Michigan’s Fauxgrass stops at The Motherloaded tonight
Call them “progressive bluegrass” if you like, but the genre-spanning string band is wary of applying the label to their own sound, lest they insult those who are truly pushing the genre, Tim McKay (bass, vocals) told Michigan’s Northern Express. Hence the name Fauxgrass – a much more playful way to describe the boundary-pushing musical journey group members have undertaken since the band formed in 2011. Still, Fauxgrass’ band members are no newcomers to the bluegrass scene. Joey Schultz (banjo, vocals) studied under banjo legend Bill Keith, and after more than a decade of mandolin and music study, Jason Wheeler (mandolin, vocals) currently studies under jazz mandolin master Don Julin as well as Don Stiernberg. “We listen to a lot of Don’s music on the road and try to figure out what he’s doing,” Wheeler commented.McKay started playing electric bass in 1989, initially to pursue a love for rock and metal, and the self-taught Adam Balcer (guitar, vocals) blends bluegrass, jazz and rock guitar styles and has shared the stage with mentors including Karl Denson, Papadosio and Hal Ketchum.A growing presence in the Michigan music scene, Fauxgrass is currently in the midst of a winter tour, including tonight’s stop at the Motherloaded Tavern in Breckenridge. “The tour is going great,” Wheeler said. “We’ve performed in sold-out theaters, breweries, house concerts and corporate events since mid-January and we’ve got about 20 shows still ahead of us. We’re healthy; we’re safe and enjoying each other’s company. We’re doing what we love to do and improving as musicians every day.” The band is inspired by “the universe, the earth, all types of sincere music, conversations, chance encounters, true friends, family and the crowd’s interaction at a show,” Wheeler said. “I’m inspired by the sense of generosity, compassion, community and creativity we witness on the road. We’re inspired by our teachers and our ancestors (musically speaking), the mountains, The Great Lakes, the snow.” Those elements and the group’s diverse background including rock, jazz, classical and 90s punk reflects in the band’s sound, expanding the boundaries of traditional bluegrass. “Our shows feature traditional music, bluegrass tunes, original compositions, fiddle tunes and a few outside-the-box pieces for fun,” said Wheeler. The group has high expectations for tonight’s concert. “We’re gonna bring it,” Wheeler said. “We plan on playing our hearts out. It’s our first night in Colorado, and we absolutely love your beautiful state so we’ll be celebrating with original music, some fiddle tunes, some bluegrass tunes and a whole bunch of Michigan music.”
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