Trail Mix: Say Hello to the Farewell Drifters

I have done myself a disservice.  A number of years ago, I got my hands on a copy of Yellow Tag Mondays, the debut release from The Farewell Drifters.  The bluegrassy feel and tight harmonies on “Love We Left Behind,” the record’s opening track, hooked me from the get go, and I spent a lot of time with the disc over the following weeks.

Now, flash forward a few years and cue the disservice.

As often happens, The Farewell Drifters spun off my radar.  Somehow, I managed to miss their second record, 2011’s Echo Boom, entirely.  So, when I got word of the pending release of Tomorrow Forever, the band’s first album with Compass Records, my memory was jogged.  I tracked the new record down and was stunned by The Farewell Drifters’ sonic evolution.  The acoustic underpinning that originally drew me to the band years ago was still at the music’s core, but added to that was an indie folk rock vibe more reminiscent of The Lumineers or Fleet Foxes.

This new sound works.

So, do yourself a favor.  Learn from my mistake and let the disservice end with me; don’t let this band slip your attention and grab a copy of Tomorrow Forever.

I recently caught up with Joshua Britt as the band was headed up to Maine.  Josh, who plays mandolin for the band, must be a stand up guy.  I tossed him a question that would have really allowed him to take a good natured jab at his brother, Clayton, who also plays in the band; he demurred and, instead, chatted up travels through Japan, skiing, and the joys of home.  It’s all good stuff, and  – having one myself – I appreciate a good brother.

BRO – You guys have been at this for nearly a decade.  What do you know now about making records that you didn’t know back when you laid down Yellow Tag Mondays?

JB – On that record, we were just poor kids paying a Nashville studio rate, so we had to work fast and memorize everything so we could nail it in the studio.  That record comes across as less risky for that reason.  I have learned that the studio is the best place in the world to experiment and create arrangements.  With this record, we lived in the studio for a month, just experimenting with sounds for these tunes.  We approach the studio now as a creative environment where the sounds and arrangements are more open to discovery and risk taking.  We also found a producer we all respect and who helped us navigate which fights are worth fighting.

BRO – Got a favorite wintertime activity?

JB – We have taken up skiing whenever we get a chance.  I enjoy the feeling of being right on the edge of losing control, both musically and physically.  Our bass player was training to be a pro snowboarder at one point in his life.  So far, we have done Mt. Hood in Oregon and Massanutten in Virginia.

BRO – Favorite band of the moment?

JB – I am in love with this band called Isaiah from Tel Aviv.  I spend a lot of time combing through Youtube for good music and that’s where I found these guys.  There is not much info about them online, but I think this is the writer/bouzouki player’s first project in English.  It blew my socks off when I heard that because the writing is beautiful.  I talk to him sometimes on Facebook about bouzouki and octave mandolin tunings.  Check him out at

BRO – You guys are on the road a lot.  Got a city you can’t wait to visit again?

JB – Yawata, Japan, has been the closest we have come to paradise, in my opinion.  It’s a mountain town in Northern Japan that took a four hour bullet train ride from Japan to reach.  We played a show there and then stayed for a week.  All the locals share a garden in the middle of the town and it has beautiful hot spring baths.  At one point, I was walking down the road without a coat and an eighty year old man tried to give me his.  We climbed the 2,466 stone steps of Mt. Haguro to the huge temple on top.  I want to go back.

BRO – What’s the best thing about getting home and off the road?

JB – Being home is a great feeling.  After all these years, the road still feels more like an adventure than a home.  Whether we are getting back to families and friends or just plain old normalcy, it feels good.  When I think of home, I think of the people that love me and the ability to just be a loner who writes songs.  There is nothing in the world as good as pulling into home after a month on the road and finding the people you love waiting for you.

The Farewell Drifters have shows coming up in Nashville (tonight), Decatur, GA (February 13th), Athens, GA (February 14th), and Birmingham, AL (February 15th) this week.  For information on tickets to those shows or when the band will be with you, along with how to get your own copy of Tomorrow Forever, surf over to


Places to Go, Things to See: