FolkWorld #78 07/2022
© Mountain Home Music Company

Across the Western Ocean

Banjo Month

Fireside Collective - And the Rain Came Down

Across The Divide

Fireside Collective’s upcoming album is a musical kaleidoscope.

Fireside Collective

Artist Video

“When the world shut down and the music industry came to a halt,” recalls Fireside Collective singer and mandolinist Jesse Iaquinto, “we decided to head to a cabin in the Smoky Mountains. We didn't know when we'd be back on the road, or what touring would look like, but we knew if we kept creating music, it would be the best way to ensure we could return to playing music. Over the course of 3 days, we began arranging the songs that would become a part of our fourth studio album.”

Today, that process culminates in the announcement of Across The Divide, the Asheville, NC-based quintet’s second full-length for Mountain Home Music Company. Set to release on August 5, the project is, Iaquinto says, “a celebration of the journey from the familiar world into the unknown, and back into recognizable territory, but with new understanding. The songs speak of love, loss, fear and the comfort of home. The days in the studio were as much an outpouring of emotions as they were a recording project. We crossed over lines and explored new territory, while never forgetting the road that led us to where we are today.”

With award-winning songwriter Jon Weisberger (Billy Strings, Infamous Stringdusters, Travelin’ McCourys) producing, the group — Iaquinto, guitarist/singer Joe Cicero, Alex Genova (banjo, vocals), resonator guitarist and vocalist Tommy Maher and Carson White (bass, vocals) — crafted Across The Divide in three sessions over nearly a year, releasing two charting singles (“And The Rain Came Down” and “Blue Is My Condition”) along the way. With each session, the eventual themes and musical contours of the project came more clearly into focus.

“Our second album, Life Between the Lines, was the band's attempt at finding the lines of bluegrass and learning to speak the language,” Iaquinto observes. “In Across the Divide, we aim to take that understanding and use it as our foundation, as we explore realms beyond the borders of bluegrass. From funk, to country, to blues and more, the roots of where we've been pave the way to where we're headed. Always honoring the road that brought us here, we seek to integrate it with the knowledge that one gains with each passing year, melding our musical journey into one familiar yet constantly evolving experience.”

The care and creativity brought to the process can be heard in each of the set’s songs. From the intricate, energetic opening of “When You Fall” to the bluesy snap of “Let It Ride” to the powerful classically bluegrass high lead trio of “House Into A Home” to the surprising country-flavored piano of “Not Today” to the churning groove of “Your Song Goes On,” Across The Divide acts as a musical kaleidoscope — each twist of the viewer offering up a different scene, yet with all marrying artful construction to inspired improvisation and engaging lyrics.

Fireside Collective

Fireside Collective "Across The Divide", Mountain Home Music Company, 2022

“This album was a joy to create,” says Cicero. “Everyone brought really interesting originals to the table, which made for a great challenge trying to bring them to life during the arranging process. The end result is very rewarding to hear. We really melded a lot of our influences together on this one and as a result, I think it’s the most ‘Fireside’ thing we’ve ever done.”

About Fireside Collective

A quintet who cheerfully disregard every kind of one-dimensional label that might be attached to their music, Fireside Collective has been on a roll since emerging from the fertile roots music scene of Asheville, North Carolina. In quick order, the progressive bluegrass group released its debut album, won the 2016 Band Contest at MerleFest, earned an International Bluegrass Music Association Momentum Band of the Year nomination and embarked on an ambitious touring schedule that’s earned an enthusiastic reception from traditional bluegrass to wide-ranging, eclectic music festival audiences alike.

Blending the characteristic interplay of bluegrass instrumentation and harmonies with strong original material and exuberant energy, Fireside Collective has drawn on folk, blues, funk and a wide variety of bluegrass sounds to create a distinctive body of work that’s all their own.

Each member—Joe Cicero (guitar); Alex Genova (banjo); Jesse Iaquinto (mandolin); Tommy Maher (resonator guitar) and Carson White (upright bass)— brings a strong, original voice to his instrument, and the unique contributions of different lead and harmony vocalists complement the variety in the group’s many original songs. “Depending on where you come from and your experience with folk music, you may think we’re very traditional, or on the other hand, consider us a progressive act,” says Iaquinto. “We appreciate both ends of the spectrum and may lie on a different end on any given night.” But whether they’re bringing the classic sound of bluegrass or exploring new musical territory, Fireside Collective delivers a fresh, energetic approach and a blast of enthusiastic creativity that’s electrifying audiences across the country.

Photo Credits: (1)-(2) Fireside Collective (unknown/website).

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