The Fauxgrass Quartet played its first gig exactly a year ago.
Since then, the Grand Rapids-based bluegrass fusion outfit has crisscrossed Michigan, toured more than a dozen states and recently released its first self-titled EP, with a full-length album in the works, building a growing audience for its rootsy, genre-stewing acoustic music.
Suffice to say, band members – banjo player Joey Schultz, guitarist Adam Balcer, mandolinist Jason Wheeler and bassist Tim McKay – have successfully tapped into the burgeoning folk/bluegrass movement that’s energizing young fans across the country by giving retro-acoustic strains a modernistic flair with an injection of funk, prog-rock and more.
“We all have individual characteristics that we bring together,” said Schultz, who picked up the banjo as a kid and was immediately charmed by the instrument.
The band – which prides itself on playing old, vintage instruments – takes traditional-sounding bluegrass tunes, then tries to “mess them up” by blending different genres into the songs to create something, well, “fauxgrass.”
On Wednesday morning, Schultz, Balcer and Wheeler brought that approach into the studios of News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW) to perform the song, “Chapel Pond,” as part of my Local Spins Live segment with Dave Jaconette. View the video of that performance below, and you can hear the entire radio interview in a podcast here.
It’s clear that the band, which shares two members (Wheeler and Balcer) with the fusion/jam band Glean Infusion, thrives on live performances, which involve lots of interplay between musicians on stage. You can catch them live on Thursday night at Founders Brewing Co., 235 Grandville Ave. SW, when The Fauxgrass Quartet plays a free show with the Appleseed Collective, which takes the stage first at around 9 p.m.
Read a review of the band’s debut EP here, along with a round-up of other local CD releases. And view a video of last week’s Local Spins Live guest, Jim Shaneberger, by clicking here. (Tune in to News Talk 1340 AM at 10 a.m. next Wednesday when my guest will be Kris Hitchcock and Small Town Son.)
The Fauxgrass Quartet has a host of festival and concert appearances lined up for the next several months, including a summer show as part of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park’s Tuesday Evening Music Club series. Get more information about the band at its Facebook page or its website (where you can also hear more of its music).
A veteran journalist, John Sinkevics spent more than 13 years covering music and entertainment for The Grand Rapids Press. Now editor and publisher of the LocalSpins.com website, he comments on West Michigan's music scene and profiles local and regional artists. He hosts a "Local Spins Live" radio segment on News Talk 1340 AM in Grand Rapids at 11 a.m. Wednesdays spotlighting many of those musicians, with a preview at 9:30 a.m. Wednesdays on WLAV-FM (96.9). He also now hosts the hour-long "Local Spins on WYCE" at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE-FM (88.1)
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