, gritty and determined, Melody Walker lives up to her name with some of her finest songs to date.” – Northern Sky Magazine UK

“To say the playing is virtuosic is an understatement! Given that their command of the instruments they play is so exceptional that it’s difficult to visualize anything in roots music that this band couldn’t master.” – American Roots UK