One of the bands I did not get to catch at IBMA was The Farewell Drifters. I did, however, just receive a copy of their debut CD, Sweet Summer Breeze, and am now doubly sorry that I didn’t get to see them perform live.
This self-produced project features 12 new songs written within the band among the 14 tracks, primarily written by guitarist Zach Bevill and mandolinist Joshua Britt. One of the two covers, Wheels, comes from Chris Hillman and Gram Parsons, and it fits perfectly among the band originals which share much of the melodic and lyrical sensibility.
It is always a good thing to welcome new songwriters into bluegrass music, and Bevill and Britt are fine examples of why we can confidently place this music into the hands of a new generation of artists.
A fact that seems to be lost sometimes on both new and established artists is that no amount of technical proficiency and studio tanning can compensate for weak material – and that, by extension, really great material elevates any project beyond the performance itself. The Drifters’ originals are catchy and memorable, and as likely to be appropriate before a folk, bluegrass or jamgrass audience.
Making up The Farewell Drifters are Clayton Britt on lead guitar, Trevor Brandt on banjo, and Ryan Pennington on bass along with Zach Bevill and Joshua Britt.
It seems fair to expect that these talented young men will only reach higher and achieve at a loftier level given the chance to continue performing and recording together. Kudos, fellas… this is a good’n.