For decades now, Colorado has been a wellspring for American roots music, combining the traditional Appalachian old-time and honky-tonk strains of the East with the spirit of adventure and openness of the West. Colorado has served as a magnet for musicians looking to find themselves, and it’s become a place for musical kindred spirits to commune and create. FY5 –Finnders & Youngberg– represent this pioneering spirit, and with their latest effort, Eat the Moon, we can hear a newfound maturity and purpose that comes with steady gigging, dedication, and a renewed sense of purpose. Bluegrass harmonies, crisp as a mountain stream, meld with virtuosic picking and fiddling and the kind of honest acknowledgment of the tough realities of life that’s best found in traditional honky-tonk. “We’re proud to have come from the traditional folk and bluegrass school,” says bandleader Mike Finders, “yet we put all that aside and do our best to build the songs honestly, creatively, with no predetermined agenda to play this or that kind of music.” With Eat the Moon, FY5 brings us a self-assured vision of American music, rooted in tradition, but pointing to new creative directions that make it vital and relevant in today’s modern world.
If you’re looking for the source of this music, there’s a deep vein of country music that reaches all the way back to Appalachia and underpins both bluegrass and honky-tonk. But it takes an uncommon vision and a powerful band to unite the two as FY5 has done. Much of this connection is built through Aaron Youngberg’s facility on both banjo and pedal steel, but also through the gritty vocals of lead singer Mike Finders. You can hear traces of both Jimmy Martin and Lefty Frizzell in his voice, but he has a unique and unaffected sound of his own that comes through on all the original songs. Female vocalist Erin Youngberg does more than hold her own on lead vocals, and when these two voices join together as a duet, one can’t help but compare them to classic country duets like George Jones and Melba Montgomery or Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner. Combine these vocals with rapid-fire mandolin picking from Rich Zimmerman that, though clean and precise, still contains a gritty edge, and masterful fiddling from renowned violinist Ryan Drickey, and you’ve got the driving force ofFY5.
On Eat The Moon, all these elements combine in a partnership that recalls a time before roots music became watered down or overly polished. FY5’s synergy of styles carries the traditions of what came before with the frontier elements of the West, giving their music a sense of freedom and adventure that sounds fresh to our ears. If you’re searching for the ensemble that will bridge the gap between the Smokies and the Rockies, between East and West, old and new, this is for you.