After a decade of touring and three studio albums with legendary jam band Leftover Salmon, banjoist Andy Thorn is releasing his first solo recording in eight years, Frontiers Like These, on June 21 at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. To make this album, Thorn called in his oldest friends, who now happen to be in meteoric acoustic bands, including members of Mandolin Orange, Town Mountain, Jon Stickley Trio, and Big Fat Gap.
Andy is excited to release a video of the album’s first single “Blazing New Frontiers” on Friday, 4/19 — just in time for the 420 holiday. Watch it here → https://youtu.be/CEFwbA2u46c.
The song tells the story of America’s first licensed pot broker, who also happens to be his wife, Cecelia May Thorn. It is an ode to the people who built the cannabis industry, who tried to find their way in an increasingly corporate landscape. The video, directed by award-winning director Eric Abramson, was shot in the facilities of her actual former clients, 14er Holistics’ Grow. It depicts Andy performing in an indoor grow room while Cecelia acts out her pot brokering business throughout Boulder, with cameo appearances by members of Leftover Salmon.
Denver’s Westword call it “an amusing peek into the zany ins and outs of Colorado's most famous business.” In the Westword interview about the song, which is based an old poem written by Cecelia, Thorn says, "It's a salute to all the growers and people who helped pioneer the industry... Some of the words are 'You can't grow a plant without a radio tag/You can't sell a pound without a barcode bag,' and the chorus goes, 'You can call us crooks and gangsters/But we'll still be pioneers/We're the first state to go legal/We're blazing new frontiers.'”
Written and produced by Andy Thorn, Frontiers Like These features 11 original tracks including four instrumental numbers and seven vocal tracks featuring lush harmonies by Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin of Mandolin Orange. The lyrics and soundscapes capture a snapshot of American life — from North Carolina to the Rocky Mountains and beyond. Inevitably, the album references climate change and economic inequality. The album also features Jon Stickley on guitar, Town Mountain’s Bobby Britt on fiddle, and Big Fat Gap’s Miles Andrews on bass, the decades of Carolina-based picking friendships are palpable from the first notes.
Frontiers Like These was recorded in the musicians’ hometown of Chapel Hill at The Rubber Room. It was done over the holidays, so everyone was back in town visiting family. The recording sessions felt like a Carolina bluegrass family reunion, but most of these songs were actually written at 7300 feet above sea level, in Thorn’s high-altitude Colorado home.