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Deep thoughts Farewell Drifters reflect on generation's pressures, expectations

January 17th, 2012 3:55 am by Staff Report

Deep thoughts Farewell Drifters reflect on generation's pressures, expectations

The Farewell Drifters will showcase material from their third album, 'Echo Boom,' when they perform Wednesday at the Down Home in Johnson City. Show time is 8 p.m.

  The Farewell Drifters have been doing some reflecting lately, as evidenced by the title of their third album, “Echo Boom.”

   On it, the band’s members consider the pressures and expectations placed on their generation by the previous one, and the ramifications of some of the vague self-actualization advice passed on by the boomers to their latchkey kids.

   “We were told by our parents that we could do anything we wanted, and though there’s an amazing freedom in that, a lot of my generation needed more direction,” says singer and guitar player Zach Bevill.

   “We were told to ‘Just Do It,’ but a lot of my friends are like, do what exactly?” adds Joshua Britt, who handles mandolin and vocals for the band. “There is a lot of uncertainty about whether the lives we’re leading are going to get us anywhere.”

   That sentiment is expressed in “Punchline,” the lead track from “Echo Boom.” Britt, who wrote the song, juxtaposes earnest seriousness (“I don’t know what it is that fills my head with doubt/I just wanna shine the light that’s trying to get out/But it takes so long/And it’s always a process/And I can’t find the patience”) with the idea that life for his generation often seems like some cosmic joke, and that success is akin to successfully delivering a punchline.

   The chorus ends with the plea to “Let me deliver, let me deliver.”

   Fans can hear the Drifters live when they perform Wednesday, Jan. 18 at the Down Home in Johnson City. Show time is 8 p.m.

   Tickets are $10 at the door.

   In “Tip Of The Iceberg,” Bevill writes about being both in the public while keeping oneself hidden (“You hear me sing/you don’t see me bleed”) and the semi-unconscious emotional remoteness that is pervasive in his generation (“I’ll tell you the story that we all belong/I’ll let you in if you won’t stay long”).

   Many of this generation find connection through virtual community, which leads to an increasing inability to find substance in relationship.

   “Facebook and Twitter and mediums like that have their place and they’re fun, but it’s not a place where friends can tell real truths and find real depth,” says Bevill. “You can’t find true hope and encouragement there.” That idea is expressed again in “You Were There.” This very personal song was co-written by Britt and Bevill about the band’s relationship with one another. There is a recognition that sometimes what you need most is a good friend, and that even spiritual pursuits can be misguided: the lines “So I turned to someone else/Someone I couldn’t see/To guide everything and bring it all to me/But that’s too easy/It’s much too easy/It didn’t work that way,” are followed by the chorus, “You were there everyday/And it gives me the faith to say/That I need you.” The road isn’t easy, but for the band, spirit can be found in brotherhood and community.

   Britt’s younger brother Clayton (lead guitar/vocals) was the family musical virtuoso and learned about Clarence White (Byrds, Kentucky Colonels) from his older brother. Though the two grew up in Franklin, Ky., in the heart of bluegrass country, they were originally drawn more to rock music. Joshua Britt’s first band, Haven, was part of the Bowling Green underground rock scene that spawned Cage The Elephant. The brothers formed The Farewell Drifters in 2007 with Bevill, who hails from Peoria, Ill.. He begged his parents for piano lessons at age 6 and has been deeply immersed in music ever since.

   The two most recent additions to the band are Christian Sedelmyer (fiddle/vocals) and Dean Marold (upright bass/vocals), both of whom joined the band in time to record 2010’s “Yellow Tag Mondays” album.

   Being part of this “echo boom” generation, their influences are shaped, sometimes unconsciously, by music far from the roots music they’re associated with.

   “Someone pointed it out to us that the percussive rhythm in ‘We Go Together’ was similar to Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya.’ That wasn’t a conscious thing, but I’d be proud to list Outkast as an influence,” jokes Bevill.

   And even the discussion about the harmonies that adorn songs like “I’ve Had Enough” and “You Were There” create disharmony when deciding who the real influences were.

   “I heard Grizzly Bear or Fleet Foxes when we were working out those parts, but Zach hears Pet Sounds-era Beach Boys,” Britt says.

   The album ends with “Common Ties,” another song penned together by Britt and Bevill.

   They say in that song that “the common ties that bind are stronger than the lines we draw,” an idea that harkens back to community, to family, and that the divisiveness that is self-inflicted doesn’t have to be a permanent state of affairs.

   “We’re all struggling with the same stuff and often celebrating the same stuff too,” Bevill says. “That’s a great place to start from.”

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