june '24

thu13jun7:00 pmDriftwood7:00 pm Event Type :Ticketed ConcertTickets $15 >>

Event Details

Music has guided Driftwood to hallowed ground many times since its founding members, Joe Kollar and Dan Forsyth, started making music as high schoolers in Joe’s parents’ basement. Whether the Upstate New York folk rock group—which today also includes violinist Claire Byrne, bassist Joey Arcuri, and drummer Sam Fishman—are converting new fans on a hardscrabble tour across the country or playing to a devoted crowd at hero Levon Helm’s Woodstock barn, the band’s shapeshifting approach to folk music continues to break new ground. And yet in many ways Driftwood’s latest work, the transformative December Last Call, finds the group coming home. 

Recorded in that very same basement where the Driftwood dream began, December Last Call lyrically reflects on the recent past, musing on the ways the group grew up, together and apart, through curveballs like new parenthood or pandemic shutdowns. But sonically, the band’s sixth album looks confidently to the future, experimenting with new sounds while staying true to the bluegrass roots that built them. Across the album’s nine tracks, the band often leans into hard-rocking electric guitars and driving percussion: On “Every Which Way But Loose,” we get a foot-tapping beat and a sweeping chorus, and on “Up All Night Blues,” the band shines with an ambling, sing-along-able reflection on the challenges of new motherhood. But other tracks, like standout closer “Stardust,” take a simpler route, allowing bare-bones vocals and acoustic instrumentals to underpin a deeper emotional message.

One of Driftwood’s biggest differentiators—and perhaps its biggest strength—is the sheer breadth of talent in its lineup, with Claire, Joe, and Dan all contributing as songwriters and vocalists. This creative push-pull, where each selects songs to share with the group and record together, bakes vulnerability and collaborative spirit into every recording. “It’s at the heart of what we do,” says Dan. “Everybody has a strong love for songs, for songwriting, and we each appreciate everybody else and the way that they contribute to that.” 

While 2019’s acclaimed Tree of Shade tapped Simon Felice as producer, the band opted to self-produce this latest effort, leaning into their creative impulses and striving to capture their distinctive live energy. Figuring out how to channel that on-stage intensity into a recording has actually, in many ways, been a lesson in restraint. “When I look back at the things we were writing and playing, oh, I don’t know, 10, 12 years ago, they were really arranged: a lot of you do this here, we’re going to do this there, we’re going to break down, we’re going to do a big build,” Claire explains. “These days, it’s more like, ‘Let’s play the song and just see what happens.’”

This approach makes all the more sense when you consider Driftwood’s live shows, which operate not only as effervescent, twang-studded musical parties, but also as reunions for their throng of devoted listeners—folks who have started to feel less like fans and more like something bigger. “They’re supporters. They’re friends,” explains Joe. “It’s crazy how much love we’ve got and how many wild situations on the road we’ve gotten out of because of those people.” Many of them are quite literally invested in the band’s future: December Last Call was a crowd-funded effort, and it wasn’t the band’s first. It’s as if every listener, ticketbuyer, album backer, and general band evangelist is in on Driftwood’s biggest secret: this whole band thing has endured for nearly two decades because it offers a kind of community you can’t get just anywhere.

“Driftwood is basically a beautiful friendship that happens to play music together,” says Joe. “I know it’s rare. I know I’m lucky to know these people and lean on them and go through these massive life changes together.” For Driftwood, each song is like a journal entry: cathartic to create, yes, but capable of unlocking new lessons—and when shared—forging new bonds. “We’re communal, right? Humans need to be connected,” Joe says. “And we get to have this special thing.”

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Tickets $15 >>


(Thursday) 7:00 pm