The Mighty Pines are a soul-inspired roots rock band influenced by the wide rivers and red-brick streets of St. Louis. With soaring vocals and thoughtful composition, the two principal songwriters shift the band’s sound from catchy rock ‘n’ roll to earthy instrumentals. The Riverfront Times heralds the band as “a talented young quartet engaged in the roots and rhythms of bluegrass but mixed with a more contemporary ear for harmony and production.”
The Mighty Pines formed in 2012 and is made up of Neil Salsich (vocals, guitar), Gerard Erker (mandolin, banjo, vocals), John Hussung (bass, vocals) and Mike Murano (drums). They have released four albums, played hundreds of live shows and shared bills with renowned acts such as JJ Grey & Mofro, The Dead South, Fruition, Sam Bush and Railroad Earth.
On May 18th, 2018, The Mighty Pines released their first live album, The Mighty Pines Live. Derived from two performances in St. Louis, the album captures their passionate live show in a 13-song compilation. The band also recorded two singles with Tim Carbone of Railroad Earth. The first of which, “Farmer Song”, was recently released as the theme song to 2018’s Farmers United Tour, a three-stop tour across Missouri in support of local farms and healthy soil.
Calling Minneapolis home, Kind Country has been instrumental in bridging the gap between the local Bluegrass, Americana, Folk, and Jam-Band scenes to create a diverse and rich blend of musical styles that refuses to fit in a single genre’s checkbox. The high-energy improvisational creative energy of the band’s stage performance infuses their studio albums with the intuitive and nearly telepathic connection they’ve grown famous for on stage. The beaming smiles, joyful laughter, knowing glances, brotherly encouragement, and outpouring of love are so palpable and genuine, their camaraderie leaves the audience begging for more. The ebb and flow of magnetic energy and speed draws the audience closer with each guitar lick, mando pluck, and fiddle stroke.
Kind Country began spreading their kind vibes all over the countryside when they came to life in Mankato, MN back in 2012. The seven-member ensemble features Max Graham (Mandolin/Lead vocals), Brandon Johnson (Guitar), Joe Sheehan (Bass), Chris Forsberg (Fiddle/Backing vocals), Chris Wittrock (Drums/Backing vocals), Mike Hedding (Banjo), and Lee Martin (Pedal Steel), who artfully blend a wealth of diverse experiences, musical tastes, perspectives, and individuality into a colorful tapestry of sound. A full drum kit, expertly played by “Witty,” sets Kind Country apart from the run of the mill bluegrass bands. Not to mention the momentum that builds between Max’s melodic mandolin pickin’ alternating with Chris’ rippin’ fiddle solos, leading to a magical crescendo. Joe thumps low and slow on bass, Lee wails on the slide, and Mike picks the banjo with expert precision. Every musician in the band holds their own with talent to spare. Max’s artful songwriting evokes a broad range of emotions, often drawing from his own life and dreams for the future.
Max Graham describes the overarching theme of Kind Country’s music as “finding beauty and happiness, even when negative experiences and struggles persist. That is a quintessential part of life. You can’t wait for everything to be perfect to celebrate life. Life is meant to be celebrated here and now. Our music is how we make life better.”
Kind Country’s discography includes three full-length albums (Kind Country, Hwy 7, and Hard Times) and an EP (Mountains). Track after track, Kind Country’s albums take listeners further down an energizing and uplifting path to find beauty in the darkness, light at the end of the tunnel, and joy in the hard times. The soul of the musicians’ collaborative synergy sits shotgun as we meander down the dusty trail of life, hitting potholes while simultaneously appreciating rainbows along the horizon. Kind Country’s unique sound takes on a duality of its own, dichotomous in its ability to make a sad song sound happy and a happy song sound ecstatic. Their albums artistically balance catchy numbers that elevate mood and vibrations with energetic barnburner instrumentals, all of which provoke a sea of bodies to move to the beat.
Kind Country has garnered national attention for their unique and optimistic style. Live for Live Music prophetically named them one of the “5 Up-and-Coming Bluegrass Bands Poised to Take Over the Scene.” Kind Country has won several contests and awards including the Minnesota State Fair’s AARP Best Local Band of 2017. They were awarded with the opportunity to support Bruce Hornsby and Lake Street Dive in their first stadium show, where they received a standing ovation from an eclectic audience of mostly new fans who spanned the generations.
These festival and live performance veterans have been playing festivals and venues big and small all over the Midwest for years, developing an especially loyal fanbase in the Minnesota/Wisconsin bluegrass scene. Kind Country expanded their festival footprint in the last few years to the national circuit, sharing stages with Phil Lesh, Railroad Earth, Jeff Austin Band, Sam Bush, Del McCoury, Greensky Bluegrass, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Devil Makes Three, Leftover Salmon, Keller Williams, Michael Cleveland, The Steeldrivers, The Infamous Stringdusters, The Lil’ Smokies, Billy Strings, Tyler Childers, Jacob Jolliff, Split Lip Rayfield, Charlie Parr, Trampled By Turtles, Pert Near Sandstone, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades, Useful Jenkins, The Way Down Wanderers, The Big Wu, Kitchen Dwellers, and a multitude of other phenomenal jam, bluegrass, folk, and Americana roots musicians. They seamlessly meld into the electronic scene as well because of their high energy pickin’, heady jams, and upbeat rhythms that get the whole party moving and shaking.