Grant Farm brings cosmic Americana spirit to Summit County
Grant Farm has been on lineups all over the state of Colorado at festivals, in bars and packing various venues. The Boulder-based band, consisting of Tyler Grant (vocals and guitar), Adrian Engfer (bass and vocals), Sean Macaulay (drums) and Kevin McHugh (keyboards), blends a unique combination of traditional folk, country and bluegrass with bits of psychedelic rock thrown in. Grant Farm will play this Sunday night at the Historic Brown Hotel in Breckenridge — the band’s first performance at the venue. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Tyler, answered a few questions about the band before the show.
Summit Daily News: How did the band come together?
Tyler Grant: As a side project of the Emmitt-Nershi Band. In the beginning, around 2009 when I moved to Colorado, it was just me and Andy Thorn — who is now a huge star with Leftover Salmon. It evolved into a bluegrass band, then evolved further into the cosmic Americana, rock and roll jam band that it is today.
SDN: How did you come up with the name Grant Farm? I am assuming it has something to do with your last name?
TG: It rhymes with “Ant Farm,” get it? Since I was the only constant and I knew I would likely go through a rotation of band members I wanted to associate the band name with my name, and I hate it when bands are called “The So-And-So Band” so I thought this was a clever alternative. Now we are a full collective and our sound has as much to do with Adrian, Sean and Kevin as it does with me.
SDN: What have been some of the highlights so far in terms of where you’ve performed, who you’ve shared the stage with and your acclaim?
TG: Our tenure at WinterWonderGrass Festival is at the top of the list for sure. Between Grant Farm and my solo and freelance acoustic performances I am the only artist that has performed at every single WWG, both in Colorado and California. I’m extremely grateful for that. Our Meeting on the Mountain live broadcast series has been a great opportunity to collaborate with heroes such as Bill Nershi, String Cheese Incident; Todd Sheaffer, Railroad Earth; Andy Hall, Infamous Stringdusters; Dave Bruzza, Greensky Bluegrass; and many other luminaries. The original Meeting on the Mountain EP, which spawned the live broadcast concept, was an inspired collaboration with Fruition, and that recording session will always be a highlight of our career.
SDN: What are some of the themes of your songs and albums?
TG: Our latest album, “Kiss The Ground,” is a concept album that discusses the struggles of the working people in the modern world where we are not for want of food, shelter and the basics of survival, but we have to work way too much to buy in to the system. Most of us are overworked, underpaid and subject to this system of capitalism that forces us to focus too much effort on earning a living and minimizes our ability to live as humans are meant to live. “Kiss The Ground” addresses that struggle directly with songs like “Get In Line,” “Fill Your Cup” and “I Wish That It Would Rain.”
SDN: Define your unique sound. What genre, if any, do you fall under?
TG: Lately we have been using the “Cosmic Americana” tag. We are unique in that we have creative, original songs with deep themes and we also draw from traditional folk, country and bluegrass references, and put it all together with a sound that is pretty rocking, driven by both instrumentalism and vocals, with tinges of psychedelia and twang.
SDN: Are there any interesting or funny stories from the road you’d be willing to share?
TG: There was the time that Adrian was convinced that the Boogey Man was in the closet of the hotel in Atlanta and he wouldn’t go into the room. We had to lure him in with milk and cookies and Sean held his hand until he stopped freaking out. We sure had some explaining to do to the front desk after Adrian called to complain. And then there was the time that a bat stowed away in our van. Kevin would go out and collect worms when we would stop at rest areas to feed it. He grew so attached to this bat he named it “Squeakers” and would let it sleep with him. Eventually the van smelled so bad we had to force Kevin to set the bat free. We stopped at Valley View Hot Springs, where the old Orient Mine is located, and had a little ritual to introduce Squeakers to the bats who live in the mine shaft. It was so sad. Kevin cried when Squeakers finally flew off to join the colony. He had grown too fat to fly properly from the diet of worms. I sure hope he survived.
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