Fairview Avenue

Oddly enough, summer is the slow season for bluegrass news each year. All the bands are touring like crazy, but unless someone jumps ship, there isn’t as much new information to share.

So we plan to use this next little while to try and get caught up on all the new CDs that have come over the transom since the hot weather hit. And so we begin…

Fairview Avenue is new young band from New York state who write and record original music written within the group. They consist of Tony Califano on mandolin, Liz Hopkins on bass, Scott Hopkins on banjo and Morrie Safford on guitar. All four sing, write and help arrange the music.

Their debut, self-titled CD features 12 tracks, 7 written by Califano, Hopkins and Safford. Their style is contemporary and varied, as is deftly described by Pete Wernick in his liner notes:

“Fairview Avenue hails from the not-famous-for-bluegrass hub of Albany, NY. Yet they’re clearly steeped in bluegrass music and related folk and country forms, and achieve a high level of self-expression through these stylistic channels.

They blend these flavors deftly into their bluegrass so that the listener experiences a varied landscape of moods and musical feelings. A steady sprinkling of well-executed vocal harmony and instrumental surprises leads us to expect the unexpected, a welcome and uncommon treat in the sometimes sound-alike world of new bluegrass bands. In less experienced hands, the variety might jolt the listener or sound forced or dubious. But these folks know how to make it work as an honest expression of who they are. No masquerade here. When they sing, you know where they’re from, and yes, the train they sing about runs in the Hudson Valley, not the Shenandoah.”

How ’bout a taste of their sound? Here’s one written and sung by Tony Califano.

Hudson Valley Train:  [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/hudson_valley_train.mp3]

And a hot banjo tune from Scott Hopkins.

Plankton:  [http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegrasscast/plankton.mp3]

It’s safe to say that these folks are serious about their music, but not so much so that they can’t display a sense of humor about it all. See what I mean in this clip of them covering The Beatles’ Helter Skelter.

You can hear more audio samples from Fairview Avenue at CD Baby, and on the band’s web site.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.