Monday, 23 November 2015

Front Country's UK Tour Comes To A Close
It has been an autumn of pleasant music surprises so far including two involving King Crimson! King Crimson? I hear you say. Yes - I know this is the European BLUEGRASS Music Association Blog but I shall explain more later.

On Sunday evening (22nd November) we ventured out into The Fens to see Front Country at the South Holland Centre in Spalding for the last concert of their UK tour. Just a word about the South Holland Centre: this is a wonderful venue - large enough to accomodate a good-sized crowd but small enough to feel that you are at an intimate concert. We shall be returning in April for The Railsplitters* but intend to return sooner than that!

But what about the concert? As previously reported in the EBMA blog article in August, Front Country had been in the UK since early November and we had been hungrily reading the reports and watching YouTube clips from the tour; particularly as we had missed seeing Front Country play at MerleFest in North Carolina - don't ask, a long and dismal tale - so having the opportunity to see them play in the UK was exciting. One of the clips from the tour which was viewed prior to Sunday (and heard played live on Sunday) was 'You Can't Blame The 80's' by Adam Roszkiewicz (mandolin) and Leif Karlstrom (fiddle) who also perform as the duo 'Small Town Therapy'.

In addition to this, the concert naturally drew from Front Country's most recent recording 'Sake of the Sound' but also included material from Melody Walker's 'Gold Rush Goddess' including the un-plugged finale of 'Family Band'. Despite having previously played 15 dates with just two days rest, the band were fresh as they took the stage and immediately had the audience in the palms of their hands.

The power and versatility of  Melody Walker's voice is exceptional as witnessed from her singing of  'One Kind Word' and 'Colorado' to the powerful rendition of 'Gospel Train' which closed the first half of the concert. (Please note that I did not say 'Larry Sparks' 'Gospel Train'' because Front Country have made that song their own, in my opinion). But there is more to Front Country than the spine-tingling vocals of Melody Walker; Adam Roszkiewicz (mandolin & banjo) & Leif Karlstrom (fiddle) have already been mentioned and along with Jacob Groopman (guitar & banjo) and Jeremy Darrow (bass), this is a band of fine musicians.

During the second half of the concert, we were told that the band are working on their follow-up to 'Sake of the Sound' but would also be releasing an EP of cover versions in the near future. At this point I smugly thought I knew what would be coming next. Prior to their appearance at MerleFest, Front Country had released a video of them singing Don Henley's 'Boys of Summer' and, more recently, close to Halloween, had released a video of them singing Talking Heads' 'Psycho Killer' will be one of those, I confidently told myself. I was looking forward to seeing the looks on the faces of the audience as either song began only to find that the look of astonishment was on my face as they broke into King Crimson's 'Three of a Perfect Pair'** and - as our Transatlantic cousins would say - killed it! But here is their version of 'Boys of Summer'.

It is rumoured that Front Country will be returning to the UK next Autumn and I hope that this is the case. If you saw them, then I am sure that you will look forward to seeing them again and if you missed them this time, make sure you catch them on their next visit. You can be kept advised of Front Country news by signing up to their mailing list on their website. I know from speaking to Melody after Sunday's concert that many of those attending the UK concerts had added their names to the mailing list, but I would strongly recommend adding yourself to the mailing list on-line as quickly as possible to make sure that you don't miss a thing and be granted immediate access to some exclusive tracks by the band.
Note: I found that the signing up system did not recognise UK postcodes but this could be overcome.

*More information, along with UK Spring Tour dates for The Railsplitters can be found on the Brookfield-Knights website.

**I mentioned two King Crimson-related surprises this Autumn, the other was being invited to King Crimson's pre-tour concert but a friend who had recorded with Robert Fripp in the 60's.