Buffalo-based group Folkfaces is known for their “Rowdy Jazz & Bluesy Roots.” The band has an irresistible, danceable energy and a remarkable variety of sounds, engaging audiences whether it’s busking on the street, playing in a small barroom, or putting on a large electric extravaganza. The band is influenced by a wide range of musical styles, including folk, jazz, blues, Americana, jug band, and bluegrass. Folkfaces is: Tyler Westcott on lead vocals, five-string banjo, acoustic & electric guitar, and 12 string guitar; Brendan Gosson on vocals, fiddle, and mandolin; Dan Schwach on backing vocals, drums, and washboard; and finally Patrick Jackson on backing vocals, electric & upright bass.
On this project, they got some special guests to help add to their miraculous vibes – for instance, on track two, “Minivan Cowboy,” they have Tim Clarke playing the trumpet; he’s also featured on tracks three & seven as well. Brian “Dr. Jazz” Bauer added his special clarinet and saxophone playing on tracks two, three, and seve. A couple other features include Kevin Urso who provided Rhodes, and Hammond B3 Organ on tracks three, seven, and nine; Sean McNamara who added slide & electric guitar tracks on seven & ten; Elton Hough layered down some drums on track three; Jody Mosser with dobro and mandolin on track one; and Benny Bleu who added the five string banjo along with backing vocals on track four. As you can tell, this project is filled to the brim with so many versatile artists, bringing specialized skills to PLUMS that really draw fans into their dancy equation.
PLUMS opens up with an explosive track titled ‘Wheels,’ where the band’s signature banjo section takes center stage, painting a vivid picture of jubilation. The interplay between the banjo, acoustic guitar, and the mandolin is nothing short of mesmerizing, bringing the exact spirit of rowdy jazz that set dance halls on fire in the early 20th century. Tracks like “When Lockdown Lifts” and “Meat Sack Blues” highlight the band’s soulful vocals and exquisite guitar work, taking listeners to the Mississippi Delta’s smoky clubs, where the blues were created and evolved.
While the album predominantly embraces the essence of traditional jazz and blues, Folkfaces infuse their own contemporary twist, as they showcase their jazzy/blues talents in all tracks with the most evident being track five “Fiddle Hickey.” As the track has no features and it’s just the band themselves, at about the two-and-a-half minute mark, they change the rhythm and pace of the song while the banjo comes in hot and keeps their listeners grooving to the music. It reminds me of the golden era of jazz; you can almost put yourself in an old bar dancing around in a circle doing high kicks with a bunch of people you don’t know and you’re all just dancing, vibing, and having a grand old time to the music being played. Folkfaces provides that vibe in this LP as they want their fans to jump around and feel happy.
As the final notes of the album ring out, Folkfaces conclude their extraordinary musical journey with the foot-stomping and buoyant “Who Killed George Floyd,” showcasing the wide ranged fusion of rowdy jazz and bluesy roots that defines their unique sound. Ending off the project with that track really showcases the band’s passion for their craft and their dedication to keeping the spirit of these timeless genres alive, as they went with a slower jazz pace to end it off.
In summation, Folkfaces have crafted an excellent album that pays homage to traditions while inspiring it with their own creative flair. The project was released on June 30th on Spotify, Bandcamp, and Apple Music along with being recorded and mixed at Buffalo’s own GCR studios with the gifted Justin Rose. It was mastered by Buffalo’s own Alan Whitney. The cover art of the project was created by Bobby DiTrani and the layout/design of the cover art was done by Joe Ski.
If dancy, uplifting, jazzy blues vibes is your genre type then you are going to absolutely love this album! Be sure to follow along the band’s social media as well as they love to showcase their versatile talents around Buffalo.