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IBMA Preview

I’m writing this morning from my dad’s house in Carrboro, NC. Front Country’s fall tour is charging on. Since I last wrote here, we spent two days recording in Oakland, played a bunch of shows in Washington, Oregon and California, then flew east for gigs in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia, including a really special one at Bluegrass Underground. I hope we’ll be back to do that again sooner rather than later. This has been a great tour, the band is playing at a very high level and I feel excited about every show. I’m particularly excited about what’s to come musically and professionally.

Today, the annual business conference for the International Bluegrass Music Association begins in nearby Raleigh. The band has been selected as an official showcase artist, which means that we’ll be playing a lot this week publicly and privately. Showcasing can be a little strange, it’s kind of like an audition. You’re not necessarily playing for fans, so much as you’re playing for talent buyers, DJ’s, promoters, etc. in the hopes of getting good festival bookings, airplay and generating some awareness of what you’re doing. Sometimes there are also fans in the audience, but not always. The result is that the energy you feel from the crowd is very different from what you might find at a club or festival date. If you’ve never showcased or taken an audition; the feeling is not unfriendly, but kind of clinical. You’re trying to do something that feels natural and spontaneous in an environment that is anything but. Nonetheless, you have to deliver as if you’re playing a regular gig. It’s weird and surreal, but fun. Conferences like this also provide a chance to catch up with friends who might only see in passing on the road, or not see at all. That alone can make it worth the trip.

 

If you’re attending IBMA and would like catch one of our sets, you can find our schedule and some great videos from our concert at Bluegrass Underground, here.

 

Thanks for reading, hope to see you in Raleigh!

JD

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Changes

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, but there’s been a lot going on! I took some time off from Detour over the spring and summer for two tours with bay-area progressive acoustic band Front Country. Over the course of ten weeks on the road we played dozens of shows all across the country, including Merlefest and Grey Fox, both major festivals. It was one of the most musically rewarding and personally gratifying experiences I’ve been lucky enough to have and I’m happy to share that as I write this I’m flying to the west coast to start fall tour as the newest member of Front Country. More on that in a moment.

It’s not an easy decision to leave one job you really like, no matter how appealing a prospective new job might be. Feelings of loyalty and uncertainty can raise serious questions in your mind, even when the change is clearly the right choice. It’s made more difficult when that job is in a band. By necessity, you become closer with fellow band mates than with office mates. Bands spend countless hours together rehearsing, performing and traveling. During the course of all this, you regularly leave yourself exposed to one another in ways that office mates almost never do. For better or worse, band mates almost always develop strong feelings about one another. That makes the choice to move an especially hard one.

For a number reasons it was clear that joining Front Country was the right choice for me; but it was not an easy choice or one I made hastily. I am extremely grateful for my time with Detour. We made a great and successful record together, were nominated for an IBMA award, played good music all over the country and we became great friends. It has been an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’m particularly thankful to Detour’s bandleader, Jeff Rose, for the characteristic grace he showed when I called to tell him that the time had come for me to move on and during my final performances with the band. We parted on the best of terms and I know that they’ll continue to enjoy great success.

Having made the decision, I’m thrilled to be playing with Front Country. Playing with this new band doesn’t just mean a change of musical style, though it certainly means that. It also means an exciting change of trajectory. There are many great things on the horizon, as we start fall tour and finish recording our upcoming EP I’ll have lots more to share. Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading.

JD