Colorado’s Finnders & Youngberg proudly swim in the deep currents of American music—classic bluegrass, tried-and-true honky tonk, country swing and skillfully spun folk tales. While their sound evokes timelessness, it is a decidedly contemporary, well-traveled 21st century sensibility that informs their songwriting. Their tunes draw on the bumps, bruises and laugh lines earned when we find ourselves in the “bogs” of backroads, dive bars, and long, lonesome nights.
In this stream, a vibrant cast of characters populates their latest album FY5—brave Rocky Mountain snowplow drivers, hard living musicians, housewives, lovers, drifters, drinkers and dreamers. The album was enthusiastically embraced in their homestate, coming in as the #1 bluegrass CD on Colorado radio for 2011, with the 2nd most “spins” overall for the year.
Musicians with a palpable sense of place, the members of Finnders & Youngberg have all laid strong foundations as veterans of the vibrant Colorado Front Range acoustic music scene. Two-time MerleFest songwriting competition winner in both the gospel and bluegrass categories, Iowa native Mike Finders possesses an arresting and emotive stage presence. The principal songwriter and guitarist for F&Y, his finely-honed storytelling forms the bulk of the band’s cannon.
Erin Youngberg (“E”) provides a muscley bass and beautiful, worldwise vocals, while husband Aaron Youngberg (“AA”) plays a mean banjo and seductive pedal steel. Both were founding members of the Hit & Run Bluegrass Band, which won the RockyGrass band competition in 2002 and Telluride in 2003. AA also is proud owner and chief engineer at Swingfingers Recording Studio in Fort Collins, while E has performed and recorded with Uncle Earl.
The group is rounded out by Rich Zimmerman on mandolin and Ryan Drickey on fiddle. Zimmerman was a founder of the innovative acoustic Boulder band Slipstream. Meanwhile Drickey’s chameleonic fiddling has earned him a RockyGrass fiddle competition win and marked him as a much sought after session player for the likes of Matt Flinner and Michelle Shocked.
Together on stage, F&Y possess an undeniable chemistry and an energy that flows with might. Marked by an intimacy with the audience, their performances feature precision picking, soaring harmonies and joyful, energetic choreography centered around an old-school single microphone setup. The emotional richness of their music resonates throughout their stage show. Heartbreakers slip in between anthemic glass raisers. Driving tales of working men and women shimmy alongside wryly humorous numbers. Quick-witted stage banter keeps folks laughing. Tightly wound instrumental breakdowns keep dancers on their toes.
Audiences nationwide are taking notice and falling under their spell. The group have made extensive touring tracks in the past few years, bringing their unique brand of classic yet contemporary acoustic roots music to stages across the country. They were a showcasing artist at Folk Alliance International 2010, and this fall they will be one of 13 acts that have been chosen as official showcasing artists at the IBMA’s World of Bluegrass conference in Nashville, Tennessee. As they journey through the landscape that inspires them, you too may find yourself swept away by Finnders & Youngberg.