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Left Lane: The Farewell Drifters

Bluegrass (and more) from new generation of boomers

October 27, 2011
By RICH GIBSON , Times Leader

"We were told by our parents we could do anything we wanted," says Zach Bevill, lead vocalist and guitarist for the Nashville-based Farewell Drifters.

"Though there's an amazing freedom in that, a lot of my generation needed more direction."

Adds Joshua Britt, the band's mandolin player and backing vocalist: "We were told to 'Just Do It,' but a lot of my friends are like, 'do what exactly?' There is a lot of uncertainty about whether the lives we're leading are going to get us anywhere."

It stands to reason Britt, Bevill and the three remaining 20-something Drifters figured it out at some point.

This summer, they released "Echo Boom," a 11-song collection of original material which can't be simply classified as bluegrass. Nor should it.

"Boom" is a followup to a 2010 record "Yellow Tag Mondays" a favorably received project though sales did not indicate as much.

The new disc has received a well-deserved upgrade in exposure and rightfully so.

It's not an easy drive to Thomas, W. Va., home of the Purple Fiddle, a Mountain State treasure among intimate live venues where the Drifters are performing a Saturday evening (8:30) gig.

Next best chance to catch the boys in a nearby location will be sometime in 2012 when they'll likely make a return trip to Pittsburgh.

For now, visit the band's website and sample several You Tube videos of various performances in both live and studio settings.

According to from the new disc's liner notes, "Members of this generation are called Echo Boomers, due to the significant increase in birth rates through the 1980s and into the 1990s and because many of them are the children of baby boomers."

The CD, informs an anonymous band member, was "inspired by our parent's music, we are creating our own."

Britt and Bevill wrote or co-wrote the material that make up "Echo Boom" an impressive all-over-the-map combination of songs exploring varied subject matter.

Britt and younger brother Clayton (lead guitar/vocals) grew up in Franklin, Kentucky. They joined forces with Bevill, a native of Peoria, Ill.

The band's latter additions include Erie, Pa. bred Christian Sedelmyer (fiddle/vocals) and Dean Marold (upright bass/vocals) whose road to Music City began in his hometown of Denver.

"If somebody's going to come along and listen to our lyrics, I hope they can get something out of it," says Britt. "But if somebody just wants to come along, bob their head, drive their car and have fun, I hope there's something there for them, too."

The Lane considers the Farewell Drifters a refreshing listening experience. With 'Echo Boom' and an aggressive touring itinerary, 2012 seems destined to take this band to higher places.

"If this were just a business venture and we played music together because it was profitable, that wouldn't be nearly enough," maintains Bevill. "I need (these guys) to be close friends, and we are.DOESN'T seem all that long ago the Lane was in L.A., taking in a show at West Hollywood's historic Troubadour Club.

That night, southern California native Dave Alvin (of Blasters fame) headlined with young singer/songwriter Amy Farris opening.

Farris had just released a solo record "Anyway" which Alvin produced and contributed backing vocals and guitar.

How discouraging, then, to read Farris' recent obituary earlier this month in the on-line L.A. Times edition.

At the age of 43, Farris' body was discovered in her Los Angeles home. According to the story, a spokesman for the L.A. County coroner's office said her death is being investigated as a suicide, though an exact cause won't be determined for four-to-six weeks.

Two years ago, Alvin recruited Farris and several other female musicians to form the Guilty Women who toured together a number of months.

"One of the reasons I put the (Guilty Women) together was to showcase people like Amy who are incredibly talented but don't necessarily get the recognition they deserve," Alvin told the Times.

Farris left her home in Austin, Tx. in 2003, moving to LA where she recorded her only album with Alvin, a record featured in the Lane.

Farris studied violin and was considered a great string arranger. She also taught violin.

"A beautiful light went out - it's a horrible thing," stated Exene Cervenka, founding member of LA punk band 'X' whose new solo CD features Farris contributions on several tracks.

Alvin, by the way, is touring in support of a new solo project. He's scheduled to perform next month (Nov. 17) at Pittsburgh's Club Cafe....

Gibson may be reached at



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