Indie-grass band Front Country plays North Star Theater

Their motto, “Don’t ask Front Country what kind of music they play. Just listen.”

The melodic, free-spirited sounds of the indie-grass band Front Country filled the Cordova Center’s North Star Theater on Saturday. The band with the San Francisco Bay roots arrived in town a little over a week ago to pitch in as guest artists and faculty, teaching during Cordova 4-H Bluegrass and Old Time Music Camp.

Front Country, winners of the 2013 Telluride Band Competition and the 2012 RockyGrass Band Competition, fuses roots of bluegrass with soulful indie music, combined with expressive lyrics written by musician, songwriter and lead singer Melody Walker. Guitarist Jacob Groopman, mandolinist Adam Roszkiewicz, and bassist Jeremy Darrow, round out the powerful sound of Front Country.

Walker started off the concert by chatting up the crowd, warming up the audience with her bright smile and quirky sense of humor. Soon Groopman joined her, and both spoke highly of their time in Cordova and friends they made while instructing at music camp.

“We had a great time teaching this week,” Groopman said.

“And I think I know everyone here at the concert, we’re all friends,” Walker told the audience. “I’ve been with you every day.”

The musicians said they had an incredible time passing on the love of music to Cordova’s kids, eating a whole lot of salmon and enjoying a little time off from tour.

Front Country’s website describes the band as passionately intoxicating and orchestral, and Walker’s bluesy vocals are said to be rafter-shaking.

The band put its talents to the test in front of approximately 200 of the town’s music lovers, as the musicians played several covers, including, “Boys of Summer,” and “Kissin’ Comes Easy,” from its recently released album, “Mixtape.” They also performed, “Gospel Train,” and many other crowd-pleasers, in addition to the group’s original music.

“It is truly amazing how they shifted playing various instruments throughout the concert, going from mandolin to guitar, and back again,” said Cordova resident Ron Andersen, who said he grew up listening to classical and religious music.

Music is a lifelong passion of Andersen’s and he often travels to various parts of the world just to attend concerts and operas.

Andersen said he found Front Country to be more contemporary-style music rather than traditional bluegrass.

“The musicians harmonized beautifully,” Andersen said. “I thought Walker’s singing was really very good and the bass player was also quite good.”

“A lot of the music was written by them,” Andersen said. “There were a couple of places in some of the songs where the musicians’ fingers were just flying. I was impressed.”

Andersen said he wasn’t the only one enjoying the performance.

“It was obvious by the clapping that the audience loved it,” he said. “It was well-worth the price of the ticket. We’re fortunate to have these types of concerts in Cordova. I’d like to see more musical performances taking place here, now that we have the facilities for it.”

Front Country’s last night in Cordova was capped off by a salmon feast and a midnight seine boat ride on Prince William Sound. Early Sunday morning, the musicians boarded the ferry to Whittier, and then on to Anchorage, where they would spend a few days of downtime before continuing their tour in France.

For more information on Front Country, visit
http://www.frontcountryband.com.

The band has a Kickstarter campaign for its second full-length album at
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/frontcountry/front-countrys-second-full-length-album

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Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson is a staff writer and photographer for The Cordova Times. She has been writing in one form or another for 30-plus years and has had a longstanding relationship with The Cordova Times starting in 1989. She's been an Alaskan since 1976 and first moved to Cordova in 1978. She's lived in various West Texas towns; in Denver, Colorado; in McGrath, Cordova, Galena, Kodiak, Wasilla, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska and in Bangalore, India. She has two children and three grandchildren. She can be reached at cgibbens-stimson@thecordovatimes.com or follow her on Instagram @alaskatoindia.