Fruition is a propitious name for a band of down-home musicians — provided they can live up to it. So far so good for the Portland, Oregon five-piece, formerly known as Fruition String Band.
In the half-dozen years since their formation they've released three EPs, as well as last year's Kickstarter-funded full-length debut, Just One of Them Nights. Last month, they recorded an impromptu four-song EP, Meet Me On the Mountain, here in Colorado.
The new EP was set in motion after the band played a set at Colorado's Campout for the Cause in Bond. When they left the stage, they were approached by a former soundman for Pat Metheny who'd since built his own studio up in the mountains. He invited them to visit if they had a free day, which they did.
"It was a spontaneous thing," says guitarist Jay Cobb Anderson. "I went over to talk to our friend Tyler Grant from [the band] Grant Farm about it, and he's like, 'Dude, his studio is amazing and the guy is fantastic.'"
Anderson and Grant ended up writing the aptly named title song in the studio, while the group whipped a few more songs into shape during the daylong session. "It was such a good vibe," says Anderson. "You usually don't get a chance to do that these days, because studio time is expensive. You don't get to just walk in and write."
Fruition has never been a band to waste time or opportunities. The group came together after Anderson and bassist Keith Simon relocated to Portland from Lewiston, Idaho. While busking around town, they met guitarist Kellen Asebroek and mandolin player Mimi Naja. The four musicians hit it off and soon began touring the coast, playing a twangy, bluegrass-inflected style without necessarily being aficionados of the form.
The group soon recorded and released two discs — 2008's Hawthorne Hoedown EP and 2009's Fruition String Band EP — before enlisting an old Idaho high school friend, Tyler Thompson, to play drums. They dropped the "String Band" from their name shortly after.
"When it was happening, it seemed completely natural," says Anderson. "The only thing that made it weird was our fans wondering if we were going to lose some element of what they loved about it."
That's not been the case, although the new lineup does allow the band to widen its palette: The dragging folk-blues "Whippoorwill" is counterbalanced by the rockabilly-inflected "Boil Over" and the racing bluegrass of "The Wanter."
"Having a steady rhythm opens it up to a lot more, to do things that string bands can't get away with," Anderson says. "But we still love our roots."
The change also translates well to the stage. The band has opened for Greensky Bluegrass and the Infamous Stringdusters, and is now out on its first national headlining tour. Colorado music fans have been particularly supportive, showing up in even larger numbers than the musicians get in their hometown of Portland.
"Colorado is amazing," says Anderson. "We're nobodies in Maryland, but in Colorado we're rock stars. We started this tour with a week in Colorado, and we'll end it with a week in Colorado. We love it here."
I miss you, Lenny! My family and I thank you for all the special times…
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