It would be easy for some local bands to simply coast on the goodwill garnered through years of playing out, of putting in the time and effort necessary to build a dedicated network of fans and friends. It would be even easier for some local bands to simply take that for granted.
As fortune would have it, though, Frontier Folk Nebraska are simply not that band.
Even as they’ve made a name for themselves on the Tri-State independent circuit, as well as an ever expanding regional audience, they’ve never been ones to let their relative popularity dictate their behavior. In fact, it seems to have made them try harder, get more creative, and push themselves even further. The release of their unanimously well-received 2014 effort Frontier F**k Nebraska (read our review here) was accompanied by raucous local celebratory engagements, along with the release of a rarities filled EP, signaling their increasing desire for forward momentum.
To that end, this August 7th and 8th at the venerable Southgate House Revival, Frontier Folk Nebraska will embark on one of their more ambitious - if not most ambitious - endeavors: the recording of a double live album, played and put to tape at one of Cincinnati’s most respected live music establishments. Covering the half-decade expanse of all of their releases, this two-night event will bring out other local favorites The Mitchells and Wussy Duo, and will play host to what I can only imagine will be some unexpected and entertaining surprises along the way. As this comes at the end of their months long (though spread out) Buffalo Summer tour, I wanted to get the band’s thoughts on what this set of shows means to the band and their fans.
We don't hear of many live albums anymore - but FFN has always been a band that's respected and utilized the live setting well. So was the decision to make a live album one that came about naturally, or something that involved a lot of thought as to "what can we do next?"
Travis Talbert, guitarist: “The plan was organic and gradual as the band continues to evolve into hopefully a more efficient vehicle for us to express ourselves and hopefully champion some thoughts and emotions in the kind folks that come to hear us play. A few months ago while we were on the road in Illinois or Indiana after recording a Daytrotter session we were discussing what we could do to make another hometown show a little more special. We don't like to saturate the market, and these past two years have made us feel wise for that decision; all the shows at home have been great! But how were we going to do it? We have a record we're still touring on, Frontier F**k Nebraska, that is doing better than anything we've ever done, and we only have about half a new album worked out that is at least another year away. And there it hit us, live album.
We've often made a point of doing this in spite of anyone not thinking it was valid besides ourselves, and ironically it would seem that that is what is starting to make our shows better every time. People seem to be hanging on to what we're doing, and it feels great. The stubborn approach is something we gravitate towards, and it's the reason that we've released albums on vinyl, don't play too often in any one spot, and generally shy away from anything we've been told to do feels like it's taking hold a bit every time we do this.
We've also solidified what we feel is our most malleable lineup in the band's history. There have been over ten people in this band in close to as many years, and this group of guys seems to be able to do anything. We've been taking large steps in the collaborations and in just focusing in on all aspects of the band's sound and we want to showcase that scope and force with these shows. We're going to cover three full length albums, from Gram Parsons to Slayer to the Replacements to FFN. We've never enjoyed labels, and we try to show that throughout any given set by playing a wide spectrum of sounds. This live album will hopefully be a testament to that method of performance.”
It’s fitting (and puts a smile on my face) that this is all taking place at a venue inside of what was once a church. Frontier Folk Nebraska worship at the altar of Rock and Roll, and much like those who formerly attended SGHR in it’s original state, their fans - and fans and supporters of our vibrant local music scene - are devout, and proud of it.
Pre-sale tickets are currently available for both nights - each of which will undoubtedly be a unique experience, since each night will have different supporting acts and wholly different setlists. Friday will see insanely talented Cincinnati Indie act The Mitchells starting things off, while Saturday’s show will bring Cincinnati’s latest entry onto the national stage, Wussy (though in the often taken “duo” form) to bear on the anxious crowd. And this isn’t just an event meant to cater to old fans, but is just as much designed to welcome new fans into the fold. Consider it a weekend long primer about everything that’s great about Cincinnati’s independent music scene, and Frontier Folk Nebraska in particular.