Fraser / Live Music: Playin’ that good ol’ finger pickin’, hand slappin’ newgrass |

Fraser / Live Music: Playin’ that good ol’ finger pickin’, hand slappin’ newgrass

by Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

As a resident of the Fraser Valley for just two years (with twin brother, Sam), musician Joe Farstad is already a fixture in the local music scene. Friday night’s performance will be Farstad’s second time to play the Rocky Mountain Roastery in Fraser, which he said always has a really receptive crowd.

“I love playing at the Roastery. It’s a great venue for a singer/songwriter. It’s one of the only opportunities I get to see all of my friends at the same place at the same time.”

Coming along with him will be his six-string guitar “Rebecca,” which he’s had for 13 years, and maybe a 12-string guitar he hasn’t had long enough to name.

His acoustic-style music is described as “progressive bluegrass” or “newgrass, which he calls alternative folk, and he does a lot of finger picking and hand percussion with a flat pick.

What develops is a complete audible picture of who Farstad is as an artist. “Music to me is pure expression,” he said. “My performances give me an opportunity to share myself with a group of people that came to listen and appreciate.”

Farstad moved to Grand County from Wyoming where he grew up in a musical home.

“My mom always had a bunch of music playing,” he said, “a lot of old folk music.” She played artists like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, the Beatles and Eric Clapton, “also a lot of my influences because of her influences.” He also recalls “rockin’ out with dad” to artists like Bruce Springsteen and John Cougar Mellencamp.

Farstad never took formal lessons, taking in what he could from a fifth-grade teacher who was a good guitar player and with whom he’d stay inside during recess.

When asked if he always wanted to be a professional musician, Farstad said music “has been a supportive part of my life that centers me,” but that he plays more for himself. “I suppose if the opportunity presented itself I’d definitely take it though,” he admitted.

Aside from a couple discs he recorded with a college buddy years ago while earning his bachelor’s of science degree in business administration and finance at the University of Wyoming, Farstad said he hasn’t had the time to put together a new CD yet.

Although he will be playing several cover songs by bands like the Black Crowes,

Amos Lee and Big Head Todd, he said he really enjoys playing his own music and that there are three brand-new, upbeat songs he’ll showcase at the Roastery for the first time.

For the Friday performance, he said he hopes he and Rebecca play something audiences can relate to.

“I sing about life,” he said. “I hope people can walk away from the show with a better understanding of who I am.”

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