Tyler Grant has a National Flatpicking Championship under his belt, solo releases and a resume stacked with names of artists he’s worked with. Yet, even through his successes during his time in mythical Nashville, Tenn., the guitarist was always waiting for a chance to start something new.
“I had a longing to play more electric guitar, which is something I grew up doing and had been focused on the acoustic for so long,” Grant says. “And there comes a time when you just don’t want to work for other people any more.”
After a few years and a move to Colorado, Grant has more than started something. Formed in 2011, Grant Farm has already released an album, toured across the country, and carved out its very own niche in Colorado’s jam band community. For Grant, Colorado fans were crucial in getting his vision off the ground.
“If you have a good band and play in Colorado, the fans will come and they will love it,” Grant says. “In Nashville when you start a band you’re just playing for all of your musician friends. There’s not much gray area between just getting started and playing the big time. It’s a great place to see live music and hear live music, but there isn’t nearly the support that there is on the Front Range.”
Grant Farm might be a newcomer in a place where jam bands are as common as hybrid cars, but the band has ties to top local acts in the area through Andy Thorn (Leftover Salmon) and Keith Moseley (The String Cheese Incident). While playing in the The Emmitt-Nershi Band in 2009, Grant and Thorn started working on a side project together, which eventually became Grant Farm. Moseley joined on as bassist, until SCI duties dragged him away. Thorn had other duties as well, and The Grant Farm lineup now includes Chris Misner (drums), Adrian Engfer (bass) and Sean Foley (keyboard).
Despite this connection to the scene, Grant Farm’s sound aims to bring a new twist to a style they love.
“We’re definitely in the jam band scene, which is kind of the most powerful scene in these parts,” Grant says. “But we’re bringing in a country music element that I haven’t seen too much from other bands in the area.”
Grant Farm combines roots, rock and “cris-co” (a melding of country and disco) to craft upbeat songs that spiral into energetic jams. But, in their self-titled album released in March of last year, each band member finds ways to stretch beyond these confines. Misner brings an element of jazz, R&B and funk to their sound, and Engfer spearheads the band’s rock and reggae elements. Though Foley and Grant both have a background in country and bluegrass, Foley goes back to the classic American songbook, while Grant celebrates ’50s rockabilly. Especially when watching their Nicki-Bluhm-inspired Van Session videos, it’s obvious that the group’s dynamic allows these influences to come together.
“We really do take the guitars out in the van and work on songs and throw out ideas,” Grant says. “We’re always in that musical conversation, which is something I’ve never had before. We’re really that group driving down the road singing songs, playing accordions.”
With catchy songs like “I Come from the Country” and “Engineer,” it’s clear that, at its core, Grant Farm’s music is just about having a good time. Grant says that the band’s laid-back, friendly personality really shines onstage.
“When we take the stage we try to not take ourselves too seriously,” Grant says. “There’s no use getting all nitpicky about missing a note here and there or something. We’re just doing our best to enjoy our music and hope that the audience picks up the same enthusiasm.”
Grant Farm with special guest Keith Moseley plays the Boulder Theater Friday, Feb. 8. Frogs Gone Fishin' and Gipsy Moon open. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Call 303-786-7030 or visit www.bouldertheater.com.