The ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies community is mourning another staff member and graduate with the loss of Aaron “Frosty” Foster, 28, who passed away at his home in Elizabethon, TN, on February 10, 2021.
Foster, a native of Wells Bridge, NY, had made eastern Tennessee his home for the past decade as he pursued a degree at East Tennessee State University and later, a career in bluegrass music. Although he didn’t originally pursue the university’s bluegrass coursework, a few elective classes and an eager welcome into local and student jams and performances led to a change in majors and career paths. Foster eventually spent two years with the university’s top bluegrass student band, the Bluegrass Pride Band, and received his bachelor’s degree in 2017.
Growing up in New York, his early exposure to bluegrass music was through attending bluegrass festivals in and around New England with his grandparents. His grandparents’ love of bluegrass music also led to a friendship with Eric Gibson of the The Gibson Brothers, who helped Foster find and purchase his first guitar, and later appeared on several of Foster’s solo recordings.
Most recently, Foster was employed by ETSU’s Department of Appalachian Studies as Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator, and was actively performing and recording with several bluegrass groups. He was a regular performer at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, played lead guitar for the Amanda Cook Band, and had recently signed with Mountain Fever Records as part of Boone & Foster, a duo effort with friend and frequent collaborator Troy Boone. Boone & Foster’s debut single, County Fool, hit #6 on the Bluegrass Today Weekly Airplay chart just this past week.
Foster will be remembered not just for his musical success, which also included several other charting singles, both with the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band and as a solo artist, but also for his genuine love of everything bluegrass-related. There are few people out there as truly enthusiastic about just simply getting to play bluegrass as was Foster. He never turned down an opportunity in the bluegrass world, whether it was for a packed festival stage or jamming with a few friends. His constant smile and infectious energy will be missed by all who knew him.
Rest in peace, Frosty.