California-based progressive bluegrass group Front Country has a new connection to Eugene. “Our fiddle player [Leif Karlstrom] just moved up here,” guitarist Jacob Groopman tells EW. “I always like coming to Eugene. It’s a nice town.”
Front Country is touring in support of 2014’s Sake of the Sound. The record features mandolin, fiddle and the hymnal quality of vocalist Melody Walker. The resulting sound recalls the chamber folk and bluegrass of Chris Thile and Punch Brothers.
Groopman says members of Front Country came to bluegrass music relatively late in life. “We’ve known each other for awhile,” he explains, but “none of us grew up playing bluegrass.” Each musician brings a different musical background to the table. “Some classical, some jazz, some world music,” Groopman says.
“We really like arranging songs together,” Groopman continues. “It’s interesting to see what different backgrounds can bring when arranging a song — having an original tune that’s just kind of chords and a melody — how we work together to make something that’s really unique sounding.”
Front Country’s sound is bluegrass, but Groopman admits lately that the music has evolved. “We’ve been moving farther and farther away,” Groopman admits. “It is acoustic instruments, and we do find ourselves in that world a lot,” he says. “It’s not straight-ahead bluegrass at all.”
Front Country plays with San Diego’s Nathan Fox 9:30 pm Saturday, Sept. 19, at Sam Bond’s; $7. 21-plus.