FarmStrong — from left, Rick Meade, Jim Faddis, Cort Armstrong and John Pyles — celebrate their fourth album with a CD release party at Olympic Theatre Arts on Friday. (FarmStrong)

FarmStrong — from left, Rick Meade, Jim Faddis, Cort Armstrong and John Pyles — celebrate their fourth album with a CD release party at Olympic Theatre Arts on Friday. (FarmStrong)

FarmStrong’s fourth album strong on bluegrass

CD release party set for Friday

SEQUIM — Finding sources of inspiration for the Sequim-based FarmStrong band is infinitely easier than trying to pin down the quartet’s specific brand of music.

Singer-guitarist Cort Armstrong notes that often the group — a regular now on the regional bluegrass circuit — will see its genre-bending, non-bluegrass tunes are the most well-received among festival-goers.

“We like to bring songs to life from a lot of different genres,” Armstrong said.

“We dig into a lot of different wells.”

Fans of FarmStrong can dig into the group’s fourth and newest album and a live performance at the release of the aptly named “FarmStrong 4” this week.

FarmStrong takes the stage at 7 p.m. Friday at Olympic Theatre Arts, 414 N. Sequim Ave. The band will play two sets while OTA will have drinks in the lobby for purchase before the first set and at intermission.

Tickets are on sale online for $15 at farmstrong4cdrelease.brownpapertickets.com. They will be $20 at the door if available.

Copies of the album will be on sale for $10 at the show.

Led by singer-songwriter Jim Faddis and backed by Armstrong, dobro/banjo picker-singer Rick Meade, and John Pyles on stand-up bass, FarmStrong has its roots in bluegrass but its musical wanderings have taken the band through traditional country, country rock, blues, folk, Motown and elsewhere.

Armstrong and Faddis starting playing together in 2011 or 2012, before adding Meade and Pyles to form a band and create albums “FarmStrong Live” (2013), Forever (2015) and “Don’t Go Down That Road” (2017).

“One of the strengths of the band is how we play together; from the first day, it clicked,” Armstrong said.

Faddis led Prairie Flyer and is one of the top bluegrass band leaders in the Northwest, Armstrong said, and Meade had a deep bluegrass background, which led a number of bluegrass festival organizers to add FarmStrong to their lineups. The band has shared the stage at WinterGrass in Bellevue, Columbia Gorge Bluegrass Festival in Stevenson, Shelton’s Bluegrass From the Forest and the North Cascades Bluegrass Festival in Bellingham.

In early June, the band will headline the annual Valley Bluegrass Festival in Orofino, Idaho.

The imbrication of FarmStrong’s influences and material, however, was duly noted by bluegrass diehards.

“(They) realized we have a far more diverse sound than bluegrass,” Armstrong said. “Even though we’re a little different, we’re in the tribe, so to speak.

“We consider ourselves a bluegrass palette cleanser.”

For example, Armstrong said, the band covers “Papa Is a Rolling Stone,” a classic tune made famous by The Temptations.

“(We’re) not so much worried about it sounding like bluegrass and fitting into the box,” he said.

And while FarmStrong at its heart has always been a country band of the Merle Haggard and George Jones persuasion, Armstrong said, in “FarmStrong 4,” the band drifts back to its bluegrass roots. The result is a set of bluegrass classics and a couple of bluegrass originals, with three from Faddis to go with originals from Armstrong and Meade.

About half of the songs are with dobro and half with banjo, Armstrong says, with Meade taking the lead.

Regardless of instrumentation, Armstrong noted, most of the tunes are about relationships gone wrong; one of his favorites on the new album is “It Must Be Love,” a song that leads with the line “I’m in the center of a hurricane.”

Another top song from the album, Armstrong said, is Robert Earl Keen’s “Paint the Town Beige,” written from the perspective of a character adjusting from a big city lifestyle to country living.

Faddis retired from a career in law enforcement in Spokane to Sequim, Armstrong noted, which was “part of his attraction to the song is near his experience moving out here.”

The “FarmStrong 4” album artwork is distinctly local, with Marina Shipova — a photographer/artist and Peninsula College instructor — capturing an image of the group on Bekkevar family property near Blyn.

For more information, call Armstrong at 206-550-2132 or see farmstrongmusic.com.

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Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group 

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