When I think of my childhood in Northwestern Alabama, I fondly recall the sounds coming from the house of my next door neighbor, who played bluegrass music until around 2 AM most nights of the week. Considering I grew up in the foothills of the Appalachian trail, this isn’t uncommon by any means.
When I first listened to bluegrass quintet Fireside Collective, it was like I was nine-years-old and sitting back in my next door neighbor’s front porch rocking chair. And as big of a fan he is of bluegrass, I’d say it’s a safe bet that the band’s new single, “Blue Is My Condition,” is or would be in heavy rotation on his playlists.
Released this past Friday February 25th, “Blue Is My Condition” kicks off like a rocket with its take-no-prisoners tempo, fluid instrumentation, and staccato finger-picking. Despite the exciting nature of the sound, the lyrics are actually a bit dismal and forlorn with the hook being, “ ‘Cause how I’m feeling’s far from fine / Blue is my condition”. It’s an endearing juxtaposition, and despite the bleak tone of the lyrics, the powerful harmony vocals brought in by Tommy Maher (resonator guitar) and Jesse Iaquinto (mandolin) in the song’s chorus shine a radiant light.
Maher speaks bluntly about the way the world views sadness today, and how his music helps to heal himself and his audiences. “We all get the blues and experience sadness, but it can be taboo to talk about, especially when most of what we see on social media are happy people with smiling faces,” Maher observes. “This song came to me at a dark time and is about embracing that darkness and not being ashamed of showing your pain to the world. It’s a sad song with no happy ending.”
Something that is a definite standout on this track is just how upbeat the music is despite the message, and the single’s producer Jon Weisberger could not agree more. “The seriousness of the subject notwithstanding, ‘Blue Is My Condition’ was a fun song to write with Tommy. . . We chose to underline its classic bluegrass nature with a lonesome duo harmony rather than a full trio, and the guys just crushed it in the studio!”
Despite the one-dimensional label that the word “bluegrass” adds to their name, the Asheville pickers wake up every morning determined to flip the genre on its head. Between Maher, Iaquinto, and the other members – consisting of Joe Cicero (guitar); Alex Genova (banjo); and Carson White (upright bass) – they all bring a unique musical flavor to their theoretical table.
Due of their fun, upbeat, front-porch-pickin’ style of performance, Fireside Collective is sure to have your toes tapping and your volume knob cranked- maybe just be conscious of your neighbors. The band will be on tour much of this month, with more dates likely to be added throughout the year.