More than three years ago High Country Hustle released their debut album, growing from their roots as a small-time Southern Colorado bluegrass foursome. Today, they’re a high-energy force to be reckoned with and a fierce competitor amongst the Front Range bluegrass music scene. After winning the WinterWonderGrass Band Contest and a slot at the Steamboat festival stage in February of 2020, these Durango pickers have been making a name for themselves and moving on an upward trajectory ever since. Now they’re celebrating the release of their second full-length album, Weather the Storm, with a newfound sense of musical camaraderie and an ever-growing fanbase.
While the pandemic hit the music community hard, High Country Hustle was not deterred, making the most of the situation with some socially distanced events and buckling down to work on this latest album. We spoke with guitarist Andy Gallen about the album-making process, which in the throes of a pandemic is never easy, but always worth it. “Earlier this year we ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for this album and raised $34,426, which was 117% of our goal,” Gallen said. With the financial support of their adoring community and the production support of fellow artists and industry people, Weather the Storm was born.
Recorded and produced over the past 14 months, this album is “a culmination of a lot of growth for the band,” said Gallen. “Every member of the band wrote a song for this album and it feels like we came together to make something we are all very proud of.” The four “unique musical personalities” of High Country Hustle got by with a little help from their friends, including The Lil Smokies’ Jake Simpson as head of production and sound engineers Aaron Youngberg and Scott Smith. Bluegrass music is known to be a family affair, and Weather the Storm holds up pleasantly to that standard. Both Simpson and Youngberg are featured playing fiddle and banjo on “Sky View Drive,” and Kitchen Dwellers’ banjoist Torrin Daniels can be heard on “Be Like the Wind.”
With the album now out in the world, High Country Hustle is excited to be reaching a wider audience with their music. “Branching out of Colorado has been a big goal for us,” said Gallen. Riding that high, the band is slated for their first multi-state tour this July which starts tonight in Wyoming and includes stops in Utah and Idaho. “We can’t wait to start really digging into the songs on this new album and hope folks will connect with them like we do.” For the local fans, they’ll have a chance to catch the new album played live with a show at Colorado Springs’ The Vulture on July 14 and Denver’s Number Thirty Eight on July 15. Plus, they’ve got slots at both Pine River Music Festival and Rhythms on the Rio later this summer.